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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:

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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!

GAME RECAP: Cowboys 27 – Redskins 23

After the Cowboys win in Landover, one thing is for certain: the Redskins have issues. Kirk Cousins threw for 364 yards and 1 TD, but should have had 3 more easy ones as Jamison Crowder and DeSean Jackson both had breakaways well past the Cowboy secondary only to be over thrown. Redskins Running Back, Matt Jones, had a good game as well rushing for 61 yards on only 13 carries. Why Jay Gruden doesn’t run more is beyond me. Not saying Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is perfect, but he did try to be less predictable with an onside kick in the middle of the game, which caught both teams off guard when the ball didn’t travel the 10 yards required. I want to feel good about this win, I do, but watching all the blatant missed opportunities by Washington makes it difficult. However, this isn’t a Redskins blog, so HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS!

Rush to Judgment

Dak Prescott was full of poise and grace as he threw for 292 yards completing 22/30 attempts and Zeke Elliott rushed for 83 yards on 21 attempts for an average of 4 yards per carry. Zeke was definitely improved, but the rookie has room to grow. He ‘left some meat on the bone’ so to speak. The Offensive line looked to avenge their lack luster run blocking from week 1 and they did. They were opening holes and getting to the second level consistently. One thing to remember for you rush to judgment on Zeke, he had a total of 14 snaps in the preseason. He will continue to improve as he adapts to the pace of the NFL and gets a feel for the offensive line. Josh Norman held Dez to 0 catches, but primarily played on the left side of the field so Dez was able to catch 7 for 102 yards against Baushaud Breeland, the point is moot.

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Claiborne Supremacy

Morris Claiborne played about as well as we’ve ever seen. He was quick and made stops with minimal contact which is exactly what you want out of your corners. He gets the defensive player of the game from me. What we’ve longed for out of Mo since we moved WAY up to get him in the first round of 2012 finally came to fruition. Also showing defensive prowess was Safety Barry Church and Linebacker Justin Durant. Church came away with a crucial interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter and Durant almost had one with 2 minutes to go in the game. It wasn’t all good on the defensive side, however. The secondary got flat out burnt more than once but since Kirk Cousins was the passer, they fell incomplete. They left Josh Doctson, the 1st round pick WR out of TCU, unattended to triple team DeSean Jackson which cost them 57 yards and would’ve resulted in a TD if not for the closing speed and hustle of Safety Byron Jones. The Defensive line looked strong but lacked the speed to get to Cousins. This is expected when you are playing four tackles on your line. Due to suspensions and injury, the boys have been forced to play Benson Mayowa and Jack Crawford at the end spots.

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Keys to the Game

Before the game, I outlined 3 keys for a Cowboys win over the Redskins.  Let’s take a look and see how the ‘Boys did.

  • Dallas MUST establish the run early.  – Zeke ran the ball well and the offensive line showed the fire they lacked in the opener.
  • Dez Bryant needs to be targeted like the Elite receiver we all believe he is. – Dez eclipsed the 100 yard mark for the first time in 6 straight games. He didn’t have a catch against Josh Norman, though.
  • The Cowboys need to have a middle linebacker.  – Still an issue. Matt Jones rushed for almost 5 yards a carry. I wish I could say we had a guy coming back off of injury or short suspension, but we don’t. Rolando McClain is 2 games into his 10 game suspension, however, no one is planning on him to ever play a snap again for the Cowboys.

Two of three keys was good enough for Dallas to earn a win in Washington and with Chicago and San Francisco in weeks 3 and 4, the Cowboys are well on their way to a good start in 2016.

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