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3 Game Wreckers Dallas Cowboys Must Contain Against the Rams

Brian Martin

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3 Game Wreckers Dallas Cowboys Must Contain Against the Rams

Last week in the Wild Card round against Seattle I identified three Seahawks players who I believed the Dallas Cowboys absolutely had to contain if they wanted to advance in the playoffs. I appropriately titled these players "game wreckers", because I believe that's exactly what they are. Today, I'm going to do the same for the Los Angeles Rams.

"Game wreckers" to me are players who can take over the game by themselves. You know, the kind of players who have true game changing ability to positively or negatively impact the outcome of a particular game based on their play. For opposing teams, these are the players they must keep in check if they want to have any chance at coming away with the "W".

This week in the Divisional Round I believe there are three players in particular the Dallas Cowboys have to contain against the Rams in order to give themselves their best chance at moving on in the playoffs. Continue reading below to see who and why I chose these "game wreckers".

RB, Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley

Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Los Angeles Rams Running Back Todd Gurley is a no-brainer for this list. Leaving him off would be an injustice to the game of football and make all of you question me as a writer. Gurley is arguably the best RB in the entire NFL, although Ezekiel Elliott is definitely in that discussion as well. But, that's a debate for another time.

For the Dallas Cowboys, keeping Todd Gurley in check is an absolute must. He has been a touchdown machine this season scoring 17 on the ground and adding another four in the passing game. He is a complete back who can do damage from anywhere on the field, much like Zeke does in the Cowboys offense. That fits the "game wrecker" criteria to a T.

Gurley might not be 100% healthy for Saturday's game though. He was held out the last two weeks of the regular season and was limited in practice earlier this week. According to injury reports though, he was a full participant in Thursday's practice, meaning he's probably good to go against the Cowboys. Regardless, he still dangerous even if he's not fully healthy.


DT, Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald

Another LA Rams player who fits the criteria as a "game wrecker" to a T is Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald. Donald is arguably one of the most disruptive defensive lineman in the entire NFL and should be a serious contender for this year's MVP. Yes, a defensive player. I know it's a rarity, but it's entirely possible after the season he's had.

Aaron Donald has absolutely dominated this year, especially getting after opposing quarterbacks. He fell just short of Michael Strahan's QB sack record (22.5) with 20.5. Although, I'm one of those people that would put an asterisk next to Strahan's record because of the give me sack he received from Brett Favre. There's no questioning how Donald has accumulated all of his though.

The Dallas Cowboys offensive line is going to have their hands full with the Rams front seven. LA's DL is full of former first-round picks, but it's Aaron Donald they really have to worry about the most. His ability to create havoc from the inside is almost uncanny. Add that to his tenacity and you have a recipe for dominance. Containing him would definitely go a long ways in securing the victory Saturday.

WR, Brandin Cooks

Brandin Cooks

Los Angeles Rams WR Brandin Cooks

LA Rams WR Brandin Cooks may be kind of the forgotten man in Saturday's Divisional Round game with the Dallas Cowboys, but that doesn't take away how dangerous he can be if not accounted for each and every play. It's one of the reasons why three different teams (Saints, Patriots, and Rams) have spent a first-round pick on him to acquire his services.

Brandin Cooks is exactly the kind of receiver who has given the Cowboys problems this season, much like Tyler Lockett did a week ago. Lockett was in my game wreckers article last week and for good reason. If not for his four receptions for 120 yards, Dallas probably would have ran away with the game. That's the same kind of ability Cooks possesses, except he's even better.

Cooks may not look like a prototypical #1 WR in the NFL, but his production would suggest otherwise. He caught 80 passes for 1,204 receiving yards and five touchdowns during the regular season. He also added 68 yards on the ground and a TD on just 10 attempts. The Cowboys defense will absolutely have to know where he's at each and every down if they want to have any chance at keeping him in check.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys can contain the Rams game wreckers?


Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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Game Notes

The Brady Report: Cowboys’ Fast Start Dooms Eagles

Kevin Brady

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The Brady Report: Cowboys' Fast Start Dooms Eagles

It's been nothing but doom and gloom around the Dallas Cowboys in recent weeks. After a 3-0 start propelled them towards the top of the league's elite, three straight disappointing losses had fans wondering if it was time for a regime change at head coach.

They went into Sunday night's game with the Eagles needing a win to salvage hope at earning a playoff spot, and boy did they answer the bell. The Cowboys dominated the Philadelphia Eagles from the opening snap, routing their hated rivals 37-10 and improving to 4-3 on the season.


Let's get into my game notes from this overwhelmingly positive performance.

  • Let's start with the quarterback. Dak Prescott was tremendous yet again on Sunday night, and we're getting to the point where his sample size of positive play is too large to ignore. Prescott was 21 of 27 for 239 yards and a touchdown (and an interception as well), but he also had a rushing touchdown to add to his totals. Prescott has complete control of the offense, and even checked out of a negative box count to exploit the Eagles blitz look down in the red zone. He leads the league in QBR this season, and he is the unquestioned franchise quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. As he should be.
  • Sticking with praise on offense, Ezekiel Elliott looked like Zeke on Sunday night. From his very first carry you could tell Elliott was running with a different burst and energy than we'd seen in recent weeks, and he later ran right over Malcolm Jenkins to set up the team's second score of the game. Elliott was impossible to bring down all night, to the tune of 111 yards and a touchdown on 5 yards per carry.
  • La'el Collins has been incredible this season, and Sunday was no different. The Cowboys recently extended right tackle shut Brandon Graham down for basically the entire night, and kept Prescott upright and comfortable in the pocket. Tyron Smith was clearly not healthy or himself on the other side, but the rest of this offensive line picked up the slack and had their best performance since the season opener.
  • Connor Williams deserves a shoutout as well. He was getting off double teams to the second level and cutting linebackers off to clear rushing lanes for Zeke all night long.
  • Defensively, the Cowboys had their best performance of 2019. They hadn't been able to force turnovers all season, but they came away with four in this week's win. Xavier Woods' interception of Wentz might've spoken the loudest, as it proved how good this defense can be when the game script is working in their favor. When things go according to plan early for this team, they have the talent to take total control and dominate.
  • Jourdan Lewis was inserted into the starting lineup due to injury, and he was awesome from the opening snap. Lewis came away with a big sack on Caron Wentz and had 4 tackles overall as well. Byron Jones returned from the injury he suffered a week ago, and was back to his old shutdown ways. Jones is clearly the best cornerback on this team, and is one of the better corners in all of football. When he's healthy and playing as he did during Sunday's win, few have an argument over him.
  • DeMarcus Lawrence also had his best game of 2019, creating consistent pressure on Wentz throughout the night. His biggest play, of course, was his sack fumble which set the Cowboys up for a 14-0 lead just two possessions into the game. Lawrence has been taking a lot of heat from the fanbase in recent weeks, but he responded in a big way on Sunday.
  • Those are the linebackers I remember from 2018. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch were all over the field during this game, and Sean Lee had a pretty nice game as well once Vander Esch went down. Lee and Smith each finished with 7 tackles, and Smith forced the Eagles' first fumble of the night on their opening drive. Lee made a nice play on the ball on a late fourth down throw that easily could've been an interception as well.


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Game Notes

Cowboys Defense Dominates in Crucial Win vs Eagles

Matthew Lenix

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Cowboys Defense Dominates in Crucial Win vs Eagles

Coming into yesterday's battle for NFC East supremacy against the Philadelphia Eagles the Dallas Cowboys defense was looking to regain some swagger. The Green Bay Packers were led by Aaron Jones who had a career day with 182 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns two weeks ago in a 34-24 beatdown of the Cowboys. Last week at Metlife Stadium, the New York Jets got a career day themselves from their former third overall pick in Sam Darnold who threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns in his return from Mononucleosis that kept him out since Week one. The Cowboys were handed their third consecutive loss 24-22 and their season was headed down the drain.

It would be paramount for the Cowboys defensive unit to set a tone and they didn't waste any time doing so. The Eagle's first possession would only last five plays as Jaylon Smith forced a fumble by Tight End Dallas Goedert that was recovered by Maliek Collins. Just two plays into their second drive, Carson Wentz was strip-sacked by All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence inside the Eagles own 15 which was recovered by Antwaun Woods. Both turnovers led to scores for the Cowboys as they took an early 14-0 lead in the games first six minutes.

After the Eagles scored on a seven-play 87-yard drive with a little over four minutes to go in the first quarter they would only run 12 plays the rest of the first half, and the Cowboys went into the locker room with a commanding 27-7 lead.

The second half would be a continuation of the first 30 minutes of play. After an exchange of field goals in the third quarter, the Eagles were simply out of their misery early in the fourth. Wentz was intercepted by Safety Xavier Woods and he committed his second fumble of the game on the very next drive. In the end, the Cowboys whipped the Eagles from start to finish 37-10 and claimed outright first place in the NFC East.


There were several encouraging signs defensively for the Cowboys vs the Eagles. Maliek Collins matched his season total with five tackles and also recovered a fumble. Both starting defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn each had a sack showing exactly why the Cowboys put this combo together, to terrorize quarterbacks. Cornerback Jourdan Lewis had four tackles and a sack, a great follow up to his four tackle performance with an interception a week earlier, further making his case to be the top guy at nickel corner in this defense. The old veteran Sean Lee didn't go unnoticed either as his seven tackles were tied for of the team lead. He got more snaps due to Leighton Vander Esch's early exit with a neck injury.

You expect an offense like the Eagles to make plays and score points eventually, but the Cowboys defense wasn't having any of it in this contest. In addition to giving up under 300 yards of total offense, they only allowed the Eagles to convert three third downs, go 0 for 2 in the red zone and forced four turnovers. That's a recipe for victory any Sunday.

Now, the Cowboys go into the bye week sitting on top the NFC East throne. This is the perfect time to get guys fully healthy with a clash against the New York Giants on the road awaiting them in two weeks. The Cowboys defense played with their backs to the wall and pulled out a big-time performance when they needed it the most. Consistency is what has kept them from looking like the top seven unit they were in 2018. Was this game the turning point? We shall see, but nonetheless, this showing by them was exactly what the doctor ordered.


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Game Notes

Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly From Week 7 Against the Eagles

Brian Martin

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Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly From Week 7 Against the Eagles

After three consecutive losses the Dallas Cowboys absolutely needed a good showing in Week 7 in a divisional game against the Philadelphia Eagles. To the surprise of probably everyone, including the Eagles, the Cowboys came out and pretty much dominated from the get-go and left with the victory.

The Dallas Cowboys now sit alone at the top of the NFC East division with the win over the Eagles. If they can hold down their current standing in the division it will not only earn them a playoff spot, but quite possibly let them have home-field advantage as well. It's a good place to sit, but not easily held onto.

Let's not beat around the bush any longer though, let's get to this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I hope you enjoy.

The Good

Blake Jarwin

Dallas Cowboys TE Blake Jarwin

There's no need to beat around the bush here. I think the good from Sunday night's game for the Dallas Cowboys was their ability to get out to a fast start against the Philadelphia Eagles. Starting games slowly this year was starting to become their identity as a team, so it was good to see the Cowboys defense get two quick turnovers and the offense turn those turnovers into points.

Getting off to a fast start is a trend I hope the Dallas Cowboys are able to continue from here on out. They've got a tough schedule ahead of them, so getting out ahead of their opponents early on could be the difference in a win or loss down the road. This is a team built to control the clock through the running game and a fast start would definitely allow them to do just that.


The Bad

In a game that pretty much everything went right for the Dallas Cowboys it wasn't that easy to decide what to go with in this category. That hasn't been the case the past three weeks, but what I decided to go with here is starting to become a reoccurring theme. I thought the bad from Sunday night's game for the Cowboys was all of the penalties.

The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most penalized teams in the NFL. If you've watched any of their games you shouldn't be that surprised. The refs love to let the laundry fly anytime the Cowboys take the field. More times than not Dallas is guilty, but there are also a lot of borderline calls as well. Regardless of where the fault lies the Cowboys absolutely need to clean up this area of their game.

The Ugly

Tyron Smith

Dallas Cowboys LT Tyron Smith

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I absolutely hate singling out a single person for just about any reason. But, having said that, to me Left Tackle Tyron Smith was the ugly Sunday night for the Dallas Cowboys. He just didn't look like himself. I'm sure he's not 100% and is playing through at least a couple lingering injuries, but he allowed too many pressures that he typically doesn't.

Luckily, the Cowboys are fixing to enter their bye week and that should give No. 77 a little extra time to recuperate. He is absolutely detrimental to the team's success moving forward. Dallas' OL is an entirely different unit with him on the field and the entire offense benefits when they have starting five available. He's still one of the best blindside protectors in the league, but injuries are becoming a concern.

What is your good, bad, and ugly from Week 7 for the Dallas Cowboys?


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