The Dallas Cowboys had the offensive performance that Cowboys Nation had missed for several football months spanning from the end of 2017 to the first few weeks of the 2018 NFL season. Dak Prescott and the passing game got on track and Ezekiel Elliott finally looked like the star running back -- and best player on the offense -- in a really nice bounce back game for the entire roster.
It was a game that came down to the wire and the Dallas Cowboys needed to play a full 60-minute game to come away with the win. More than a few players made their presence felt on Sunday, but only three came be named week four's 3 Stars.
The Dallas Cowboys needed a big game from Ezekiel Elliott against the NFL's worst rushing defense. Boy did he deliver.
Elliott finished the day with 25 carries for 152 yards, had four catches for 88 yards on four targets, including a touchdown reception on a huge catch and run on a screen that brought the Dallas Cowboys offense to life.
His 38 yard catch on the game-winning drive set up Brett Maher's field goal that gave the Dallas Cowboys the 26-24 win was as big a play as he's made with a star on his helmet.
Ezekiel Elliott is the first player this season to eclipse 200 yards from scrimmage in a game. It's the third time in his career that he's gone over 200 total yards. For the Dallas Cowboys to get where they need to go, Elliott's going to have to be the focus of the offense's game plan and take advantage of these opportunities.
The criticism has run wild for Dak Prescott for the previous 11 games of his career. What he did on Sunday against the Detroit Lions should put an end to a lot of the questions -- but it won't -- that have surfaced since the end of the 2017 season.
Prescott looked way more confident and was throwing the ball deep with amazing accuracy and touch. He was more aggressive than we've seen at any time this year. Not counting the screen game, Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys passing attack hit three passes for more than 30 yards in the game.
They would have had one more had Tavon Austin been able to come up with a difficult catch that Dak put on the money in the end zone. It was a catchable ball, though the coverage was really good.
Despite the Austin drop, and a few others, Prescott was more of the player that we saw in the first 24 games of his career than he's been in the 11 games before Sunday. On the Day, Prescott was 17/27 (62.9% completion percentage) for 255 yards and two touchdowns.
The Dallas Cowboys need more of that Dak.
It's not often that you're going to see me feature a kicker in this space, but Brett Maher certainly deserves it. When you go 4/4 on your field goal attempts, hit both of your extra points, and nail the game-winning kick in your fourth NFL game, you deserve to get recognized.
Brett Maher accounted for more than half of the team's 26 points in the win over the Detroit Lions.
Since the end of the preseason, the questions that have surrounded the Dallas Cowboys' release of Dan Bailey have been non-stop. Those questions have been answered with a statement performance by the former Canadian Football Leaguer.
It seems impossible that DeMarcus Lawrence would not be in the 3 Stars, but these are the games we've come to expect from Lawrence.
On a day when the Dallas Cowboys' defense was struggling to slow down the Detroit Lions passing game, DeMarcus Lawrence came up big in leading the team in tackles and recording three sacks. Lawrence now has 5.5 sacks in the first four games of this season and he's now on pace for 22 sacks in 2018.
David Helman from Dallas Cowboys had a great stat on DeMarcus Lawrence's sack total growth.
Going back to the start of last season, DeMarcus Lawrence has 20 sacks in his last 20 games. #cowboyswire
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The Dallas Cowboys evened their record at 2-2 on Sunday with huge performances from several key players.
Who were your 3 Stars from Sunday's 26-24 win?
Taco Charlton Isn’t Going Anywhere After Strong Preseason Week 3
Dallas Cowboys Defensive End Taco Charlton might be turning things around. The former first round draft pick didn't have a great couple of seasons to start his career off, which forced him to be in a battle to earn a spot on the Cowboys 53-man roster this offseason. Three weeks into the preseason, it looks like he's a lock to make the team. In a "Dress Rehearsal" game that went great for the Cowboys, Charlton's performance was among the best players.
A couple of weeks ago, I discussed how the Cowboys' younger defensive ends could force the team to move on from Taco. From Dorance Armstrong to Jalen Jelks, there's a handful of promising players that were participating in a positional battle that one way or another, included Taco Charlton.
However, the Michigan product showed up to play versus the Los Angeles Rams with two passes batted down. Despite making such plays, we still hadn't seen much from him in the pass rush department.
That changed against the Houston Texans last Saturday when he managed to get two sacks (one strip-sack), two forced fumbles and a recovery. This was undoubtedly Taco's best game in his career. He still has a lot to prove, but it was definitely good to see him have a "breakout" preseason game.
With such performance, it doesn't seem like he'll be going anywhere in 2019. Charlton won't be a starter for this team, but he could become a very important rotational piece for Rod Marinelli's defense. He has a great opportunity to find playing time during the first two weeks of the season before Robert Quinn returns from suspension.
One unfortunate note was that in his best game yet, Taco went out injured twice (ankle). The first time he went back to the field to get some more but had to walk off the field for a second time. Hopefully, he's able to play next Thursday but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't after having a breakout game versus the Texans.
Taco Charlton still has a very long way to justify being a first-round pick, but his play against Houston was a start. It will be very interesting to see how he plays in the 2019 regular season. He'll have to fight for playing time and he'll have to make every snap count to turn his career around.
HOU 0, DAL 34: Defense Dominates in Dress Rehearsal Game
The Dallas Cowboys couldn't have scripted a better result in tonight's dress rehearsal game against the Houston Texans. All three phases of the game made big plays as they dominated 34 to 0.
The night belonged to the defense as they terrorized Houston's starters and reserves along the offensive line with 8 sacks. Taco Charlton, a former first-round pick turned outcast was the star of the night with 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. In my opinion, if there were any doubts about him making the roster he put them to bed tonight.
Kerry Hyder showed once again why he's one of the smartest free-agent signings of 2019. After being a lost man in the 3-4 defensive scheme with his former team the Lions, he's done a really good job applying pressure even though he hadn't recorded any sacks in the first two preseason games. However, tonight he recorded 2 sacks and reminded everyone of the player who had 8 sacks in 2016.
The young guys weren't to be left out in this defensive clinic. Dorance Armstrong, Trysten Hill, Daniel Wise, and Joe Jackson all had half sacks. Rookie Safety Donovan Wilson had one of the plays of the night with a beautiful interception as he tapped both feet before heading out of bounds. Cornerback C.J. Goodwin, who will probably make the roster on his special teams ability, got in on the interception party himself high pointing a contested pass.
Dak Prescott was only 2 for 5 (11 for 14 in the preseason) but managed to escape what looked like a sure sack and roll to his left and threw a rope to Michael Gallup for a touchdown. The two have shown a lot of growth and chemistry during training camp, something that was missing at times in 2018.
Wide Receiver Devin Smith had 6 receptions for 79 yards while Cedrick Wilson snagged 3 passes on 4 targets. Both receivers are fighting for the final roster spots in the receiver group which they'll have to continue to do next week against the Buccaneers.
Tight End Marcus Lucas had a very solid game with 4 catches for 50 yards. He will definitely be a player to watch in the final preseason game before final cuts are made. Cooper Rush went 15 for 25 and further solidified his position as the primary backup to Prescott. Mike White was also solid going 6 for 9 and tossing a touchdown.
Special teams got in on the action themselves when Linebacker Joe Thomas recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown.
Now the Cowboys have only one more preseason game before the 2019 season begins. All that's left now is figuring out the last few roster spots and staying as healthy as possible. September 8th is right around the corner.
Cowboys Wishlist: Dress Rehearsal Edition
In the NFL, the third preseason week is often referred to as the "Dress Rehearsal." It's usually the week in which starters get the most playing time. That has changed lately, with plenty of teams deciding to take care of their key players instead of risking them on the field. However, the Dallas Cowboys have played their starters on their first two games and there's no reason to believe that will change versus the Texans today.
Here is my wishlist for the Cowboys vs Texans "Dress Rehearsal!" Let me know what your wishes for tonight's game are in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!
Wish #1: Justin Phillips Locks Up a Roster Spot
Phillips has been one of the most surprising players this offseason and preseason. The Cowboys are set at linebacker, but Phillips has made sure to be a tough guy to cut. Last week, he had a remarkable interception against the Rams. Despite making a first step toward the line, he managed to adjust and made the play. He has followed it up with more plays in practice.
If he keeps it up, the Cowboys won't be able to cut him. He has the potential to be a force on special teams and a quality backup.
Wish #2: Devin Smith Makes Things Interesting
The battle for the final wide receiver spots is at full-go. Devin Smith has shined lately, and has risen as a serious candidate to make the roster. However, it seems like other wide receivers have the upper-hand as of now. Earlier this week, I made my Cowboys WR Power Rankings and had Devin Smith at #7.
His TD catch versus the Rams last week was pretty impressive, and I wish he makes a few more plays to make the debate all the more interesting.
Wish #3: Tony Pollard Does It Again
Fifth-round rookie Tony Pollard
stole was the show last weekend as he racked up 51 total yards (five carries, one catch) and a touchdown on Dallas' first offensive drive. He looked impressive as the starting running back, giving us just what we wanted to see.
While many have advertised him as a gadget player, Pollard proved he can actually be a "standard" RB. He ran between the tackles, showed power, balance and great vision. I'm ready to watch it again, this time versus the Texans.
Wish #4: Taco Charlton Shines Rushing The Passer
Taco Charlton has made a couple of plays in preseason on his third year with the Dallas Cowboys. Against the Rams, he batted down two passes and looked good separating from opposing offensive linemen. Charlton has gotten praise from some analysts during these first two preseason weeks.
But I want to watch some quality pass rush from his part. Right now, the Cowboys' roster counts with some promising players, including rookies Jalen Jelks and Joe Jackson. While they're currently below Taco, he must prove he belongs on the roster.
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