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3 Stars from the Dallas Cowboys Win Over the Detroit Lions

John Williams

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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.

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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, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Though it's still early in the 2018 season, the lead in the NFC East is up for grabs when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins meet this Sunday. Both teams would like their full roster available for the game, but the Week 7 injury reports indicate that won't be the case.

Here are the players either confirmed to be out of action tomorrow or are otherwise listed by Dallas and Washington:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - OUT
  • CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle) - Questionable

The Cowboys are getting healthier, with Sean Lee finally off the injury report and set to return to action. Not only will Dallas get their elite linebacker back, but it means a deeper rotation while the team remains without Joe Thomas.

Tavon Austin elected to skip season-ending surgery on his injured groin, but his should be out a few weeks. That will put Cole Beasley on punt returns and perhaps create more offensive opportunities for Deonte Thompson and Brice Butler.

Awuzie remains limited in practice but has played the last few weeks despite the ankle injury. There is no reason to think he won't suit up in Washington.

Washington Redskins

  • WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) - Doubtful
  • S Troy Apke (hamstring) - Doubtful
  • RB Adrian Peterson (ankle, shoulder) - Questionable
  • RB Chris Thompson (rib, knee) - Questionable
  • G Shawn Lauvao (calf) - Questionable
  • CB Quinton Dunbar (shin) - Questionable
  • CB Danny Johnson (forearm) - Questionable

It's a rough time for Washington's offensive weapons. They will definitely be without slot receiver Jamison Crowder and likely starter Paul Richardson, who current lead all WRs in receptions. Josh Doctson will put into a major role, as will veteran Brian Quick off the bench.

Peterson and Thompson both practiced this week and should play, but have nagging injuries that could slow them down. Washington is already missing Rob Kelley and rookie Derrius Guice, who are both on injured reserve.

Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao is also nursing a lower leg injury, but practiced in a limited capacity all week. His backup is undrafted rookie Casey Dunn out of Auburn.

In the defensive backfield, starting CB Quinton Dunbar was a Friday addition to the injury report with a shin injury. He did practice with it, though, so will likely play. Backup safety Troy Apke is doubtful with a hamstring issue.



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Game Notes

Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.

Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.

Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.

David Moore on Twitter

Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.

Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.

The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.

Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.

Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.

Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.

Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.

He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.

If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.

Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.

Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.

That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They're Given Credit For
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.

But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.

According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.

Brian Burke on Twitter

Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.

What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.

For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.

As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.

Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.

Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).

Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.



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