Over the last seven weeks, the Cowboys seemed to find every way possible to lose. They squandered leads in the fourth quarter on a regular basis while being led by the combination of Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel. But finally, Tony Romo came back after breaking his collarbone in week two and it made all the difference as Dallas snapped a seven game losing streak with a 24-14 win in Miami.
While it was not the best effort by the Dallas offense, who was a little hit or miss in this game, the Dallas defense sure played lights out. They got an interception return for a touchdown and limited Miami to just 210 total yards of offense.
After a scoreless first quarter, Rolando McClain got Dallas on the board with a 12 yard interception return for a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. This came off the heels of a deep Dallas drive that had ended in a Romo interception on a miscommunication with Dez Bryant that went right into the hands of Brent Grimes. But, McClain made the play by reading the eyes of Ryan Tannehill perfectly and scoring the opening touchdown.
Later in the second Dallas had a drive that was much like the offense they had last year. Robert Turbin played a big role in the second quarter as a second back to Darren McFadden and gave the offense a lift. Riding him most of that series Dallas drove 93 yards for the score, capped off by a 31 yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams on third and ten.
However, an excessive celebration penalty and a short kickoff by Dallas gave the Dolphins the ball near midfield. With just over a minute left in the half, Tannehill drove the Dolphins down the field and capped off the drive with a touchdown pass to Jordan Cameron to cut the deficit to 14-7 going into half.
On the first possession of the second half, Romo threw his second interception of the game. However the defense stood firm and forced a punt by the Dolphins. Miami's defense stepped up on the next series and forced a three and out, which would give them good field position at their own 42.
On second down Tannehill hit running back Jay Ajayi for a 20 yard gain into Dallas territory. Two plays later Kenny Stills got behind Byron Jones and Tannehill hit him in stride for a touchdown which tied the game. But Dallas would answer with an eight play, 80 yard drive, capped off by a touchdown pass to Bryant on the first play of the fourth quarter to put Dallas back on top. Later in the fourth Dallas added a field goal to ice the win.
Even though Romo returned he was a littler erratic. Some passes were on point while others were drastically off. McFadden carried the load on offense with 129 yards on 29 carries, but it was the defense that truly won this game for Dallas. They put pressure on Tannehill, held Miami to 70 total rushing yards and contained Jarvis Landry—who had just four catches for 66 yards.
On Thanksgiving Dallas will host the undefeated Carolina Panthers in what is suddenly a very interesting contest. The Panthers are rolling obviously, but can Dallas carry this momentum into a holiday upset? Of course all eyes will be on Greg Hardy as the mercurial Cowboy defensive end take the field against his former team. Don't count the Cowboys out in that game. For the Dolphins, they head to New York to take on the Jets next week in what will be basically a do-or-die game for them in the AFC Wild Card picture.