Tony Romo looked a little healthier on his way to another 300+ yards passing with three touchdowns and Terrell Owens had his best day receiving since 2000 with 7 catches for 213-yards and a score as Dallas defeated his former team, San Francisco at home today, 35-22. Rookie TE Martellus Bennett had another touchdown reception as did Patrick Crayton while Nick Folk was 4-for-4 on field goal tries, all over 40 yards.
San Francisco actually jumped out to an early 6-0 lead after two Joe Nedney field goals in the first quarter as 49?ers QB Shaun Hill connected with his receivers on two long pass plays on successive drives to get his team inside the red zone on their first two possessions. But Dallas’ defense would hold them out of the endzone on both occassions while waiting for the offense to get going. Romo and Owens finally got the offense sparked with their longest pass play of the season, a 75-yard catch-and-run early in the second quarter to get the Cowboys a 7-6 lead.
The special teams then kicked in and made some big plays stopping the Niners at their own 16-yard line where they would then get pushed back on back-to-back sacks by Spencer and Ware forcing a punt from their own endzone. Dallas’ Carlos Polk bust through the 49?ers line to block the punt out of the back of the endzone for a safety, the first blocked punt by the Cowboys since 2002! Polk also made the tackle on the previous kickoff that pinned the Niners.
The kick return team actually made several good plays in the first half of this game, but let down some in the second half allowing some good returns to the 49?ers as they were trying to get back into the game late in the third and fourth quarters, but overall a much better performance than usual by the special teams. In fact, on Dallas’ next series they were forced to punt after a holding penalty, but were able to down the ball inside the San Francisco one-yard line. The defense would hold them there and get the offense the ball back in great field position at the 49?ers 35-yard line. This led to a Folk 48-yard FG to get the lead up to 12-6.
Dallas got another big pass play from Terrell Owens, a 45-yard completion to get into 49?ers territory again, but the drive would stall soon afterwards leading to the second Nick Folk FG of 41-yards to get the score to 15-6. On the ensuing kick, Dallas again pinned the Niners deep at their own 19-yard line and quickly got a fumbled snap by Hill recovered by LB Zach Thomas. Thomas got up and returned the fumble for a touchdown, but the play was ruled down by contact and whistled dead at the point of recovery, although replay showed that he was clearly not touched by a 49?er! However such a call isn’t reviewable.
Dallas would get the score anyway on a short two-yard play-action pass to rookie TE Martellus Bennett to up the Dallas lead to 22-6 at the half.
The Cowboys would extend their lead to 29-9 after a 10-yard touchdown pass from Romo to Crayton in the third quarter but failed to completely put the Niners away as they marched 80-yards on five plays, greatly helped by two roughing-the-passer penalties against Dallas to cut the lead to 29-16. Dallas would get the following onside kick attempt inside the San Francisco 40-yard line and get another Nick Folk FG from 47-yards out to add to their lead, 35-16. Again, the 49?ers and Shaun Hill made quick work of the Dallas secondary and scored another time on a 12-yard pass to Isaac Bruce, who had a big day against the Cowboys defense, catching eight balls for 125-yards and a touchdown to get to the final 25-22 score after failing to convert the two-point try.
San Fran would attempt another onside kick, recovered by Marion Barber and the Cowboys would gain a couple of first downs by Barber and rookie RB Tashard Choice to run out the remainder of the game clock. San Francisco’s running game was basically non-existent with Frank Gore only managing to gain 26-yards, but with the Niners forced to play catch-up in the second half, he wasn’t much of a factor in the offense.
Dallas certainly did what they had to do and what they were expected to do against a weaker NFC foe, the 49?ers, and will hopefully carry some of the momentum gained from the past two wins into their annual Thanksgiving Day match-up with the struggling Seattle Seahawks, who are currently tied 10-10 with the Redskins in the third quarter of their game today.