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Dallas Cowboys vs the New York Giants: Defense the Key to Victory

John Williams

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DeMarcus Lawrence, Franchise Tags and Realities for Dallas Cowboys

Week two is finally here. Finally the Dallas Cowboys and we the fanbase can put behind us last week's loss -- mostly -- and look toward this week's matchup with the New York Giants. A division rival who also sits at 0-1 is great medicine to forget about a let down of a season opener.

Hopefully.

This is a really interesting matchup that each team has some areas that they can take advantage. Both the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants have strengths and weaknesses and as I began breaking it down, it appears that the Dallas Cowboys biggest strength is the New York Giants greatest weakness.

So, without further adieu, let's dive in.

When the Dallas Cowboys Have the Ball

It's safe to say that last week was a disappointment on the offensive side of the football. Nothing really seemed to go right for Dak Prescott and the offense until they went no-huddle in the third quarter to try and get something going.

I'd love to see them open this week with no-huddle and hurry up to get Dak Prescott and the offense in a bit of a rhythm. But, knowing what we know about this offensive staff, that doesn't seem very likely.

When the Dallas Cowboys Run

We all know that this is the bread and butter of America's Team. They want to establish the run, wear you down with the run, and finish you off with the run. Everything that they're about on the offensive side of the football is about the run.

The problem is that everyone in the NFL and their grandmother's knows it.

Having an identity is one thing, but being locked into their identity has become a detriment to the team. You could see it on pretty much every first down on Sunday. When they ran, they ran into fronts that had more defenders than the team could block and rarely did it go for more than a three yard gain.

Every team is going to come into a game with the Dallas Cowboys with a sole focus on stopping the run.

The Dallas Cowboys weren't the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Some of that was due to the play of the Carolina Panthers and some of that was due to lacking variety of play call on certain down and distances.

Warren Sharp provided this gem the other day. It shows the percentage of plays a team passes or runs on first down. The Dallas Cowboys 58% of first down run plays is the second highest rate in the NFL over the last three years. Only the Chicago Bears run the ball on first down at a higher frequency.

Warren Sharp on Twitter

Jason Garrett doesn't know what defines a "conservative offense". How about pass rates on first down in the first half. Last 3 yrs pictured. (Note where the good teams sit.)

Predictable much?!?!

Teams get this data and know that they can have their lineman guess run on first down and there's a really good chance that they're right.

Ezekiel Elliott ran for only 69 yards on Sunday on 15 carries. Elliott did average 4.6 yards per carry, but if you watched the game, you noticed that it was tough sledding for the Dallas Cowboys run game.

Ezekiel Elliott didn't play in the preseason and hasn't really had big games to start the season his first two years. Zeke has been a slow starter. He's averaging 63 yards rushing per game, with 3.5 yards per carry and has only three rushing touchdowns in games played the first two weeks of the season in his first three seasons (five games).

In Elliott's three games against the Giants, he's averaged 22.7 carries for 87.3 yards, and 0.3 touchdowns per game. They've done a pretty good job at bottling him up. But given that two of those three games occurred in the first week of the season, it's hard to know if it's beginning of season rust, or if it's the Giants containing Elliott.

Dak Prescott was somewhat hesitant to run at times last week, opting to throw the ball out of bounds as opposed to making something happen with his feet. He ran five times for only 19 yards, but may have been hindered a bit by an ankle injury that happened midway through the second quarter.

Despite struggles in week one, you know that they're going to continue to run the ball. What we can hope for is that the Cowboys coaching staff allows Dak Prescott to pass more on first down so that the New York Giants defense can't be sitting on the run.

The New York Giants defense had a difficult task in week one facing the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars against the Giants ran for 4.72 yards per carry and 137 rushing yards in their week one win. This, while Leonard Fournette only received nine carries (41 yards and 4.55 yards per carry) as he was forced to leave the game due to injury. T.J. Yeldon came in and ran 14 times for 51 yards for 3.64 yards per carry.

Quarterback Blake Bortles had a nice day on the ground as well, carrying the ball four times for 42 yards.

The player that the Dallas Cowboys will have to account for along the defensive line is Damon "Snacks" Harrison. He's one of the better interior defensive lineman in the NFL and will be a challenge for Joe Looney, Zack Martin, and Connor Williams to control. If they are able to win that matchup along the interior, something they struggled with against Carolina, then the Dallas Cowboys should have a good day running the football.

When the Dallas Cowboys Pass

The Dallas Cowboys want to set up the pass by being effective in the running game. The problem that they've run into at times over the last nine games is that they haven't been super effective in the running game, thus making the passing game less efficient. They also haven't been throwing it well, so teams don't really have to worry as much about the pass.

We saw it against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers' defense didn't have much respect for Dak Prescott and challenged him to beat them. They loaded the box and made it difficult for the identity of the team to get the ball rolling.

The New York Giants only allowed the Jaguars to throw for 168 passing yards in week one. They currently rank ninth in the NFL in passing yards allowed.

Janoris Jenkins is still one of the better defensive backs in the NFL. On five targets in week one, he only allowed two catches, though they both went for greater than 15 yards. One a 17 yard reception to Dede Westbrook and the other a 31 yard reception to Keelan Cole.

Eli Apple played well on Sunday as well, only allowing one reception on four targets.

Surprisingly, Landon Collins, one of the best safeties in the NFL surrendered receptions on all four of his targets.

The Dallas Cowboys may not have the best passing game in the NFL, but if the Jacksonville Jaguars led by Blake Bortles can find some success against this pass defense, then Dak Prescott and the Cowboys should be able to as well.

They're actually very similar in their lack of top-tier receiving talent, as well as quarterbacks who have struggled to throw the ball at times in their careers. Both the Jaguars and the Cowboys want to run the ball and play defense.

Dak Prescott completed 65% of his passes, but his 5.86 yards per attempt is less than ideal. Generally you want to see that number over seven yards per attempt. There's been a lot said about Dak Prescott's week one, and the simple fact of the matter is that he has to be better. It's his third year in the NFL and it's time to show progress and not regression or stagnation. For the Dallas Cowboys to win on Sunday, they need Dak to be the Dak Prescott that helped them win 18 games in his first 24 starts.

The receiver to watch this week for the Dallas Cowboys is Cole Beasley. Beasley followed up a strong offseason with seven catches on eight targets for 73 yards. The seven receptions were the most he'd had since week three of 2016 when he put up an identical seven catches for 73 yards against the Chicago Bears.

With the Dallas Cowboys offensive staff moving him around more and opening up his route tree, it's allowed Beasley to be more active in the passing game. No longer is he relegated to slot duties only, but can work on the outside as well.

For the Dallas Cowboys, they'll have to figure out how to create balance among the receiving corp to find success. Cole Beasley, as great as he is, can't carry the receiving load all by himself. Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, Deonte Thompson, Terrance Williams, and Tavon Austin have to help Beasley and Dak.

Cowboys Blog - Giants' Fans Bank on Eli to Produce in Week 1

10/19/2014 - New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas - New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning #10 surveys the defense during the 3rd quarter.

When the New York Giants Have the Ball

The New York Giants have one of the better skill position groups in the NFL. With Odell Beckham Jr on your team, it almost doesn't matter who the rest of the guys are, because he makes your skill position group so much better.

They've got four guys who are pretty good to great weapons in Beckham, Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, and Saquon Barkley. Slowing these guys down is going to be a team defensive effort, but it all starts up front.

When the New York Giants Run

New York Giants Running Back Saquon Barkley was the subject of much debate leading up to and after the 2018 NFL Draft. He was the best running back in the draft. Of that there was and is no debate. The debate, rather, centered around whether the Giants should take a running back at second overall or whatever quarterback fell to them.

The choice seemed obvious in a draft with several quarterbacks who were being debated as the top pick in this year's draft. Eli Manning had been benched the season before and many thought that drafting a quarterback was inevitable. Until it wasn't. The team went with Barkley to help add an explosive running dimension the team has missed since the Tiki Barber days.

Saquon Barkley's debut with the Giants started out really slowly. Saquon's first 16 carries went for only 37 yards. Then he broke a 68 yard run that kept New York in the game in the middle of the fourth quarter bringing the score to 20-15. After the long run, Barkley only carried the ball one more time as the Giants had to go pass heavy to try to catch up.

Still his overall line looks really good for his rookie debut against one of the best defenses in the NFL. 18 carries, 106 yards, two receptions for 22 yards, and a touchdown. Not too shabby.

The Dallas Cowboys allowed 147 yards rushing in week one to the Carolina Panthers, though 58 was to dual threat quarterback Cam Newton. Panthers running backs ran 18 times for 86 yards and a touchdown.

You aren't going to have to worry about Eli Manning running the football on you like Cam Newton did, and so your defense already has a leg up compared to its week one matchup.

Containing Saquon Barkley will be a tough task, but one that is doable. The Dallas Cowboys have an edge along the defensive line and will be able to win their one on one matchups to slow Barkley down.

When the New York Giants Pass

Odell Beckham, Jr. Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, and Saquon Barkley. These are the names that the Dallas Cowboys defense will attempt to cover on Sunday against the New York Giants.

This is one of the best receiving groups in the NFL led by the immensely talented Beckham who had 11 catches for 111 yards in the Giants week one loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Eli fed him 15 targets, which was more than twice the number of Sterling Shepard who was second on the team in targets and receiving. He did most of his work over the middle of the field on Sunday, which would put Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and/or Leighton Vander Esch in for a lot of work when Dallas runs its cover three zone.

Seems like he's back and healthy and ready to roll. He's going to be a difficult cover for whoever gets that assignment.

The Cowboys have some gamers in their secondary in Chidobe Awuzie, Byron Jones, Anthony Brown, Kavon Frazier, and Jeff Heath. These guys aren't going to allow things to be easy for the Giants pass catchers.

The Dallas Cowboys' defensive line has an advantage over the Giants offensive line.

In week one the New York Giants offensive line allowed 20 pressures to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yes, you read that right. 20!!! That was more than half of Eli Manning's 37 drop backs. That's an insane amount. What's even more insane is that Eli was only sacked twice during the game. Eli gets rid of the ball quickly, and so the coverage is going to have to be tight and ready to make plays on the football when he does let it loose.

The Dallas Cowboys defensive line was credited with 16 pressures in week one and three sacks of Cam Newton.

How well the Dallas Cowboys rush is able to pressure and affect Manning is a key factor that will decide the outcome of this week's game.

Matchup of the Week

How well the Dallas Cowboys defense covers the New York Giants skill position players and gets after Eli Manning is going to tell the tale of this game. We know that Eli Manning will turn the ball over. In his career he's averaged an interception per game.

When the opportunities arise, can the Dallas Cowboys take advantage?

I don't think I'm going out on a limb by saying the Dallas defensive line has a big advantage over the offensive line of the New York Giants. Whether they will be able to use that advantage to create negative plays -- either sacks or turnovers -- is a big key in the game.

For the New York Giants, they will need to limit the damage done on the ground by Ezekiel Elliott. If the running game for the Dallas Cowboys gets off to a strong start, it will open up the passing game and make for a long day for the New York Giants defense.

Prediction

Last week I predicted a double-digit win for the Dallas Cowboys and that fell flat on its face, though I did predict Carolina's score correctly. I still see the Cowboys as the victors in this game, but I believe it will be a close one. I think it's a fairly even matchup, but the play of their respective offensive and defensive lines will be the difference and I believe the Dallas Cowboys are better in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

20-17. Cowboys Win. 

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Tell me, Cowboys Nation, how do you see this game turning out?



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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Game Notes

Jason Garrett’s Decision Making Stands Out in Playoff Loss

John Williams

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Are the Dallas Cowboys Distancing Themselves from HC Jason Garrett? 2

The 2018 NFL season has come to an end for the Dallas Cowboys. The Los Angeles Rams were simply the better team on Saturday night in the Coliseum and it showed in the 30-22 loss. While it was a disappointing performance, there were several things to take away from the game to give us reason for optimism moving forward. Connor Williams played well against Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh on the interior, Dak Prescott kept the team in the game despite little help from the running game, and Head Coach Jason Garrett perhaps coached his best game from a management point of view.

After the first drive, this game had one of those, if the Dallas Cowboys have to punt, it's likely going to be a loss feels. The defense's inability to force more than one punt or create a turnover was going to make it really difficult for the offense to keep up, and yet at the end of the game, the Cowboys were within a score and had a shot to win. Dak Prescott deserves a lot of credit for that, but so does Jason Garrett.

Here's why.

4th and 1's

Jason Garrett has long been viewed as a conservative coach in the NFL, and this season he didn't do much to help his reputation, but that game on Saturday should change some of that perception. On a night where it looked like his defense didn't have it, he called the game he needed to maximize his team's possessions.

On the opening drive of the game for the offense, the Cowboys got to the Rams 49 yard line, but faced a 4th and 1. Garrett didn't waste any time going for it and the Cowboys were able to convert on Ezekiel Elliott's five yard run. A Marcus Peters' unneccessary roughness penalty gave the Cowboys an extra 15 yards and the Cowboys scored on the next play on Amari Cooper's 29 yard catch and run to give the Dallas Cowboys the lead.

It would be their only lead of the night.

Again, in the second half, the Cowboys faced a 4th and 1, this time it was at the Rams 41 yard line and this time, the Cowboys were down 23-7. This was not nearly as difficult a decision as the Cowboys were in catch up mode and needed to get a score to bring the game within striking distance, and they did just that. Again, Elliott picked up five yards when the Cowboys needed one and Elliott capped off th drive with a one yard touchdown run after Michael Gallup's long reception on a broken play.

At the Rams 35 yard line and the game within reach, the Cowboys went for it again on fourth down, but this time were stopped short of the first down marker when Ndamukong Suh made an excellent play to prevent Elliott from picking up the yard. On the play, you can see Suh start to Joe Looney's left, which forced Elliott to go to Looney's right and Suh followed Elliott into the hole. There was much Looney could do as Suh had the necessary leverage to make the play. It was absolutely the right call to go for it in that situation, but the Cowboys went to the jumbo formation-Elliott inside run one too many times. It was clear where the ball was going to go in that situation, and they were stuffed.

On what turned out to be the final drive of the season for the Dallas Cowboys, they needed to score and score rather quickly to have a chance to get the ball back one more time. The offense scored, but took a little too much time doing so as the drive took just over five minutes off the game clock. Again, on the drive, they were faced with a fourth and 1, but this time they used Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott on a speed option to the right and they were able to convert and eventually get the touchdown.

For the game, the Dallas Cowboys went three for four on fourth down attempts.

Point After Decisions

In the middle of the third quarter, the Dallas Cowboys scored to make it 23-13. Generally in the NFL, teams don't go for two until they have to go. Knowing that possessions were going to be few and far between the Cowboys were likely going to have to score on every possession the rest of the game, Garrett went for two and the Cowboys converted to make it an eight point game.

Then after the Dallas Cowboys scored to make the game 30-21, there was much discussion on social media on whether the Cowboys should have gone for two there or just kicked the extra point, which was a bit surprising.

To me, it was simple. Kick the extra point to make it 30-22 and hope your defense gets you the ball back and you can score again. If you go for two in that situation and don't make it, the game is essentially over with just over two minutes remaining. Taking the extra point kept you in the game, even if it was still only a slight chance to pull out a win.

Declining Penalties

With about 3:20 to go in the third quarter, the Dallas Cowboys defense faced a third and two situation around midfield against the Rams. They were able to force Rams Quarterback Jared Goff into a hurried throw and he overthrew Josh Reynolds in the flat for what would have been a first down.

On the play there were two penalties, offensive holding and offensive pass interference and Jason Garrett declined the penalties.

To me it was one of the boldest coaching decisions has made in his career on something that seemed very innocuous.

Sean McVay and the Rams were having their way with the Dallas Cowboys defense as Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson gashed their way to over 100 yards rushing each. With the Rams facing a fourth and two on the Dallas Cowboys side of the 50 yard line, most people thought the Rams would go for it there and completely steal the soul of the Dallas Cowboys.

Johnny Hekker did his best to get the Dallas Cowboys to think he was going to run a fake, but the Cowboys never panicked and stayed onside as the punter attempted to game them.

It was a huge call in that situation. If Garrett accepts the penalties, the Rams would have faced a third and 12 at their own 43 yard line, but would have had another opportunity to convert the first down and extend the drive.

I really liked the call, because it put McVay in a difficult position himself. If the were to go for it and fail to convert on fourth down, the Cowboys would have gotten the ball at about midfield with a chance to tie the game.

Kicking Deep vs Onside Kick

With the new rules governing kickoffs, mainly that teams have to keep a amount of players on each side of the kicker, onside kicks have become less and less successful in today's NFL. Even before the rule changes, recovering an onside kick was less than a 50/50 proposition.

Kicking deep was really the only decision to make. The hope is that your defense is able to get a stop and the Cowboys would get the ball back with decent field position.

And it nearly worked.

The Dallas Cowboys run defense came up big on first and second down, holding the Rams running game to three yards setting up a third and seven. Just as everyone was expecting the Rams to throw it, they ran a play action with a naked bootleg that left Jared Goff all alone on the outside with a ton of room to run, and zero Cowboys in position to prevent him from picking up the first down.

Ball game.

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On Saturday, Ian Rapoport from NFL Network, reported the Cowboys were looking to extend for Jason Garrett this offseason. It should come as no surprise as he helped orchestrate an impressive turnaround from 3-5 to 10-6 and NFC East champions all while fielding one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Jason Garrett has grown a lot as an NFL head coach and in the playoff loss, made excellent decisions to keep the Cowboys in the game. He's going to be around here for a long time and there should be a lot of optimism heading into 2019 that the Cowboys can make some strides.



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Game Notes

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly From Cowboys Divisional Round Loss

Brian Martin

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The Good, Bad, and Ugly From Cowboys Divisional Round Loss

Well Cowboys Nation, the Dallas Cowboys 2018 season had to come to an end at some point. Not many of us would have predicted earlier in the season that it would've come at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Divisional Round, but that's what happened and it's kind of bittersweet.

I don't know how you feel today, but I don't find myself all that upset the Dallas Cowboys season is officially over. Yes, I would've loved to see them completely dominate the LA Rams and advance in the playoffs, but I'm surprisingly really pleased with the way this team played this season. We have to remember that this is a young team and this is hopefully just the beginning of something great.

Today, I want to share with you some of the positives and negatives from the Cowboys game against the Rams Saturday night. This of course will be the last edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys 2018-2019 season.

The Good

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

Finding the positive after a loss isn't always the easiest thing to accomplish. The Dallas Cowboys didn't particularly play their best football Saturday against the Rams, which makes it even more difficult. But for me, the good has to be the resiliency and grittiness the Cowboys played with in LA.

I don't think anyone would argue that the LA Rams pretty much dominated the entire game Saturday. They put the Cowboys on their heels pretty much from the get-go, which took them out of their game. Dallas was never really able to establish their running game and couldn't get the Rams offense off the field. They've been able to pretty much do that against all their opponents this season, but just fell flat at the wrong time.

Despite getting manhandled, the Dallas Cowboys continued to fight back and never quit. They could've easily rolled over and given up, but they didn't. I think that really speaks volumes to the kind of players Dallas has on the roster. This is a really talented young team with a bright future ahead of themselves.

The Bad

C. J. Anderson

Los Angeles Rams RB C. J. Anderson (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Anyone who watched the game Saturday night pretty much knows what goes in this category. The bad for me and probably everybody else is how the Dallas Cowboys defense was gashed by the Los Angeles Rams rushing attack. C. J. Anderson and Todd Gurley absolutely dominated on the ground, leading their team to victory.

I knew the Rams rushing attack would give the Cowboys defense problems, but I never imagined they would rush for nearly 300 yards and multiple touchdowns. C. J. Anderson and Todd Gurley may be the ones earning all the praise with their performances, but they definitely wouldn't have found as much success as they did if not for their offensive line.

Dallas' front seven has been really good against the run all season. They only allowed a couple of 100 yard rushers this season (Chris Carson, Marlon Mack) until Anderson and Gurley both rushed for over 100 Saturday night. Unfortunately, the Cowboys DL just got overpowered by the Rams OL and it definitely impacted the outcome of the game.

The Ugly

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

What was pegged to be a matchup between two of the best running backs in the NFL, Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott, ended up being pretty much a one-man show. That is why the ugly Saturday night for the Dallas Cowboys in my opinion was their rushing attack.

We all know the Cowboys offensive blueprint is to establish the running game to help control the clock and game speed. That unfortunately never materialized Saturday night against the Rams, a team by the way that was giving up 5.1 yards rushing to opposing running backs. It was supposed to be a matchup that favored Zeke and Dallas' ground game.

I'll give credit where credit is due though. The Rams defensive line stepped up their game and didn't allow Zeke to get any kind of momentum going in the running game. They gave the Cowboys OL all they could handle and pretty much made their offensive attack one-dimensional. They wanted to put the game in Dak Prescott's hands and for the most part accomplished what they set out to do.

What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the LA Rams?



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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Run Defense, 4th Down Decision End Season in Los Angeles

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Run Defense, 4th Down Decision End Season in Los Angeles

The last round of the Dallas Cowboys fight in 2018 came at the hands of a hungry Los Angeles Rams team, ending their season in the Divisional Round behind 273 rushing yards. Effectively, the third seed in the NFC beat the Cowboys at their own game with the bye week to prepare. The fallout from this loss won't be fully realized until the sting is gone, but sweeping changes aren't expected in Dallas after a resurrection from 3-5 saw the Cowboys within a few plays of the NFC Championship Game.

How those plays were made and what the Rams did to execute a near flawless game plan is the subject of this final Sean's Scout of the season.

  • The Rams' success on the ground against Richard's defense was stunning for a lot of reasons, none more so than the way Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith struggled to react and fight off blocks.

The Cowboys issues at linebacker were a result of their front four getting blown off the ball all game by LA's offensive line. I wrote in my final game preview piece about how the Cowboys needed to win the line of scrimmage on both sides, losing with their own offense when the game was in the balance and never putting up a fight on the defensive line.

To the Rams' credit, even the simple things Sean McVay's team executes are done with an attention to detail that makes them very difficult to contain. The Rams did a great job scheming blockers to the second level, where Smith and Vander Esch were handled to the point of playing tentatively and taking poor angles.

In what could be his final game with the Cowboys or the end of his career, Sean Lee played 21 snaps, one shy of his week 17 total when the Cowboys played the Giants with the division already wrapped up. Getting caught in a game they couldn't possibly win against the better team at home, the Cowboys defense had no answers for Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson.

  • Dak Prescott's "in the grasp" call when he scrambled into La'el Collins' arms on third down was a bad look for the officials, but also an injured Cole Beasley, who was late working his route back to Prescott and into his line of vision. 

If Beasley was at full strength, he's likely able to stop his vertical route sooner and give Prescott an easy throw underneath as he rolled to the right. Left with nowhere to go, Dak had the play blown dead after Right Tackle La'el Collins wrapped his arms around Prescott while scrambling.

With the way the Rams came out on offense, it became clear that every Cowboys possession would be of dire importance. Losing one on a strange call like this was a blow Dallas never had a chance to recover from.

  • Lost in the Cowboys turnover on downs in the fourth quarter, the final time they touched the ball within a score, is the incredible third down throw Prescott made on the run to Noah Brown. 

To give his offense a chance on fourth and short, Prescott delivered a strike to Brown on the sideline for 13 yards. Without being able to set his feet, Prescott felt the pressure well and put the ball where only Brown could secure it falling out of bounds.

It's unfortunate the next play became the defining moment of the season for Dallas. Deciding to attack the strength of the Rams' defense, Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Michael Brockers were ready for an Elliott rushing attempt right up the middle out of 12 personnel.

Not only was Center Joe Looney beat on the play, but Collins lost leverage and was beat across the face to further clutter the middle of the field for Elliott to be stopped short. Making matters even worse, the Rams came out and attacked the Cowboys defense by flashing the misdirection plays that worked all night.

In just 12 plays, Anderson scored his second touchdown to all but put the game away for LA. The Cowboys would use Prescott's legs much too late on the ensuing drive, getting into the end zone but failing to get the ball back.

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As mentioned, this won't be an offseason of drastic change for the Cowboys. Bowing out in the divisional round for the second time in three seasons, adjustments to both the coaching staff and roster are needed for this team to take the next step.

For a team that looked nothing like a postseason contender for much of the regular season, the Cowboys improbable run of close wins came to an end against the Rams - determined to not lose their first playoff game in consecutive seasons.

They won't be happy with the result, but the Cowboys should be proud of their final outcome on this year.

As always, I'd like to thank Cowboys Nation for reading another season of Sean's Scout. Win or lose you make this job fun.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Run Defense, 4th Down Decision End Season in Los Angeles" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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