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Game Notes

Cowboys vs. Eagles: Sunday Preview



With one rival vanquished for the time being, the Dallas Cowboys seek to take down another this Sunday, as they take on the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field (1:00 EST, FOX). The game signals the start of a traveling stretch for the Cowboys, who will play four of their next five games on the road.Unknown

The Cowboys' rivalry with the Eagles is a long and storied one, with the Cowboys holding a 60-47 edge (including playoffs) on their rivals from the City of Brotherly Love. It wasn't so sunny in Philadelphia the last time the Cowboys came to visit, as they took down their green adversaries 38-23 at the stadium known as "The Linc". Although the Cowboys fell behind 17-10 late in the 3rd quarter, they took control of the game via a four minute stretch that spanned the 3rd and 4th quarters. On the final play of the 3rd, Tony Romo found Dez Bryant on a 30 yard strike to tie the game. After a Philadelphia three-and-out, Dwayne Harris, last week's NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, gave the Cowboys a lead they'd never give back on a 78 yard punt return to the end zone, the first of his career. On the next possession, CB Brandon Carr scored a 47 yard pick six. The Cowboys would go on to win the game 38-23, out scoring the Eagles 28-6 over the game final 16 minutes. The rematch in Dallas was a back and forth Sunday night affair, taken by the Cowboys 38-33. Dallas had actually trailed most of the game, falling behind 14-3 midway through the 2nd on two short touchdown runs by then-rookie Eagles RB Bryce Brown. By the time the 4th quarter rolled around, the Cowboys still trailed 24-17, but once again took over the game in the game's final act. Romo's 27 yard strike to Miles Austin tied the game, and another Romo touchdown pass, this one to Bryant from 6 yards out, gave the Cowboys the lead for good. CB Morris Claiborne took a Brown fumble 50 yards for another score, one that proved to be important when Eagles PR Damaris Johnson took a Brian Moorman punt 98 yards for a score. Dallas recovered the subsequent onside kick to escape with the win. Romo's three touchdown passes allowed him to pass Troy Aikman for most touchdown passes in franchise history.

This season, Dallas faces a Philadelphia team that's vastly different from it's previous incarnation. Surely you've heard of new head coach Chip Kelly's offense, called "revolutionary" one week and a "failed experiment" the next. The Eagles began the season 1-3, but have used a couple of no-win teams (the Giants and Buccaneers) to their advantage. Despite their dreadful strength of schedule (their other win came against the one-win Redskins), the Eagles do seem like legitimate contenders. The Eagles lead the NFL in rushing yards at 178.5 per game, headlined by RB LeSean McCoy. McCoy has already tallied 630 yards on the season (tops in the league), including 116 yards on Tampa Bay last week, his 3rd 100 yard game of the season. The Cowboys rushing game has been hit or miss this season. For every performance the rush defense has had against Jamaal Charles (16 carries, 55 yards) and Alfred Morris (15 carries, 36 yards, not including a 45 yards TD run), they'll have a no show against guys like Danny Woodhead (86 total yards, 2 TD's) and Knowshon Moreno (150 total yards, 1 TD). They'll have to another standout game the defense to stop McCoy, a task all the more difficult with DeMarcus Ware possibly out (originally projected to miss 3-4 weeks with a quad injury, Ware revealed this week he'll be a game time decision). Plenty of names stepped it up on defense for the Cowboys last Sunday night, namely DL Kyle Wilber, who had a key sack and fumble recovery deep in Washington territory, and Orlando Scandrick, who intercepted a pass in the Dallas end zone.

While Michael Vick (hamstring) will not play on Sunday, let's face it, QB Nick Foles, who will face the Cowboys for the third time in his young career,  isn't that bad. In the first meeting, Foles, seeing his first ever NFL action after Vick went down with an injury, threw the key interception to Carr, but had a solid performance (22-32, 219 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). He was even better in the second meeting, going 22-34 for 251 yards and 1 TD in his third career start. He's also coming off probably the best game of his career against Tampa Bay, going 22-31 for 296 yards with 3 TD's (good for a career high 133.3 rating). He also has yet to throw an interception this season, so it's imperative that the secondary cause some turnovers. The defense looked spotty against Washington (allowing 433 yards), but there was a key difference between the Denver loss and the Washington win. Whereas in the Broncos game they failed to force Denver into punting even once, the Cowboys forced Redskins P Sav Rocca to send it off three times. With a returner like Dwayne Harris, that's extremely important. In addition, when the Redskins did get into Cowboys territory, they were mainly forced into Kai Forbath field goals rather than Robert Griffin touchdowns.

With the obvious exception of his historical performance against the Broncos, Romo has been held to a conservative approach so far this season. It's been mostly successful for the most part, as Romo's turnovers have seen a dramatic decline, but the loss of DeMarco Murray, ruled doubtful with an knee injury, means that Romo will have to put the team on his back this week. If Murray misses the game, the remaining options aren't pretty. Rookie Joseph Randle had a touchdown last week, but other than that was very unimpressive (11 carries, 17 yards), while Phillip Tanner wasn't exactly eye-catching when Murray got hurt last year (25 carries, 61 yards in 2012). Romo has played some of the most important games of his career against Philadelphia, and the results are polarizing. Sometimes he'll look amazing (23-35, 244 yards, 2 TD's in the 2010 NFC Wild Card game, a 34-14 win), and other times he'll look dreadful (21-39, 183 yards, 0 TD's, 1 INT, in a 44-6 season ending loss that cost the Cowboys a playoff spot). Obviously, with Murray out, Romo will be called upon for increased production in a game, despite being played before Halloween, that could have major playoff implications.

Obviously, any win over the Eagles is a big win. But a win here would be huge for the 2013 Cowboys. If the Cowboys seek to return to the playoffs since that magical three game sweep against the Eagles in 2009-10, they're going to need more wins. Since that mini-playoff run, the Cowboys have had difficulty stringing together consistent winning streaks, indicated by their twin 8-8 records over the past two seasons. As I mentioned last week, moral victories are fine and all, but the NFL doesn't count those toward making the playoffs. Philadelphia's increasingly soft schedule (a trip to Oakland follows a rematch with the Giants next week) only increases the need to beat the Eagles now. With the state of both defenses, (Philadelphia allows even more yards per game than the Cowboys) this game will likely end up being a shootout. And if that happens, I'm going to trust Tony Romo over Nick Foles right now, thank you very much.Cowboys-vs-Eagles

Prediction: Cowboys 41, Eagles 37

Game Notes

Ezekiel Elliott’s Excellence Elevates Cowboys in Road Win

John Williams



Cowboys en Español: El Reto VS Texans, Porque Bryant No Volverá

For the first time this season the Dallas Cowboys have won back to back games moving to 5-5 on the year with a 22-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons in a game that they had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The defense was the story for most of the game, forcing the Atlanta Falcons to kick four field goals before allowing the game-tying touchdown with less than two minutes to play. The offense had trouble getting going until they leaned heavily on their star running back, Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott, who went over the 200 total yard mark for the second time this season and the fourth time in his career was dominant in the second half, getting hard-fought yards en route to his fifth 100 yard game of the season.

Elliott averaged 5.3 yards per carry, on 23 carries, but was also the leading receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. Ezekiel Elliott on the day caught seven passes on eight targets for 79 yards as well.

The Cowboys first touchdown drive was reminiscent of who the Dallas Cowboys were in 2016. That season, and seemingly rarely since, the Cowboys would go on these long 10-15 play drives in the second half of games and take control of the game.

On Sunday in Atlanta, they did it again.

Trailing 6-3 in the second half with the defense playing an excellent game, the Cowboys went on a 14 play drive for 75 yards that took nearly eight minutes off the clock. It was a huge drive to give the Cowboys a lead and to give their defense a much deserved rest.

On that drive, Ezekiel Elliott saw the ball seven times and set the tone picking up several first downs that helped set up Dak Prescott's four yard touchdown run that took the lead. After Leighton Vander Esch's interception on the ensuing drive, Elliott once again made a huge impact taking the ball twice for 31 yards including the 28 yard touchdown run that put the Cowboys up 19-9 with a little more than 12 minutes to play in the game. And on the final drive of the game, Ezekiel Elliott caught a pass and picked up a first down just inside Falcons territory.

Over the last two weeks, you can see a big difference in the effectiveness of the run game. Elliott spoke about Amari Cooper being one reason they've had more success in the run game.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Ezekiel Elliott on Amari Cooper: "It's just one more guy they have to worry about. It seems like he kind of was the missing piece, just because when he got here this offense started rolling. It's great having him. He's a phenomenal player. He's going to have a great future here.

Amari Cooper's presence is a big reason for the offense and you can tell they've been a more complete offense the last two weeks. The addition of Cooper puts more stress on a defense in the passing game. Like Elliott said, he's a player that has to be accounted for, making his and the offensive line's jobs easier.

The play of the offensive line has also been really good the last two weeks since Marc Colombo took over as offensive line coach and coincidentally Xavier Su'a-Filo was inserted into the starting lineup for an injured Connor Williams.

Whatever the reason, Ezekiel Elliott seems to be on an upward trajectory.

Ezekiel Elliott is now averaging 129.4 total yards per game, which sits right at his career average heading into the 2018 season. He's on pace for 1,524 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 545 receiving yards, and 3 receiving touchdowns. The touchdown totals are down from his career pace, but he's still on pace for 2,000 total yards this season. If the last two weeks are any indications, that pace could see a huge bump in the second half of the season.

NFL Research on Twitter

Since entering the NFL, Ezekiel Elliott has: * 17 games with 100+ rush yards * 24 games with 100+ scrimmage yards * 4 games with 200+ scrimmage yards * 3,567 rush yards The one similarity between these numbers? Elliott leads the NFL in each since 2016 #Cowboys

If you needed a singular note to tell you how great Elliott's been for the Dallas Cowboys, that's the one. It's amazing that Elliott leads the league in all of those categories including rushing yards considering he sat out six games last season and had a game where he rushed for only eight yards against the Denver Broncos in week two of 2017.

And then there’s this one.

NFL345 on Twitter

@dallascowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott had 201 scrimmage yards and a TD in the team's Week 11 victory. Elliott (4,540 scrimmage yards & 32 TDs) became the third player in @NFL history with 4,500+ scrimmage yards & 30+ TDs in their first 35 career games.

The two other players to accomplish that feat were Eric Dickerson and Edgerin James. That’s some legendary company.

Ezekiel Elliott is a big-time player for the Dallas Cowboys and someone who they can lean on the rest of the season. If the Cowboys are going to make the playoffs it will be because the run game continued to play at a high level, which opened everything else up for the offense. While many people will tell you that running backs don't matter, Ezekiel Elliott certainly proved on Sunday that he matters.

And if you watch opposing defenses on Sunday's, they act like Elliott matters. Like Sunday, Ezekiel Elliott will continue to be a threat each week and big things are coming for him and the Dallas Cowboys.

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Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Atlanta

Brian Martin



The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Atlanta

It may not have been very pretty, but the Dallas Cowboys were able to keep their playoff hopes alive by defeating the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Sunday afternoon. It's a place that wasn't kind to them a season ago, but they were able to overcome their demons and secure a much-needed victory.

This is a game that ended up being a lot closer than it probably needed to be. Missed opportunities and mental mistakes once again plagued this Cowboys team, but they continued to scratch and claw their way in a hostile environment to put another "W" in the win column.

With the game still fresh in our minds, I thought it would be a good time to share with you what I believed was The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys yesterday against the Atlanta Falcons. As always, please feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions in the comment section located at the end of the article.

The Good

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

It should come to no surprise after the way he's played these last couple weeks, but I decided to go with Running Back Ezekiel Elliott for the good this week for the Dallas Cowboys. I could have easily gone with Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch because he was definitely deserving as well, but for me Zeke edged him out by a narrow margin.

Ezekiel Elliott put the team on his back Sunday afternoon and led them to a victory, just like he did a week ago against the Philadelphia Eagles. He pretty much was the Cowboys offense yesterday, accounting for more than 200 total yards by himself. He not only finished the game as the leading rusher with 122 yards on the ground and a touchdown, but the leading receiver as well with seven catches for 79 yards.

Zeke has been absolutely dominating here recently and hopefully he can keep it up with the division rival Washington Redskins coming to town on Thanksgiving. It's a game that will likely determine the outcome of the NFC East division.

The Bad

Brett Maher

Dallas Cowboys K Brett Maher

He may have made the game-winning field goal, but Kicker Brett Maher's inconsistency here lately is the bad this week for the Dallas Cowboys in my opinion. His missed extra point attempt against the Falcons came very close to costing them the victory, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see a few kickers brought in Monday on a tryout basis.

Over the past several years we've kind of been spoiled by having Dan Bailey, one of the most accurate kickers to ever play the game. I believe the Cowboys made the right decision to move on from Bailey earlier this year, especially after seeing the way he's struggled with inconsistency himself in Minnesota. But, Maher's recent struggles is starting to become more and more of a concern.

We've seen too many instances this season where a missed or made field-goal impacts the outcome of the game one way or another. This week they were fortunate enough to come out on top, but just imagine how the NFC division race would look if Maher would've made the one in Washington instead of clanking it on the upright.

The Ugly

Chidobe Awuzie

Dallas Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie

I could've easily went with the penalties or mental mistakes in this section this week for the Dallas Cowboys, but I ultimately decided the ugly against the Falcons was Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie being victimized once again. Opposing quarterbacks continue to throw his direction and unfortunately they're finding quite a bit of success.

I hear a lot of fans around Cowboys Nation wanting to see Jourdan Lewis get a shot at starting on the outside over Awuzie, but I don't think that's the right move at this time. I still think Awuzie is playing at a high level, but unfortunately he's just been the victim of some really good catches by receivers he's covering at the time.

Both this week against the Falcons and last week against the Eagles we saw Awuzie with tight coverage on Julio Jones and Alshon Jeffrey, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to prevent the completion from happening. That's just been the way things have gone for him this season. If he can learn to get his head around and locate the ball, he would find much more success and not be targeted as much.

What is your Good, Bad, and Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Falcons?

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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Leverage Defense to Reach .500 Against Falcons

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: Cowboys Leverage Defense to Reach .500 Against Falcons

The Dallas Cowboys are returning home for Thanksgiving with a 5-5 record, needing to earn road wins at Philadelphia and Atlanta in the last two weeks to do so. Sunday's revenge win at the Falcons did not come easy, as the Cowboys conceded their first touchdown in the final two minutes of regulation to tie the game.

Missed opportunities in the red zone and penalties all had a say in the Cowboys needing a walk off Brett Maher field goal to win. Running Back Ezekiel Elliott once again sparked the offense in the second half, as the Cowboys defense assured this game wouldn't be a shootout in the first 30 minutes.

Here are my observations on the Cowboys latest thrilling win, greatly increasing their chances at reclaiming the top spot in the NFC East considering the Redskins home loss to the Texans.

  • A great down-the-line play from rookie Dorance Armstrong on the Falcons' opening possession to set up DeMarcus Lawrence's first sack.

The Cowboys came into this game thin across the defensive line. Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins and Defensive End Dorance Armstrong really took advantage of the opportunity, pushing the pocket against Matt Ryan and freeing up the Cowboys linebackers to be themselves.

Lawrence's sack was the play that got the Cowboys off the field on third down, but Armstrong meeting Ito Smith in the hole for no gain was as big of a play on second down. The Falcons were smart to test the interior of the Cowboys defense and use the power run to set up their vertical passing game, but Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard simply had their guys ready to play.

If Collins and Armstrong can sustain their high-energy level of play with Antwaun Woods and Daniel Ross working their way back into the Cowboys rotation at DT, this defense can reach a new level of play given their speed in the back seven and ability to give opposing offensive lines fits with just four up front.

  • Cole Beasley did more than enough to make up for it, but his drop in the end zone on the Cowboys first scoring drive is one he'll want back for a while.

The Cowboys play calling on their first goal-to-go situation left a lot to be desired, but Beasley was still able to make a scoring play with the ball in his hands at the pylon. Beasley bobbled the ball going to the ground and couldn't come up with it.

On the next play, the Cowboys finally targeted Amari Cooper, although without Ezekiel Elliott on the field. It was the combination of Cooper on the outside and Elliott in the backfield that provided a boost to the Cowboys offense last week at the Eagles, and for whatever reason they went away from it consistently against the Falcons.

Beasley's 19 yard catch and run on the Cowboys final drive set them up to run Elliott and kick the game winning field goal, giving Prescott an easy target on a crossing route. These are the types of inconsistencies the Cowboys will have to happily live with as they review this win and prepare on a short week for the Redskins.

  • Head Coach Jason Garrett should be questioned about how his offense handled the last drive of the first half.

Trailing by three in a game still looking for its first touchdown, the Cowboys came out firing with 29 seconds left in the first half before shutting the drive down themselves. After Elliott advanced the ball to the Cowboys 35 and prompted a timeout, his catch and run for eight yards was the final play of the half.

I have no problem with the Cowboys getting the ball safely into the hands of Elliott, but after gaining positive yards on two receptions it's inexcusable to sit on a timeout without attempting a pass to the end zone.

  • The Cowboys play calling improved in the second half, evident on Dak Prescott's rushing touchdown to give the Cowboys a 12-9 lead.

Again, taking the good with the bad, the Cowboys did go to this zone read look one too many times in the second half. From four yards out against a defense playing without one of their most talented players in Linebacker Deion Jones, Prescott faking to Elliott and keeping himself is as smart and safe a play as Linehan could have called.

Prescott's score was followed by Leighton Vander Esch's second interception in as many weeks, allowing the Cowboys to go right back to hammering the football. It took just two carries for Elliott to cover 31 yards and put the Cowboys ahead 19-9 off the turnover.

His 23-yard touchdown was sprung by Right Guard Zack Martin, who deserves a ton of credit for not only dealing with an injury sustained last week but seemingly finding an even higher level of play since then to motivate his teammates.

Joe Looney filled in well for Travis Frederick once again, and Xavier Su'a-Filo replaced a now-healthy Connor Williams for the second straight game, making Martin's elite level of play much more important.

Martin's lone mistake in this game came at a costly moment though, as a false start penalty backed the Cowboys up before punting it back to the Falcons for the tying score. Although the penalty created a third and 13 that Dallas used to keep the clock running on a dump off to Elliott, their second down play call to go with another zone read was costly as well.

Prescott lost two yards on a play that didn't fool the Falcons in the slightest, creating the original third and eight situation.

  • Chidobe Awuzie was actually in good position on Julio Jones' fourth quarter TD, but as has been the case all season he reacted late and was beat with the ball.

Awuzie ran stride for stride with Jones, doing his best to force the Falcons best receiver towards the sideline. To Jones' credit, he was able to stay true to his route and run under a perfect pass from Matt Ryan.

Awuzie's fate was sealed on the play when he failed to react in time to jump with Jones, who simply elevated over the Cowboys struggling cornerback to give the Falcons new life in this game. Awuzie has been given every opportunity to be the Cowboys starter across from Byron Jones, trusted by Kris Richard to be a valuable part of this defense.

Quarterbacks in need of a completion have been able to pick on Awuzie far too much this season. The Cowboys don't appear to be in any rush to change this, as Cornerback Jourdan Lewis is designated to handling jet sweeps for the Cowboys offense while Anthony Brown remains the starter in the slot.

It was Brown that struggled through all of 2017 before finding his form again this year, perhaps giving Awuzie some hope that he can respond sooner rather than later.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The early slate of games proved to be a massive one for NFC East implications. The Cowboys escaped Atlanta with a win, and minutes later the Texans put the finishing touches on a win at the Redskins. Much earlier in the afternoon, unbeknownst to the Cowboys fighting for their life at the time, the Redskins also lost Quarterback Alex Smith.

Smith broke his tibia on a hit from J.J. Watt, and will need season ending surgery according to his Head Coach Jay Gruden.

This division has been waiting for a team to seize control of it all season. Realizing this, the Cowboys didn't sulk through their poor start and made the right moves to play into contention - playing as the desperate team that often achieves a lot in this game through their last eight quarters.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Leverage Defense to Reach .500 Against Falcons" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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