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Game Notes

3 Stars from the Dallas Cowboys Win Over the Detroit Lions

John Williams



3 Stars from the Dallas Cowboys Win Over the Detroit Lions

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.

Ezekiel Elliott

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.


Dak Prescott

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.


Brett Maher

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.

Honorable Mention

DeMarcus Lawrence

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.

David Helman on Twitter

Going back to the start of last season, DeMarcus Lawrence has 20 sacks in his last 20 games. #cowboyswire


✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

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?

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

1 Comment
  • Saul Molina

    Zeke play his but off day had a good day the defensive line play OK I thought Jaylon smith played good and as much as I thought I would never say this lve has been playing pretty good

Game Notes

Cowboys, Colts Week 15 Injury Report

Jess Haynie



Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?

The Dallas Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a win this week, while the Indianapolis Colts are fighting to stay alive in the AFC wild card race. Only one team can accomplish their goal, and both have some big names on the Week 15 injury report.

We'll begin with the visiting Cowboys, who could be getting at least one star player back while another is already confirmed to miss the game.

Dallas Cowboys

  • TE Geoff Swaim (wrist) - OUT
  • G Zack Martin (knee) - OUT
  • DL David Irving (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - Questionable
  • WR Lance Lenoir (illness) - Questionable
  • OT Tyron Smith (neck) - Questionable
  • DE Randy Gregory (personal) - Questionable
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - Questionable

Yes, sadly, Zack Martin will be out tomorrow. The good news is that Connor Williams got the entire week to practice with the starters at right guard. You can read much more about this situation and it's impact on the game here, courtesy of our own Sean Martin.

Also ruled out, as they have been for a while now, are TE Geoff Swaim and DL David Irving.  Swaim is still recovering from wrist surgery but has not been placed on injured reserve, so the team must feel he could be back for the playoffs. Irving could return as soon as next week.

Speaking of returns, Sean Lee may be back on the field this Sunday. It's unknown yet how he'll rotate with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, but Dallas has the luxury of working him in slowly thanks to the play of their young duo.

Tavon Austin could also return this week, creating another new offensive wrinkle. Austin has been injured since the Jacksonville game and has yet to play since the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper. Not only could Tavon do some interesting things in the offense, but he should bring some additional sizzle to special teams.

While appearing on the injury report, Randy Gregory missed practice this week for "family reasons" according to Jason Garrett. He could still play tomorrow.

Indianapolis Colts

  • G Mark Glowinski (ankle) - OUT
  • LB Skai Moore (neck) - OUT
  • S Mike Mitchell (calf) - OUT
  • WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle) - Questionable
  • TE Ryan Hewitt (ribs) - Questionable
  • S Clayton Geathers (knee) - Questionable

The big name here is Hilton, the star receiver who missed all practice this week with an ankle injury. Indianapolis has not ruled him out, wanting to give Andrew Luck's favorite target every opportunity to play. But it's not looking good, and a bad ankle could limit Hilton's effectiveness even if he goes.

Also hurt among the passing options is starting TE Ryan Hewitt, but he did practice full on Friday and should go. Not playing, however, is starting right guard Mark Glowinski. That means third-year player Evan Boehm should start, who just joined the team in October.

Indy's hurting at safety this week. Not only did starter Clayton Geathers miss the whole week of practice, but veteran backup Mike Mitchell is already ruled out. The Colts would have to rely on undrafted rookie George Odum if neither plays.

Fun fact before we go; former Cowboy Jihad Ward was picked up by the Colts after Dallas included him in their roster cuts to start the season. However, he landed on injured reserve back in October so won't get a chance at revenge.

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Game Notes

Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts

Sean Martin



Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts

The Dallas Cowboys offensive line depth will be tested as they play for a chance to clinch the NFC East on Sunday at the Indianapolis Colts. Suffering a knee injury last week against the Eagles, Right Guard Zack Martin will not be able to play. In missing his first career start, rookie Connor Williams rightfully returns to the starting lineup as Martin's replacement.

The 50th overall pick from this year's AT&T Stadium hosted Draft has started eight games this season at left guard. Williams' last start happens to be in the last game Dallas lost, a week nine defeat to the Tennessee Titans. This opened the door for Xavier Su'a-Filo to become something of a sensation for Cowboys Nation as the starting left guard throughout the team's current five game win streak.

David Moore on Twitter

Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin has been ruled out of Sunday's game with a sprained knee. Rookie Connor Williams will start in his place.

Zack Martin being unavailable is hardly how Marc Colombo wants to prepare for the Cowboys first road game since week 11. Having both Su'a-Filo and Williams in the lineup will be valuable for the Cowboys moving forward though, as Williams could earn his job at left guard back from the right side.

While he won't nearly be expected to play at the level of Martin, Williams looked poised coming off the bench against the Eagles and helping the Cowboys offense score their final three touchdowns. Williams was on the field for all three of Amari Cooper's scores, as Dallas rushed for 34 yards on 11 carries with him in the game.

Williams flashed some of the traits that made him a top left tackle prospect out of college, flowing to the second level with ease and creating movement with quick feet at the point of attack. The Cowboys have forced him to remain game ready despite losing his starting position by finding a few emergency snaps for him in recent weeks, as well as special teams looks. The team has every reason to believe Williams is an ascending young player still.

The same cannot be said of Su'a-Filo, who simply has to focus on continuing to hold up at left guard again this week. With each passing win, Su'a-Filo's LG spot has become more of a liability in a Cowboys offense in need of a jump-start late in this 2018 season.

Consistent offensive line play is one of the few things that's clearly hurting the Cowboys as contenders in the NFC behind a stellar defense and game breaking wide receiver.

The Cowboys won't be at full strength against the eighth best rushing defense and 15th ranked passing defense in yards per game. With three separate chances to clinch the NFC East starting at the Colts and extending until the end of the regular season, the Cowboys stand to learn all they need to know about the offensive line that will start in the playoffs.

Martin, who's elevated his game to a new level this season despite this lingering knee injury, should be on track to return when the Cowboys come home to play the Buccaneers in week 16.

Tell us what you think about "Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Game Notes

#INDvsDAL: How The Game May Be Decided In The Red Zone

Kevin Brady



Fantasy Football - Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - Week 2 2
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In many ways the Dallas Cowboys offense has found their stride in recent weeks. Over this five game win streak they have "found their identity" playing ball control offense and trusting their quarterback to make big throws when needed most. Of course the defense has been the star most weeks, but this offense should not be slept on either.

This doesn't mean the offense has been without their fair share of struggles, however, particularly in the red zone. Struggles that the numbers say could cost the Cowboys this weeks' game in Indianapolis if they don't get it cleaned up.

In terms of red zone offensive efficiency the Cowboys have been downright horrendous. In fact, they are dead-last in the league in success rate inside the 10 yard line, last in first-and-goal success rate, and 21st in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

There's no sugar-coating those numbers, they are bad. Especially when you consider that this team has arguably the league's best running back and a quarterback with the size and athleticism you might expect from a linebacker.

For as bad as the Cowboys are inside the red zone, the Colts are equally as good. Indianapolis is top 10 in terms of success rate inside the 10, at the goal line, and in first-and-goal success rate. They are also 11th in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

Despite not having the individual running back the Cowboys have, the Colts offensive line and skill players as a whole set them up a bit better when the field is shortened. Tight end Eric Ebron has been rather incredible in terms of production this season, catching 12 touchdowns on 58 receptions. Andrew Luck is also a more accurate quarterback than Dak Prescott, though Prescott should be a much more dangerous red zone threat than he currently is.

Bob Sturm on Twitter

I am working on the Cowboys 32nd ranked Goal-to-Go offensive numbers. They have run 35 of their 59 total plays out of Shotgun-11 Personnel. In those 35 plays, the average gain per snap is....12 INCHES. I am not kidding. They could out-gain that by running QB sneaks. I am amazed.

Of course, some of the Cowboys red zone struggles can be pinned on offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Linehan has failed to scheme open the "easy" red zone touchdowns we see so often around the league. As pointed out by Bob Sturm on Twitter this week, the Cowboys' personnel groupings and play calls when in goal-to-go situations have been questionable to say the least. But while blame does fall on the coaches' shoulders, the players need to execute better as well.

Games in the NFL often come down to just a handful of plays, and red zone efficiency plays a key role in deciding the outcome of close games every week. If this is once again the case on Sunday, based on past performance, the Dallas Cowboys could be in trouble against the efficient Colts.

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