First off, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I hope you all spend time with your loved ones and enjoy some NFL Sunday Football — Christmas Edition. Also, be happy that you don't have to stress about the Dallas Cowboys on Christmas.
As everyone saw, the Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles in a nail-biter at home to give themselves hope of winning the NFC East. Well, at least for one more week, since the Eagles just need to win one more game to clinch — or they can rely on the Boys dropping another game.
While it was a win, we should be all happy — I still wanted to look at the game and give out grades for some players who “balled” and “flopped.” Also, in the spirit of Christmas, players who balled will be given the “nice” designation, and guys who flopped will be given the “naughty” label.
So, to ease your curiosity, check them out below.
Ballers (Nice): Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Brett Maher
We start with QB Dak Prescott, who looked poised to have a terrible game against the Eagles on Christmas Eve. After throwing a pick-six on the opening drive, Prescott rebounded and threw for 300-plus yards and three touchdowns.
Dak Prescott earned a season-high 91 NGS passing score in Week 16.
Prescott completed all 24 of his passes against zone coverage for 300 yards & 3 TD, becoming the only player to earn a perfect 99 NGS passing score vs zone in a game since 2018.#PHIvsDAL | #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/zdNto4GSXU
At times, Prescott made plays that made you scratch your head. However, he kept the Cowboys in the game. And without him, I don't envision them staying neck-in-neck with the Eagles the whole game.
But let's talk about a guy who helped make his job easier the whole game.
Any NFL fan has to willingly admit that Lamb completely dominated the Eagles from start to finish, and without him, there isn't a passing game for Prescott. Lamb, who led all wideouts on both sides (statistically), had an iconic performance that many fans will remember for years.
“The Lamb Eve Game.”
Anyways. Lamb has been on a tear this season — but for him to do against the Eagles was a fun sight to watch. It looks like the franchise has the next great 88 on its hands, and the crazy part is he's only going to get better.
Also, remember those whispers about him not being a true WR1? Well, damn, it looks like he is one now.
#Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb has caught 27 of his last 31 targets for 350 yards and 3 TDs.
He averagered an INSANE 11.3 yards per target in December.
Lastly, we give some roses to Brett Maher. Before the season, fans (including myself) were panicking about who would kick FGs for the Boys this year. I admit that it was going to be former Texas Tech Jonathan Garibay — who looked like the real deal in college.
However, once Maher came back, I was skeptical. Well, guess what? I'm not anymore, as Maher has been a reliable option this year. Going 4-4 yesterday got him to 27 of 30 made FGs on the season. Not too shabby, Maher. Not too shabby.
Floppers (Naughty): Trevon Diggs and Cowboys pass rush
If you watched yesterday's game, you knew Diggs name was coming. While he's arguably the Cowboys best cover corner, and he's bound to have hiccups in his career — his miscues were emphasized on the big stage as the Eagles used his aggressiveness against him.
Don't get me wrong, Diggs is a ball-hawk — and I don't mind the aggressiveness he has to get a momentum-swinging turnover. However, once playoffs come around, he has to limit that aggression and limit the big plays like he's known to do.
Diggs is fine. And to clarify, I'm labeling him a “flop” only because he arguably had a subpar performance. But to point out, it also doesn't help that he has no help beyond CB DaRon Bland — who is an HONORABLE MENTION FOR A BALLER ALERT, as he has improved every game.
But for now, Diggs is a flop. However, he's still “him.”
Lastly, we finish with the Cowboys' pass rush, which was once labeled as “the best in the league” by sports media. If you didn't watch yesterday's game and I told you that the Boys didn't get one sack on QB Gardner Minshew – would you believe me?
Well, you should, because that's the reality. According to PFF, the Eagles' offensive line only allowed six pressures on 30-pass-blocking snaps and held the Boys to zero sacks. While the pressure and pass-rush came through when needed to speed up Minshew's decision-making near the end of the game — it was non-existent for the rest of the game.
Many things can be pointed to why the Cowboys couldn't get home on Minshew. But when it comes down to numbers, the pass rush just wasn't there. And when the defensive line isn't getting home on the QB — it makes the secondary suspect.
AKA, why Minshew was picking apart the defense so seamlessly. Also, one of the ways that the Eagles eliminated the Cowboys' pass rush in their first matchup was by running the ball. Guess how many rushing yards they had yesterday? 87.
The team undoubtedly needs to make adjustments to get their pass-rush rolling again.