The Cardinals shut down Cowboys rookie sensation DeMarco Murray, whose numbers have dropped drastically while fullback Tony Fiammetta deals with his mystery illness. Murray was a nonfactor with only 38 yards on 12 carries. Former starter Felix Jones provided the juice in the running game 10 days after he didn't get a single carry in the Cowboys' Thanksgiving win. Jones gained 36 yards on six carries. At some point, it'd be nice to see this running game when both backs are rolling.
Considering his poor protection, Tony Romo had a terrific day. He completed 28 of 42 passes for 299 yards. Romo missed some throws in the first half, but he was sharp most of the day despite consistent pressure from the Cardinals. The Cowboys allowed five sacks, a number that would have been significantly higher if Romo hadn't pulled a Houdini act on a few occasions. Dez Bryant (eight catches, 86 yards, TD) had a good day. The Cowboys have to figure out how to get Jason Witten (five catches, 47 yards) going again.
A week after breaking the Cardinals' record for rushing yards in a game, Beanie Wells wasn't much of a factor against the Cowboys. He carried 20 times for 67 yards and didn't have a double-digit gain. Nose tackle Jay Ratliff and outside linebacker Anthony Spencer were especially disruptive, recording two tackles for losses each. The Cowboys had a three-game span earlier this season when it appeared the run defense was going to be one of their primary problems, but it has been solid since then.
It was a dominant performance for the Dallas defense in the first half and a debacle after that. Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb threw for only 44 yards and was sacked four times before halftime. He lit up the Cowboys for 203 yards on 9-of-14 passing and was only sacked once in the second half and overtime. The game was decided on an embarrassingly easy 52-yard touchdown by LaRod Stephens-Howling on a screen pass. Terence Newman had an especially terrible second half, lowlighted by a 40-yard completion and second-and-long pass interference penalty.
One of the best performances of punter Mat McBriar's career was overshadowed by a couple of missed field goals and a pair of foolish penalties. McBriar's masterpiece in directional punting prevented record-setting punt returner Patrick Peterson from making an impact. Peterson had one return yard while McBriar pinned the Cardinals at their 11-, 10-, 3-, 20- and 5-yard lines on his five punts. But rookie kicker Dan Bailey missed field goals from 53 and 49 yards, and Orlando Scandrick's second illegal block penalty wiped out a key 35-yard punt return by Dez Bryant.
A clock-management crisis cost the Cowboys this game. Jason Garrett's decision to settle for a 49-yard field goal instead of calling one of the Cowboys' two remaining timeouts with 26 seconds remaining backfired in his face. He ended up calling one of the timeouts with seven seconds, but that was a panicked response to the play clock ticking down and essentially iced his own kicker. This might have been a case of a rookie head coach's inexperience rearing its ugly head. Oh, and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan got schooled by the Arizona coaches' halftime adjustments.