(Editor’s Note: While there may be uncertainty surrounding the NFL this offseason, the regular-season schedule remains intact. With that, DallasCowboys.com will preview each game in a 16-part series profiling the Cowboys’ 2011 opponents – their offseason and draft news, along with the recent and overall history between the two. Today, the series shifts to Game 11 against the Miami Dolphins.)
WHAT: Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 24, 3:15 p.m. (CST), CBS WHERE: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas SERIES: Dolphins lead series 7-4
- Lett It Go! - Typically, the biggest storyline of each game will have something to do with the current state of either the teams or players. But as we sit here in early July, it’s hard to discuss the Dolphins and Cowboys on Thanksgiving without the memory of the 1993 game that saw a rare snow and ice storm hit Texas Stadium. The ending was even more bizarre than the weather with Leon Lett’s infamous gaffe that gave the Dolphins the win. Since then, Miami and Dallas have met two other times on Thanksgiving, but bet on seeing that replay several times, even in the short week.
- I Know Those Guys – That statement will likely be said several times throughout the game against the Dolphins. This will be the first regular-season meeting between the Cowboys and Dolphins since 2007, and the first since former Dallas assistant Tony Sparano took over as Miami’s head coach, bringing several coaches and players with him. Who knows who will be on the roster by then, but currently six players and four coaches on the Dolphins have some Cowboys ties.
- Turkey Day – Regardless of the opponent, the annual Thanksgiving Day game is always a special occasion. From the national-television exposure, to the annual discussions of the opponents getting a raw deal having to travel on a short week, to the pageantry of the halftime show and The Salvation Army salute, there is usually plenty of excitement to go around.
- Getting Back On Track - Before last year’s thrilling game against the defending Super Bowl champions, the Cowboys not only had a four-game winning streak on Thanksgiving, but it was more of a blowout streak. The combined score of those four wins over Tampa Bay, the New York Jets, Seattle and Oakland was 130-29 before last year’s 30-27 loss to the Saints, a game in which the Cowboys held a late lead only to see a costly Roy Williams fumble turn into a Drew Brees-led drive for the winning touchdown.
Match-Up Worth Watching: One of the best left tackles in all of football is Miami’s Jake Long, the No. 1 overall pick in 2007. Long usually holds his own on the left side without much help and if that’s the case, then it should be a rather entertaining battle between Long and DeMarcus Ware, the NFL’s sack leader in two of the past three years, including a league-best 15.5 sacks in 2010.
Dolphins’ Draft Review: The Dolphins attempted to shore up the interior offensive line by taking Florida’s center/guard Mike Pouncey with the 15th overall pick. Pouncey, who also talked with the Cowboys during pre-draft visits to Valley Ranch, made headlines when he tweeted that he’d be shocked if the Cowboys didn’t take him with the No. 9 overall pick. Miami then picked up Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas in the second round, likely signaling the end of their 1-2 running back combination of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. The Dolphins also took Abilene Christian speedy receiver Edmond Gates, another player who visited Valley Ranch before the draft.
Last Meeting: In Week 2 of the 2007 season, the Cowboys hit the road for the first time under first-year head coach Wade Phillips. After three quarters of a tight battle, the Cowboys pulled away in the fourth, thanks to a pair of long touchdowns. Tony Romo’s 34-yard strike to Terrell Owens gave the Cowboys a 17-point lead. Owens’ touchdown celebration was memorable when he used the goal post to hide behind and imitate a cameraman to mock the recent claim of the New England Patriots spying on opponents using sideline cameras. Marion Barber put the game away with a 40-yard touchdown in the final minutes to give the Cowboys a convincing 37-20 win and their first 2-0 start since 1999.
One To Remember: Cowboys, Dolphins, Thanksgiving Day. You can’t really put the three together without going back to 1993 with the memorable Snow Game at Texas Stadium. Snow and ice are rare enough in Texas, especially in late November. But the storm that covered the field on this Thanksgiving Day provided one of the more memorable moments in NFL history. Despite snow angels in the end zone and an impromptu goal-line slide by Kevin Williams, the game is remembered mostly for Lett trying to pick up a blocked field goal that seemingly had won the game for the Cowboys. Instead, he fumbled the ball and Miami recovered with just a few seconds left on the clock. It was enough time to kick the game-winning field goal and give Miami a 16-14 win. It proved to be head coach Jimmy Johnson’s last loss with the Cowboys, who bounced back to win their second straight Super Bowl.