Welcome to the Monday Moment series.
Each Monday, I give a detailed review on a key play from the Dallas Cowboys 2016 season. We are up to week six now, with the Cowboys traveling to Green Bay for their “first NFC test” against the Packers.
After a tight first half in which neither team could pull away, the Packers faced a pivotal fourth down decision in Cowboys territory. Being they were too far for a realistic field goal attempt, and too close to really gain anything from a punt, they kept their All-World quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the field and told him to go get it.
Cowboys safety Byron Jones had a different plan for the play, however.
Coming out in a cover one look, Byron Jones was assigned man coverage with the Packers slot receiver (Randall Cobb) at the top of the screen. Underneath, the Cowboys utilized their classic 3-2-6 look which they went to multiple times throughout this game. Spying the quarterback, as he did a ton of on this October Sunday, is linebacker Justin Durant.
Only rushing three, the Cowboys give Rodgers plenty of time to sit in the pocket and survey the field. Considering the Cowboys are in man coverage underneath of deep safety JJ Wilcox, Rodgers had to have been confident that at least one of his guys could win their match-up.
With no clear winners emerging downfield, Rodgers decides to take a chance with one of his better receivers, Randall Cobb.
Cobb is trying to beat Jones with a corner, or flag route, using the pylon as his final aiming point. Jones does a great job at the line of scrimmage of funneling Cobb inside, and not giving him a clean release off the ball.
Using a trail technique and sticking to Cobb's back-hip, Jones remains in good position throughout the entire route. It was going to take a perfect pass from Rodgers to beat Byron Jones here, and even then he would be taking a chance.
Once the ball is in the air Jones recovers any ground which had been lost, and comes up with a key pass deflection to force a turnover on downs.
At the time of this stop, the Cowboys only led 10-6 and the Packers were clearly threatening to take over the lead. Instead, Dallas ended up taking a 17-6 lead into halftime, and blew the doors of the Packers in the second half to win their fifth straight game and improve to 5-1.
So, for all you Byron Jones haters out there, make sure you remember him making key plays such as this one.