This game could’ve been about all of the missing starters. Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, and Orlando Scandrick were all inactive; a ready-made excuse for a Cowboys loss.
But it was a player who has spent years on the injury list who stepped up to help carry the Cowboys to 3-1.
Morris Claiborne had an interception, his first since 2014 and only the fourth in his career, to stop a San Francisco drive in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys were able to go get a field goal to go up 24-17.
On their final drive, Claiborne made two key stops. He brought down Blaine Gabbert behind the line of scrimmage on a scramble, then made the tackle on 4th-down to give the ball back to Dallas.
This big game came hours after Gil Brandt posted that Morris Claiborne was tied for the lowest “burn percentage” among NFL defensive backs. In a renaissance season for the man playing on a “prove it” one-year contract, this was perhaps Claiborne’s single-greatest day as a Cowboy.
- Ezekiel Elliott’s 138-yard day will likely make him in the NFL’s leading rusher after Week 4. He continued to show the improved rhythm with his blockers that emerged last week. Elliott averaged 6.0 per carry and helped the Cowboy remain in the game early when the passing game was struggling.
- Despite the big day on the ground, perhaps Zeke’s biggest play came on a pass. Down 14-7 and facing a 1st-and-20 after a holding call, Elliott took a screen pass 19 yards. Dallas went on to score the game-tying touchdown just before halftime.
- Dak Prescott started the game a little less sharp then what we’re getting used to. However, the rookie settled down and finished with another stellar performance. He completed 71% of his throws for 245 yards and two touchdowns. He almost had a third touchdown on a late back-shoulder throw to Brice Butler, but the 49ers’ defender stuck his arm in to break it up.
- The Cowboys defense struggled greatly to start the game and again immediately after halftime. The 49ers’ scored their two touchdowns on their first two possessions and their field goal on the first drive of the second half. Give Dallas credit for being able to reset and make stops as the game went on.
- Dan Bailey missed his second field-goal of the season, a 47-yarder, and is now 8-of-10 for the season. Coincidentally, his miss last week against the Bears was from the exact same distance and was also wide left.
- Terrance Williams had a nice game after a rough start to his season, highlighted by a tough touchdown catch on Dallas’ first scoring play. The notorious body catcher made an all-hands play against tight coverage, maintaining possession through contact in the endzone.
- Tyrone Crawford had his second sack of the year, against coming from the defensive end position. It is appearing more and more likely that he will keep that spot when DeMarcus Lawrence returns. Maliek Collins continued to make some disruptive plays from the inside and is getting hard to take off the field.