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Bengals

GAME RECAP: Cowboys 28, Bengals 14

zeke-bangals2It was all fun and games in Arlington on Sunday as the Cowboys had their way with the Bengals.  Dak continued to look poised in the pocket as he managed to make it to his 3rd and 4th read at will. The offensive line had their best game yet against a defensive front 7 that is the heart and sole of a usually stout defense. We all know how much the Cowboys have sunk into this offensive line – the Bengals have done the same with their defensive front. Their best vs our best. The result?  180 yards rushing, 134 from Ezekiel Elliott, 3 rushing touchdowns, 227 yards passing and 1 passing touchdown. The low point (because you have to stay grounded) was Dak’s first turnover of the year. The offensive line gave up just 1 sack on the day which resulted in a fumble which the Bengals recovered. That turnover ended a 12 play, 57 yard and nearly 8 minute drive at the CIN 18 yard line. The Cowboys were driving and about to make it 35-0. Instead, the Bengals recovered the fumble and 10 plays later cut their deficit to 28-7.

dlaw2The Cowboys didn’t give up any big plays as their secondary was firm and Bengals QB Andy Dalton found himself under pressure within 2-3 second on nearly every drop back. The Cowboys actually had a pass rush for the first time all year thanks to the return of Demarcus Lawrence. Lawrence didn’t record a sack, but came very close on two separate occasions – we’ll chalk that up to the rust factor. But his speed off the end forced Dalton out of the pocket and right into our other 3 rushers, resulting in 4 sacks. As the weeks progress, and Lawrence gets continues to get his feet back, he won’t miss those opportunities. Rest assured, if he does, the other guys bull rushing from the other side won’t. AJ Green caught half of his 8 targets for just 50 yards while Brandon LaFell caught 8 for 68 and two TDs. The Bengals couldn’t seem to to get a quick score as both scoring drives were 10+ plays and over 5 minutes. The Cowboys were giving up the short plays to eliminate the quick strikes.

Call me crazy, but this is exactly the way I like to watch my teams. Relaxed, with my feet up, blood pressure at a nice calm rate.  There was never a time throughout the entire game where I was even a little worried.  Dak continued to spread the ball around, Zeke busted a 60 yard touchdown run (untouched), the defense was swarming around the ball. It was utter domination beginning to end. All of this without Dez Bryant and Orlando Scandrick. Dez was sidelined another week with the hairline fracture in his leg, and Orlando rested his hamstrings another week. The offense didn’t miss a beat thanks to Terrence Williams catching all 5 of his targets for 70 yards and Jason Witten’s 3 catches and 43 yards with an absolutely beautiful stiff arm of Derron Smith:

jason-witten-stiff-arm

The Cowboys will look to continue this 4 game winning streak in which they have progressed significantly each week as they head into Lambeau to face the 3-1 Packers. A win there will officially start the conversation about a certain Cowboy’s retirement. But for now, let’s enjoy this week, as it’s back to work tomorrow.

Keys to the Game Scorecard:

  • Time of Possession: Cowboys lost this stat 32:17-27:43. When you lose a whole possession by taking the first play 60 yards for a score, that tends to happen.
  • Convert in the Red Zone: The Cowboys were 3-4 in the red zone, converting those 3 chances into Touchdowns. The one failed trip was the lost fumble by Dak Prescott. Dan Bailey ended up playing this game but allowing him to focus on a 32 yard extra point is a lot better on the back than kicking 50 yard field goals. Just to note: Bailey made all 4 of his extra point attempts with ease.
  • Play Smart: No stupid penalties this time around. There were a couple pass interference plays that I didn’t have a problem with. Morris Claiborne was penalized twice on one drive that extended the drive, but made a great play in the end zone which resulted in a missed field goal. The following play was the 60 yard gallop by Zeke.

Prediction Scorecard:

Zeke runs wild:

Cowboys:            31

Bengals:               27

I had the “Zeke runs wild” part down, although I did not see this defense playing as soundly as they did, nor did I think we wouldn’t miss Dez against a reportedly solid Bengals Defense. When I am wrong, I want it to be in this way!

Week 5 Preview: Bengals @ Cowboys

Game Time: 3:25

Location: ATT Stadium, Arlington, Texas

Line: Cowboys -1.5

Zach Martin shouldn’t have to worry about who is wife will support on Sunday afternoon as her brother, Bengals TE Tyler Eifert, will be sidelined with a back injury. Unfortunately, the Cowboys will have their own problems with who suits up on Sunday. Just to name a few of the Cowboys who did not practice on Wednesday: K – Dan Bailey (back), WR – Dez Bryant (knee), RB – Lance Dunbar (knee), OT – Chaz Green (foot), DT – David Irving (Concussion), G – La’El Collins (toe, moved to IR).

demarcus-lawrenceThere were several others who were limited participants, namely CB Orlando Scandrick and OT Tyron Smith. On a more positive side, DeMarcus Lawrence is back this week which means we could see some resemblance of a, wait for it… wait for it… PASS RUSH! For those of you who don’t remember what this is, a “Pass Rush” is typically where the Defensive End gets around the Offensive Tackle and sacks the QB within 3 seconds. The QB shouldn’t have 7 or 8 seconds to scan and re-scan the field every time he drops back.

So now that we are caught up on who is playing where, what does that mean for Sunday? Ezekiel Elliott is the NFL’s leading rusher through 4 weeks. At his current pace, he should end with over 1600 rushing yards. This Bengals team will let you run on them. They are giving up an average of 3.8 yards per carry on the ground so far this year and haven’t seen anything close to the Cowboys’ rushing attack yet. Establishing the run game early will help the Dak and the passing game. It’s still uncertain if Dez plays on Sunday, so let’s assume he’s out. Bryce Butler had a good game but didn’t really stretch the field like we’d hoped, Terrence Williams apparently didn’t learn from his week 1 goof and refused to go out of bounds before the half and Cole Beasley was contained for most of the game. Not having Dez on the field affects everyone. All the more reason for the Cowboys to continue to pound the ball and control the clock. The longer they keep the Bengals weapons in the arsenal the better.

Cincinnati Bengals' A.J. Green (18) tries to avoid Houston Texans' A.J. Bouye (34) as he runs with the ball during the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)

Defensively, the Cowboys will have their first big test. AJ Green is a big play threat on every play and is averaging 14.6 yards per reception with 2 TDs. Watching Jeremy Hill run against the Dolphins (I know it’s the Dolphins) was scary. He has good feet and won’t go down if you don’t wrap up. With Orlando Scandrick questionable Sunday, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr have to shut down Green and make the other receivers beat them, which they are more than capable of doing. Giovani Bernard and Brandon LaFell can each make plays if you sleep on them. Best way to defend this Offense? Don’t let them on the field.

Keys to the Game:

  • Time of Possession: The Cowboys continue to increase their margin in this area. The more Zeke gets familiar with the NFL and this offensive line gels with whoever is manning it, the more this gap will continue to grow.
  • Convert in the Red Zone: The Cowboys may be without Kicker Dan Bailey on Sunday. This means either Safety Jeff Heath will be kicking field goals or a Free Agent like Robbie Gould will be brought in to handle that responsibility. Either way, getting in the end zone would help a lot this week more than ever.
  • Play Smart: Bryce Butler had a big play brought back last week after he spun the ball on the defender. This led to a punt. You can get away with it against the 49ers. That might change the game against opponents like Cincinnati, Green Bay, Philadelphia and Pittsburg (4 of the next 5 games)

Prediction: Zeke runs wild…

Cowboys:   31, Bengals:   27

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