Well that was something!
The Dallas Cowboys clawed their way to their first victory of the season on Sunday, inching by the Atlanta Falcons 40-39. The Cowboys dug themselves a massive hole in the first half, fumbling the ball on seemingly every possession and allowing the Falcons to take an early 20-0 lead.
Luckily, Dallas fought all the way back to save their season from an 0-2 start. Let’s get into my game notes.
- As usual let’s start with this quarterback. After one of the worst offensive starts in team history, Dak Prescott put the team on his back. Prescott finished with 450 yards passing, four total touchdowns, and no interceptions. He made big throw after big throw to keep the Cowboys alive while their defense was exhausted in the second half. When the game script forced the Cowboys into passing situations, Kellen Moore opened up the offense and Prescott responded in a big way. Dallas needs to lean on Prescott and this passing game in neutral game situations going forward, or else they may find themselves playing from behind on a weekly basis.
- This was the type of game we all envisioned when the Cowboys drafted CeeDee Lamb back in April. Each of their big three wide outs – Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup – made massive plays in the second half of this win. Lamb and Cooper both went for 100 yards, and while Gallup’s raw numbers are lagging behind, he still made possibly the single biggest catch of the game on the team’s final touchdown drive. Each of these guys brings a bit of a different flavor, and I love how Prescott involved all three on Sunday.
- Speaking of spreading the ball around, how about tight end Dalton Schultz? I’ll be honest, I was sort of dreading the Schultz start. I was hoping the Cowboys would go more 4 WR or 2 RB sets, using Noah Brown and Tony Pollard instead of a true tight end. But boy was I wrong. Schultz had a massive day over the middle of the field, going for 88 yards and a touchdown on 9 catches. That touchdown showed incredible trust in Schultz from Prescott, as he fit that in a tight window to the young tight end.
- The 2 most important plays that no one will remember? First off, Julio Jones’ drop in the end zone likely ends the game right there. Then the Falcons followed it up with a 12 men on the field penalty, forcing them to punt the ball back to the hot Cowboys offense. The second big play was Everson Griffen’s first sack as a Cowboy, backing the Falcons up and forcing a massive punt when the team was still down 9 points.
- Let’s give some love to Joe Thomas this week. Thomas was second on the team in tackles Sunday, and seemed to outplay Jaylon Smith. With both Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee out, Thomas will need to play to this level week in and week out.
- Mike McCarthy is catching a lot of heat for his coaching decisions, so let’s break them down very quickly. The first fake punt? I’m fine with it. Down 17-0 and the game was slipping away, the team needed a spark. The second fake punt? You should just go for that with your offense, there’s no element of surprise with a fake there. Let your quarterback go win or lose the game. And the two point conversion: this was the right call. You go for two with your first score so you know what is needed the rest of the way.
- The Cowboys go to Seattle next week to face the undefeated Seahawks, in a battle of quarterbacks who have been fighting against their own play calling much of their careers. Seattle has taken the handcuffs off of Russell Wilson the first two weeks, let’s hope Prescott opened Kellen Moore’s eyes on Sunday.