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10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Thrilling Win In Pittsburgh

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Headlines - 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Thrilling Win In Pittsburgh

Listen to an audio version of this article on Bumpers!

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I stubbed my toe on Monday morning. You know what that's like... it's the smallest of pains, but it looms so large. It's both annoying and agonizing. After I shrieked I audibly said, "Oh well. 8-1!".

8-1. It's so beautiful.

The Dallas Cowboys have the best record in the NFL, and they achieved it by ripping victory out of the jaws of one of their oldest rivals - the Pittsburgh Steelers. I witnessed the game in person and have some thoughts, here are my 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Thrilling Win In Pittsburgh.

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There Is Nobody On Earth Like Dez Bryant

Cowboys Headlines - 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Thrilling Win In Pittsburgh 1

The devotion, discipline, and overall character of Dez Bryant has been questioned time and time again over the past six and a half seasons (can you believe it's already been that long?). That needs to end now. Forever.

Dez Bryant suited up and played for the Cowboys on Sunday in Pittsburgh just 24 hours after learning that his father had passed away. The impact of this on someone is not measurable, and Dez Bryant is no exception to that. He managed to play through this, and did so heroically.

Dak Prescott looked Bryant's way more than any other Cowboy (9 total times) and connected with him six times for a whopping 116 yards, not to mention a 50-yard touchdown. Dak also told Dez that his father had "the best seat in the house" for the game, and what a house it was Sunday evening.

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Leon McFadden Deserves A Lot Of Credit

Cowboys Headlines - 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Thrilling Win In Pittsburgh 2

Had the Pittsburgh Steelers won this contest - they didn't, suckers - the play of the game would have undoubtedly been the fake spike that Ben Roethlisberger turned into an Antonio Brown touchdown.

Jason Garrett said in his Monday Press Conference that Leon McFadden, unlike his teammates, was not caught off guard by that play... and the film backs that up.

While every other Cowboy was repeating their post-Cleveland mannequin challenge, Leon McFadden was playing football. He ran step for step with Antonio Brown, he just got beat. It happens. That's the best wide receiver in the NFL, but Leon McFadden was prepared for him. Kudos.

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Terrance Williams Is Very Valuable To This Team

Cowboys Headlines - 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Thrilling Win In Pittsburgh 3

In the days of the offseason, the cries for Brice Butler to replace Terrance Williams as this team's number two wide receiver were very loud. When Terrance had a mental lapse in Week 1 (the Cowboys only loss) those reached uncontrollable levels.

Terrance Williams has been huge for this team, in many different ways. Near the end of the first quarter Dak Prescott found Ezekiel Elliott on a screen pass that went 83 yards to the house, but that doesn't happen without Terrance.

Williams threw a block at the Pittsburgh 45-yard line that gave Zeke the final level of freedom to score on the play. Simply put, the touchdown does not happen without Terrance Williams. Give the man some love.

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DeMarcus Lawrence Is Beginning To Dominate

The Cowboys are masters of duct tape when it comes to the pass rush. You know how to run? Cool, Rod Marinelli will make it work. It certainly felt like this was the strategy through the first four games of the season when DeMarcus Lawrence was absent due to suspension.

//insidethestar.com/cowboys-headlines/history-indicates-demarcus-lawrence-is-about-to-dominate/

DeMarcus was all over the Steelers throughout the contest. His stat line only credits him with four tackles, but it was because of DLaw and his consistent pressure that the Cowboys were able to keep the Steelers at bay.

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Dak Prescott Can Definitely Do Things Tony Romo Can't

Cowboys Headlines - 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Thrilling Win In Pittsburgh 4

The quarterback discussion - controversy is such a tired word - in Dallas still has life in it in my opinion (check back here at Inside The Star later in the week), but there is truth to the claim that Dak Prescott can do things Tony Romo seemingly can't anymore.

Take a look at the Dez Bryant touchdown from Sunday. Seconds after this I said to my Dad in the stands, "We haven't seen Tony Romo move in the pocket like that in quite some time."

Ryan Shazier breaks through Lance Dunbar and Jason Witten to generate some serious pressure on Prescott. Dak plants his right foot and explodes to his left, evading Shazier, and immediately plants his feet before delivering a ball that travels about 50 yards. As Tony Romo apparently mouthed on the broadcast moments later, it was a dime.

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The Cowboys Could Go The Whole Season Without Allowing A 100-Yard Rusher

Cowboys Headlines - 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Thrilling Win In Pittsburgh 5

Rod Marinelli's defense is through nine games and they have yet to let an opposing running back hit triple digits when it comes to yardage. Stand up and applaud them, please.

Le'Veon Bell - one of the best backs in the game - could only muster 57 yards on the ground against this crew. He is arguably the most talented running back that the Cowboys will face through the end of the regular season, and they protected their streak against him. Double digits are awesome!

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Only Good Things Come From The Lucky Whitehead Jet Sweep

Cowboys Headlines - 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Thrilling Win In Pittsburgh 6

Lucky Whitehead picked up 26 yards on a jet sweep near the end of the first half in Green Bay that allowed the Cowboys to keep their drive alive and score a touchdown. I fully believe the jet sweep was the catalyst that changed the game at Lambeau Field.

On the Dak-to-Zeke 83-yard screen play touchdown, the Cowboys ran a fake jet sweep to Lucky. Look how many Steelers are concerned with Lucky, this allowed Zeke to sneak out to the opposite side of the field. This play is magic. Run it 500 times a game, please.

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Going For Two Has A Price

Cowboys Headlines - 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Thrilling Win In Pittsburgh 8

Since the NFL moved the extra points back, Mike Tomlin has notoriously gone for two more than any other Head Coach in the NFL. Obviously there are pros and cons to this methodology, but there's no denying that the Steelers inability to convert any of them plagued them late.

Jason Garrett said on Monday that the Cowboys devoted a bit more time in preparation for this last week, and it obviously paid off. Coach Garrett preaches a "day by day" and "play by play" mentality, and the fact that the Cowboys were able to respond and hold Pittsburgh to no successful conversions one play after giving up a touchdown each time is highly impressive.

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Ezekiel Elliott Has Surpassed The Ridiculously High Hype

Cowboys Headlines - 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Thrilling Win In Pittsburgh 7

209 yards of total offense. 3 touchdowns, including the game-winner. Ezekiel Elliott is a yardage-eating monster that the NFL has been fearful of since the moment Roger Goodell read his name aloud as the 4th Overall Pick.

Take a moment to think back on this hype. This is Ezekiel Elliott, from The Ohio State University, playing for the Dallas Cowboys, he has the best offensive line in the game, he wears crop tops, he gets analysts suspended... this 21-year old has obliterated it all.

Ezekiel Elliott is the NFL MVP. There is no debate.

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The Cowboys Took The Steelers Best Shot, And They Came Out With The Win

I highly encourage you to read what Bob Labriola wrote at Steelers.com regarding this game, this is obviously Pittsburgh's official team site so it's written from their perspective and out of total objectivity. It's phenomenal.

The Steelers played very well. Ben Roethlisberger topped 400 yards. They connected on a fake spike of all things late in the fourth quarter to take the lead... they did everything right. The Cowboys just did more, because they're an elite football team. There is no more hype, there is no hyperbole... this is the best team in the National Football League.

What were your takeaways from the Cowboys thrilling win in Pittsburgh? Let us know! Comment below, Email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!

Tell us what you think about "10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Thrilling Win In Pittsburgh" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Next Day Rant: Cowboys Drafting LB Vander Esch Looks Pretty Smart Now

Dallas Cowboys' rookie Leighton Vander Esch has done enough to prove every single doubter wrong. When Roger Goodell called his name during the 2018 NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas, many in Cowboys Nation rejoiced at the thought of having a young linebacker for a defense surrounded with uncertainty. However, many analysts doubted the draft pick. For a lot of people (sadly, I include myself in this category), the pick should've been used on another player. For most, despite acknowledging his raw talent, Vander Esch wouldn't be able to provide the Cowboys with an instant impact player. Ah, well.

After a remarkable season, Vander Esch (a.k.a. Wolf Hunter) has earned a spot on this season's second-team All-Pro. When the Pro Bowl voting began, Vander Esch was snubbed from the ballot itself. It didn't took the NFL long to realize their mistake and add the Cowboys' linebacker to the list. Despite missing the cut at first, Vander Esch will be heading to Orlando to play in this year's Pro Bowl on January 27th.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

DallasCowboys linebacker @VanderEsch38 has been added to the 2019 Pro Bowl Roster. 🐺 Congratulations, rookie! → https://t.co/AYqEUy2tZx

The former Boise State Bronco will be replacing Carolina Panthers' LB Luke Kuechly, who won't be participating because of an injury.

Vander Esch racked up 140 tackles (per Pro Football Reference), ranking third in the league in this category. He finished the season as the fifth best linebacker in Pro Football Focus' rankings.

But numbers aren't really enough to fully appreciate what Vander Esch did for the Dallas Cowboys. A team that was used to seeing its defense break when veteran Sean Lee went down injured, did not only get someone to fill in for Lee. Vander Esch actually upgraded the Cowboys' defense. It didn't matter where the ball went, he was always around when opponents were tackled. His speed and chance of direction allowed him to run sideline to sideline, covering a huge portion of the field.

Along Jaylon Smith, Dallas managed to have one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL.

The last time a defensive rookie from the Cowboys went to the Pro Bowl was in 1981, when Everson Walls made the team. Vander Esch is the 11th rookie in team history to be selected to the Pro Bowl. This year, the rookie will be accompanied by DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Ezekiel Elliott.

Tell me what you think about "Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Cowboys Expect C Travis Frederick Back for Offseason Program

Jess Haynie

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Travis Frederick

Lost in yesterday's hoopla over Scott Linehan's return was a positive report about Center Travis Frederick. In his comments to the media, Jason Garrett said that Frederick's recovery timetable should allow him to a full participant in the team's offseason program.

After never missing a start in his first five years, Travis missed all of 2018 dealing with the effects of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The disease attacked his neurological system and required immediate and intensive treatment.

Rob Phillips on Twitter

Jason Garrett says the team anticipates Travis Frederick being involved in the offseason program right from the start this spring if he continues on the same positive track in recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. #cowboyswire

While Joe Looney performed admirably in Frederick's absence, he's not an elite talent. Travis has been arguably the best center in the NFL since entering the league in 2013.

It's hard to qualify what effect not having Frederick had on the Cowboys offense in 2018. Ezekiel Elliott still led the league in rushing, but short-yardage plays weren't as automatic as we've seen in past years. A 4th-and-1 stuff was part of what led to the Cowboys' loss this past Saturday.

Dak Prescott was the second-most sacked QB in the NFL in 2018. After being sacked just 25 and 32 times in his first two seasons, the number skyrocketed to 56 sacks.

That's not all on Frederick, of course. Tyron Smith had some health issues and there were was turnover at left guard.

But having your All-Pro veteran center out there to help with the pre-snap reads, and help the rookie guard on his left, might have helped avoid some of those issues.

Indeed, Travis Frederick's return is just one of many reasons for optimism with the 2019 season. One of the best players on the team, he was sorely missed this year and can only help as Dallas looks to build on their division title and playoff appearance.



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For Cowboys to Beat the Rams, Dak Prescott must Lead the Way

John Williams

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Playoff Scenarios Aim Towards Seahawks vs Cowboys in Wild Card

In the NFL wins and losses often come down to quarterback play. That isn't to say that if a team wins, it was all because of the quarterback and inversely, if a team loses that it was all on the quarterback. Teams win or lose games. Generally speaking, however, the quarterback has the highest amount of influence on the outcome of an NFL game. This will be no different for the Dallas Cowboys this Saturday when they take on the Los Angeles Rams in the LA Coliseum. For America's Team to make their first trip to the NFC Championship Game since 1996, Dak Prescott has to have a good game.

This looks to be a good matchup for the Dallas Cowboys offense, which should allow Dak Prescott and the Cowboys to take advantage in certain areas.

A few Rams Passing Game Notes

  • The Los Angeles Rams were middle of the pack against the pass this season, allowing the 14th fewest passing yards in the league this season.
  • The Rams allowed 7.7 yards per attempt. Dak Prescott is averaging 7.6 yards per attempt since week 10 of the season.
  • The Rams allowed the eighth most passing touchdowns in the NFL this season. They and the New Orleans Saints are the only teams in the top 10 of passing touchdowns allowed in the playoffs this season.
  • The Rams were 15th in the NFL in sacks, with 41, but Aaron Donald accounted for half of that with 20.5 sacks on the season. No other player had more than five sacks.
  • They were third in the NFL in interceptions, collecting 18.
  • The Rams allowed the ninth highest yards per completion on the season at 11.8. So on average, every completion went for a first down.

Dak Prescott is playing as well as any quarterback in the playoffs at the moment. Over the last nine games, he's averaging 272 passing yards, two total touchdowns, was only intercepted four times, and was sacked on average 3.2 times per game.

On Saturday night, we saw Scott Linehan put the ball in his hands on a couple designed runs that nearly scored touchdowns. It was an excellent addition to the offense that could help fix the Cowboys red zone woes. Getting Dak Prescott running on some designed runs or quarterback draws could help slow down Aaron Donald and the pass rush.

The Cowboys needed every bit of Dak Prescott magic to overcome a stingy Seattle Seahawks defense in their Wild Card win and they'll need him to step up again this week against the Rams. Every team is going to attempt to take away the running game to make Dak beat you and as he continues to mature, he's getting more and more comfortable doing that. He's comfortable with the big stage and the big moments.

NFL Research on Twitter

Dak Prescott Since 2016, including playoffs * 15 game-winning drives (Most in NFL) * 13 primetime QB wins (Most in NFL) * 19 rush TD (Most in NFL by QB) #DallasCowboys @dak

No Quarterback in the NFL has more game winning drives, rushing touchdowns, or wins in primetime than Dak Prescott. When we talk about Dak Prescott, we talk a lot about the things that he can't do as a passer and deservedly so, he still has some growing to do in that area, but in the things that you can't objectively quantify -- mental toughness, resiliency, clutchness, will, determination -- Dak is one of the best in the NFL. He's as mentally tough as they come in the NFL and he doesn't let the spotlight or the game situation phase him. He has that stuff that's hard to put your finger on.

The Dallas Cowboys will need more of that on Saturday night in Los Angeles. The Rams can score and can score in bunches and if the Cowboys defense starts sluggish or has an off night, they'll need Dak Prescott to keep them in the game. Even if the defense has a good game, Dak still has to come through in the passing game and on the ground to give the Cowboys a chance to pull off the upset.

The Dallas Cowboys are going to try to run the ball against the Rams on Saturday. That's their identity; run the ball, control the clock, and be efficient in the passing game. Prescott, either with his legs or with his arm will have to make some plays to extend drives and keep the Rams offense on the sideline. He'll need to be sharp in the red zone to convert those opportunities into touchdowns. Settling for field goals against the Rams is how the Cowboys get beat.

This matchup with the Rams looks to set up nicely for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, yet how things look on paper doesn't mean much when the lights go on and the whistle blows. It's a big stage and it's another win-or-go-home game for the Cowboys (like every game has been over the last nine weeks). In a big game, you need big time players, and the Cowboys have one in quarterback Dak Prescott.



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