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Game Notes

DEN 42, DAL 17: Elliott, Cowboys Shut Down in Denver

Jess Haynie

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Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott had just eight yards on nine carries, and that tells you about all you need to know about how things went for the Cowboys today in Denver. Zeke and the offense got shut down while the Dallas defense offered little resistance, allowing the Broncos to dominate at home in all phases.

Despite solid production last week against a very good Giants defense, the Cowboys couldn't get the run game going today. Elliot was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on nearly every touch. Dallas abandoned the run fairly quickly and any chance of Zeke finding rhythm was lost, but it's hard to think he'd have had much success based on what we saw.

The Cowboys' defense took a beating in every sense. Already missing Orlando Scandrick with a hand injury last week, they lost Nolan Carroll (concussion) and Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) early. That left Dallas with just Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis as active cornerbacks. Trevor Siemian threw four touchdowns and C.J. Anderson rushed for 118 yards.

While the loss was a demoralizing one, it may not hurt too much down the road. A road loss in the AFC is about as benign as it gets for the Cowboys. What's more, the Eagles also fell to 1-1 today with a road loss in Kansas City. Washington, who lost last week, defeated the Rams today. The Giants play tomorrow night as they host the Lions. At worst, the entire NFC East may be tied up going into Week 3.

Other Notes

  • Before today, Dak Prescott had never really lost a game by more than three points. He did start last year's 27-13 loss to Philadelphia in Week 17, but he only played the first two drives as the Cowboys were just waiting for the playoffs. This was, by far, the worst loss of his young NFL career.
  • With two interceptions today, Prescott already has half of his 2016 total. He did have two-pick game last year in the Cowboys second meeting with the Giants.
  • DeMarcus Lawrence matched last week's two-sack performance with another one in Denver, throwing a force fumble on top of it. Last year's sack leader, Benson Mayowa, only had six for the season. It looks like Lawrence is on his way to a monster season, which isn't all that surprising with his contract expiring.
  • With 10 catches and 97 yards, Jason Witten hit two new career milestones. He moved to fourth all-time in NFL history for receptions and became only the second TE in history with 12,000 receiving yards or more. His one touchdown tied him with Michael Irvin for third all-time in Cowboys history.
  • Rookie Jourdan Lewis got his first career interception in his first game. Lewis snagged an overthrown pass while the Cowboys were still trying to find a way to close the gap. It was tough day for Lewis otherwise, though, as he had to try to stick with one of the league's best route runners in Emmanuel Sanders.
  • Dan Bailey's 56-yard field goal matched his career long, which he's hit a few times before this year.
  • The Cowboys have a second road game next week, Monday Night Football against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals moved to 1-1 today with an overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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4 Comments
  • Mauricio Rodriguez

    Tough loss to the Broncos. Good job on the recap, Jess.

  • Russ_Te

    The Broncos loaded the box, Dallas was stupid enough to run right at it and the Dallas OL got beat by defenders who wanted it more. That set the tenor of the whole game. IMO very little of it is on Elliott or Dak. Very much of it is on Garrett for not using Elliott’s & McFadden’s speed and running outside, instead of directly into 8-man fronts.

    That put the Cowboys in long downs early, got the crowd fired up and then Denver also got good pressure and very good coverage. They earned it, Dallas did not.

    And some more DB injuries for Dallas. One of it’s worst outings in years.

    Lone positive: Demarcus Lawrence was big again. 4 sacks now in 2 games.

    • Reynaldo Laporte

      Losing is one thing. Losing like that is unacceptable. My biggest complaint is adjustments or lack thereof, for whatever reason the coaching staff cannot adapt.

      Everyone from the top down should be blamed but damn you would like to see us have some sort of contingency plan once things start to go haywire.

      I don’t know what the issue is, but why we don’t have Dez running slants or screens is beyond me. The guy is an issue is the open field let defenders try to tackle him. Since I am talking about Dez why he hasn’t developed his route running is truly a shame. What has Dooley been doing for the past seven seasons????

      The lack of emotion from our HC kills me it’s okay to get light fire under people’s asses, but he claps when we’re missing tackles. I repeat when we miss open field tackles he claps. Boggles the mind!!!!

      Plain and simple our O couldn’t stay on the field and our D couldn’t get off the field. Denver laid out the blueprint and granted we won’t be facing defenses like theirs or the Halfmen but Dak is going to have to keep them honest.

      This is only the second game of the season but I hope that we weren’t exposed.

      Excuse the grammatical errors and the rantings of a proud Cowboys fan.

      • Russ_Te

        I think the game was more an abberation than a defensive blueprint on how to stop the Cowboys. Sure, defenses will put 8 in box now, but they don’t all have the cover CB’s that Denver does. And at some point Linehan and Garrett will decide that Elliott and McF are faster than every defender, and pitch them the ball instead of crashing inside against an overloaded box.

        I agree that Linehan forgets about Dez. You have to throw him slants, hitches, bubble screens, a reverse – get him the ball early.

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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