Through the first couple months of the NFL season, the focus was on the Arizona Cardinals’ standing in the NFC West.
Eyes are on a much bigger standing this week.
After a thrilling 24-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, the Cardinals are 6-1 and sitting alone atop the entire NFC, tied with the Denver Broncos for the best record in the NFL.
The Cardinals offense has seen a significant uptick with the return of starting quarterback Carson Palmer. Wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown both had over 100 receiving yards on Sunday, with Brown scoring on a 75-yard touchdown in the last two minutes to give Arizona the win.
The Cardinals win on Sunday helped get them to the top of the conference, but their next opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, also aided with a Monday night loss.
The Cowboys fell to the Washington Redskins 20-17 in overtime, dropping them to 6-2. Dallas’ defense looked more vulnerable in the loss than it has all season, allowing over 400 total yards and only forcing one turnover against a Washington team that was being led by third-string quarterback Colt McCoy.
The bigger story in Dallas though may be the health of starting quarterback Tony Romo, with the 34-year-old suffering a back contusion during the loss.
With the Cardinals traveling to Dallas for the premier matchup in the NFC this week, we’ll head behind enemy lines and bring all the news and updates from the Cowboys:
Friday, October 31
• Emmitt Smith warns RB Murray to know when to get tackled (Bleacher Report)
Legendary Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith knew how to run the ball, and that also means he knew when to give up on the run and stop fighting for yards. After current running back Demarco Murray’s fifth fumble of the season on Sunday, Smith warned Murray on Twitter to give up on some plays.
• Preventing pressure will be key for Dallas on Sunday (DallasCowboys.com)
The Cowboys’ offensive line was exposed on Monday, with constant pressure and sacks on quarterback Tony Romo proving to be a crucial difference in the loss. Dallas knows that they have a similar blitz-happy team coming this week, and must seal up the holes in the offensive line to get a win.
• Brandon Weeden is ready for the start on Sunday (The Dallas Morning News)
Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden got a taste of the action against the Redskins on Sunday, when he filled in for Tony Romo after the starter was injured. With Weeden taking all of the snaps during the practices this week, the backup is fired up for the chance to start against Arizona.
• LB Justin Durant may have played last game with Dallas (Star-Telegram.com)
The Cowboys’ linebackers were recovering well after a multitude of injuries before the season, largely thanks to Justin Durant, who was having his best season at weakside linebacker. But after a torn bicep in Sunday’s loss, Durant is now on injured reserve and may not be playing in Dallas next season.
Thursday, October 30
• Redskins created guide to beat Dallas on Monday (Bleacher Report)
The Redskins win against the Cowboys on Monday did more than raise the number in the loss column for Dallas, it showed teams how to beat the NFC juggernaut. With creative and constant blitzes, the Redskins exposed the serious flaws in the Cowboys’ gameplan.
• Henry Melton is impressing with a return to form (Cowboys.com)
Despite coming off of a major injury in 2013, the Cowboys signed defensive lineman Henry Melton hoping that he could bring the quarterback pressure he showed with the Chicago Bears. After getting a sack on Monday, Melton is proving that this could be a sound investment for Dallas.
After being arrested for shoplifting on Oct. 13, Cowboys running back Joseph Randle repeatedly made inappropriate jokes to the police while being detained.
• Rookie DE Lawrence is hoping to make debut on Sunday (Star-Telegram.com)
The Cowboys took DeMarcus Lawrence in the second round of the 2014 draft to provide an immediate pass rush from defensive end. A broken foot in July briefly derailed those expectations, but Lawrence is healed and hungry to get some game action.
• Cowboys were overly optimistic about Romo’s injury (The Dallas Morning News)
When questioned about quarterback Tony Romo’s back injury after their loss on Monday, the owner and coaches downplayed the injury, relieving fans of any long-term risk. With Romo’s status for Sunday’s game still unclear, the Cowboys may have more of an issue than they originally presumed.
Tuesday, October 28
• Cowboys disoriented after Monday’s loss (The Dallas Morning News)
Even after Tony Romo’s injury, the Cowboys were expected to get the win on Monday. Instead, the team came up short and now looks lost after being given multiple opportunities to win late in the game and failing.
• Dallas needs to get more run-focused (Blogging the Boys)
Cowboys running back Demarco Murray has been the best back in football this season, with 1,054 rushing yards through eight games. After constistently giving in to the temptation to pass in Monday’s loss, Dallas needs to get back to controlling the ball with their ground game.
• Playing Romo despite injury is unnecessary gamble for Dallas (Bleacher Report)
Tony Romo began the season still recovering from back surgery, a fact that fans were reminded of when the quarterback was briefly knocked out of Sunday’s game with a back injury. With Romo returning for two futile drives at the end of the game, Dallas risked their entire season on a possible October win over Washington.
• Cowboys defense looked exhausted in Monday’s loss (The Dallas Morning News)
For the first time in 2014, the Cowboys’ defense was forced to win the game for the team, and it failed. With the offense unable to help with high scoring or ball control, the defense looked overmatched and tired trying to stop Washington.
• Safety Barry Church takes the blame in the loss (ESPN.com)
As the Cowboys’ defensive captain and starting free safety, a lot is expected of Barry Church. The 26-year-old said that he disappointed in Monday’s game, and his crucial mistakes cost the team a win.