Cowboys winning games in spite of prolific penalty calls
BY SCHUYLER DIXON Associated Press
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
11/14/12 at 3:35 AM
IRVING, Texas - Somewhere in the middle of six defensive penalties that gave Philadelphia first downs, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett turned to backup quarterback Kyle Orton to talk a little game simulation.
"I want to hear 800 hard counts in practice this week," Garrett recalled himself saying while watching jumpy Dallas defenders pile up the offsides calls Sunday.
The game was the fourth in which Dallas has committed 13 penalties this season, but here's the funny part. The Cowboys are 3-1 in those games after beating the Eagles 38-23, and they are 0-2 with their season low in yellow flags - two.
"Oh, I think there's a few different ways you can spin that," Garrett said. "You know, for years the Oakland Raiders were the most penalized team and they won a lot of football games. And they used to spin it like it was an aggressive nature that they had and that's the kind of team that they wanted to be. I don't buy that completely, though. You don't want to hurt yourself as a football team."
The penalties ultimately didn't hurt Dallas (4-5) against the Eagles because that same defense scored two touchdowns on an interception return by Brandon Carr and a fumble recovery by Jason Hatcher.
Hatcher had the first two offsides penalties, both resulting in first downs on third-down plays on the Eagles' first drive. Philadelphia was the only team in the league without points on its opening drive before getting a touchdown Sunday.
The Hatcher penalties were at least explainable because he's a defensive lineman, prone to jump when a quarterback puts some emphasis on a signal without taking the snap - the so-called hard count. It doesn't make sense when a cornerback does it away from the ball, and rookie Morris Claiborne jumped twice.
"As a defensive football team you are always teaching aggressiveness, getting off the ball, attacking and all of that," Garrett said. "But at the same time you have to be disciplined."
Maybe Claiborne was just having a bad day, perhaps his worst as a pro. He got beat for the game-opening touchdown by Riley Cooper, who had just two catches for the season before a leaping one-handed touchdown grab. Claiborne also was called for defensive holding twice and interference once.
The Cowboys, tied for second in the league with 74 penalties going into Sunday's home game against Cleveland (2-7), had 13 in three of the first five games, and most of the talk then was about an offensive line committing too many false starts and holding penalties.
Against Philadelphia, the focus of the problem shifted to the defensive line, but this was the same group that pressured Michael Vick early and sidelined him with a concussion. The Cowboys sacked rookie backup Nick Foles twice, including one that resulted in Hatcher's touchdown.
Original Print Headline: Cowboys winning with prolific penalty calls
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Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett argues a call with head linesman Jerry Bergman in the first half of Sunday's game against the Eagles in Philadelphia. JULIO CORTEZ / Associated Press