Despite winning eight straight games before hosting the Baltimore Ravens, the Cowboys week 11 match-up with those Ravens was labeled a pivotal one.
The New York Giants, who had defeated the Cowboys earlier in the season, were right on their heels in the division, and Baltimore came in with a strong defense many thought could be the first to really slow Dallas down.
So, with just a seven point lead in the fourth quarter of a low scoring game, the Cowboys needed to come away with a long drive and some points.
Spoiler alert, they did both.
Running the ball effectively on this drive, Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott put the Cowboys in scoring position. Then, on second and eight from the Ravens 13 yard line, Dak put the game away for good.
Let’s check the tape on this key touchdown pass to Dez Bryant.
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On this second and eight, the Cowboys come out in 11 personnel. Tight end Jason Witten is in the slot at the top of the screen, and Lance Dunbar is the lone running back in this package.
With trips to the left of the formation, Dez Bryant is all alone on the bottom of the screen. The cornerback has Dez in one-on-one coverage, something which has been a key scheme mistake of defenses since Bryant entered the league.
Baltimore feels confident, however, that they can pressure Prescott with their blitzers and force an errand throw.
Instead, Dak Prescott recognizes the blitzers pre-snap, and shifts the protection. All five of the offensive linemen and Dunbar do a great job of picking up the blitz. Having only six blockers to face seven rushers, the last man off the edge becomes Prescott’s hot read.
Calling out the blitz pre-snap and possibly adjusting the route with Bryant due to the defense’s play call and alignment, the Cowboys are able to catch the Ravens in a bad defense.
If Dak is able to get some time in the pocket, like he does here, and you give Dez Bryant that much space at the line of scrimmage, you are probably done for. Prescott then finds Bryant on a quick slant route, and Dez does the rest to get into the end zone and virtually put the game away.
When the Cowboys offense is clicking, it is a beautiful thing to watch.