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Game Notes

PHI 37, DAL 9: Cowboys Squander Early Opportunities

Jess Haynie

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The Philadelphia Eagles struggled early, appearing out of rhythm following their bye week. They punted on five drives and had a missed field goal on another. The Dallas Cowboys failed to take advantage of that opportunity and only had a 9-7 lead after two quarters.

Then the NFC East leader woke up after halftime.

The Eagles scored touchdowns on their next three drives in the third quarter and finally put the Cowboys away with a touchdown off a Dak Prescott fumble. The Cowboys wouldn’t score another point after halftime and were barely able to function on offense.

Missing Tyron Smith for the second-straight game, the Cowboys could not protect their quarterback. Prescott was sacked four times and pressured into three interceptions, a new career high. He only managed 145 passing yards, mostly short throws to Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams with no real gains after the catch.

Alfred Morris stepped up with 91 rushing yards on just 17 carries, but his production came in bursts.  He broke a couple of big runs but did not have sustained, consistent yardage throughout the night to help settle the offense.  Dallas faced far too many 3rd-down plays and had to leave guys back to help Byron Bell at left tackle, crippling the offense.

The slow first half for Philly gave Dallas a chance at a bigger halftime lead, but they couldn’t get in the endzone. With the defense expected to struggle without Sean Lee again, the Cowboys couldn’t afford field goals. Those first-half failures left the door wide open for the Eagles to come back.

Other Notes

  • Ryan Switzer took the opening kickoff 61 yards, his first big return of the year. Unfortunately, Dallas did not have any plays on offense that were as exciting.
  • Despite eight catches tonight, Dez Bryant remains tied with Bob Hayes at 71 receiving touchdowns for the franchise record. He will get two more opportunities in the coming weeks to become the all-time leader in front of the home crowd.
  • The Cowboys did not record a sack tonight, something that wouldn’t have surprised us in 2016 but seems shocking now. DeMarcus Lawrence was close on several occasions but Carson Wentz showed off his elusiveness throughout the night.
  • While Dallas still desperately needs Sean Lee back in the lineup, Jaylon Smith looked sharper tonight than earlier this year. Confidence in his body and recognition of plays will continue to improve for the redshirt rookie, and tonight was a sign of progress.
  • Dan Bailey could be back on Thursday, but give some credit to Mike Nugent for a solid run in his absence. After going 3-for-3 tonight, Nugent is 7-of-9 since joining the Cowboys.
  • The Cowboys will host the 3-6 Los Angeles Chargers this Thursday for the annual Thanksgiving game. They put a 54-24 beat down on the Buffalo Bills earlier today, but that was thanks largely to five interceptions from the Bills’ new starting quarterback, Nathan Peterman.

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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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1 Comment
  • Russ_Te

    The Eagles had just so-so offensive numbers tonight except for a couple of gash runs from Ajayi. I’m still trying to figure out how you dominate that game on the road without big offensive stats – except of course they were +4 in turnovers and got 4 sacks.

    That LT is a siv and the Cowboys must address it in the offseason is clear, but while Atlanta’s sacks seemed to wreck the game for Dallas, tonight it seemed it was more that this offense is out of whack without Elliott – and Garrett has no answers for it.

    Dak forced that deep ball to Dez double or 3x covered – something he was not doing last year. QB’s will naturally try to do more when they have diminished support due to injuries, so it’s understandable but not something he can keep doing. And we’ve already seen it numerous times this year, even before the offensive injuries.

    This is an adjustment phase of Dak’s game where he has to learn to play with less pass protection and less run support. Defenses are not going to be as worried about or as keyed to stop the run if they are not facing a premiere RB. He will work through it and get back to Dak football, but this is the throes of it right now. No fun at all.

    Garrett will rightfully be killed again this week in the press so I will not focus there, except on what seems to be a lethargic passing game in general. When Dak has time, there are no big plays available. Dez is short-arming a big catch the team needed down the sideline 1st half, and Williams is popping up another ball that goes INT. Witten is giving you no threat and Beasley is locked down by what seems to be blueprint coverage schemes now.

    You badly need a spark offensively. You have Butler and Gathers available and it’s past time to deploy them.

    It should have happened after Atlanta. The season is gone and now it’s time to play other backups also. Dak needs reps but Cooper should get the last 2 starts of the year – let’s see him. Gathers, Noah Brown,
    Switzer, Awuzie, on and on.

Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys headed to New York a couple of days ago with a mission: survive a potential trap game versus a 2-10 New York Giants team. Despite not getting most of the help they needed from other teams around the league, at least Dallas was able to do the job they could control.

Through three quarters, the Cowboys struggled a lot. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when they decided to have a touchdown party, outscoring the Giants 20-0 in the final eight minutes of the game.

What did we learn from the Cowboys’ seventh win of the season? Here is this week’s edition of Takeaway Tuesday! 

Dak Prescott Bounced Back

Although the Cowboys are a team that’s barely breathing in the playoff race, the truth is there’re a lot of ways that Dak has improved as a QB. It’s easy to look at a team lose football games and blame the QB without hesitating. That’s been the case most of the season.

It’s fair to say that Prescott hadn’t had an awesome game in a long time, though. But this time, he did just that.

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

Dak Prescott needed a performance like this one. He threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. He made some key throws and key reads during the game and managed to beat the Giants’ blitz with ease. Glad to see you hush the haters, 4.

Certainly a good thing to see when you need to go 3-0 in order to stay in the postseason conversation.

Concerns Around Dez Bryant Continue to Increase

Listen, I love Dez Bryant. He’s been one of my favorite players to ever watch. But at some point, you have to start admitting there is a problem. Yes, Dez Bryant has been struggling this season. Whether you want to blame Dak or Dez about it, it’s fair. I think they both are to blame.

The thing about Dez is that he can have quite a few bad plays and makes you forget about it when he  does something awesome. A perfect example of this is his 50-yard TD against the Giants last Sunday. It came at a perfect moment, but he had dropped some easy balls earlier in the game.

Dez – Streamable

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Dez is getting paid like an elite WR, and despite some great moments on the field, he’s been having a lot of bad ones lately. If you have a $70M contract, you can’t frequently drop passes like that.

It may be about chemistry with his new QB, it may be about age, or it may be just about a couple of bad years for the guy. Whatever it is, as much as we hate to say it, Dez isn’t anywhere close to the “top receivers” conversation this year.

Sean Lee Proved to be Invaluable Once Again

Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?I’m constantly amazed by the difference the Cowboys’ veteran linebacker makes when he’s on the field. In his heroic return against the Giants, he finished the day with 18 total tackles, 10 of which were solo. With Sean Lee on the field, this defense has been able to be a headache for opposing offenses.

Sean Lee could easily be this team’s MVP. For Cowboys Nation, it’s been a season of constantly missing football players in Dallas. Out of everyone, I think Sean Lee is the player we missed the most. Including Ezekiel Elliott.

This defense transforms into a very capable one with Lee around. The Cowboys need Zeke back if they want to have success in their hunt for the playoffs, but without Lee, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis Are Still Killing It

Coming into this game, one of the biggest question marks was the cornerback position for Dallas. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis were going to get the start, and there’s always uncertainty around rookies going up against a QB like Eli Manning.

lewis – Streamable

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Look at that coverage by Jourdan Lewis. Look at him turn his head around when the ball’s coming. The way this secondary will grow is exciting to think about. The Cowboys have something special in these two guys. They’ll make for an amazing CB duo for years to come, and I’m excited about what they bring to the table.

Chidobe Awuzie has played the last two games, and he’s been very impressive. Throughout the entire game, his converge was pretty impressive. Eli only targeted him 5 times in the ballgame and was able to complete just two passes against him.

Sean Lee ended up with the interception late in the fourth quarter, but it was perfectly set up by Chidobe Awuzie.

Awuzie – Streamable

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It was a very fun fourth quarter for the Dallas Cowboys, and even though it looks difficult… this football team’s playoff hopes are still alive. Jason Garrett must keep this team focused in the Oakland Raiders for now, though.

Hope dies last, Cowboys Nation. Keep your head up.

Tell me what you think about “Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Game Notes

Forget Elliott For Now, Cowboys Must Focus On Raiders

Kevin Brady

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Despite looking dead to rights just two weeks ago, back to back wins have put the Dallas Cowboys into the playoff hunt with just three games remaining.

In order to even have a chance at sneaking in as the sixth seed, Dallas will need to win each of its remaining games to finish 10-6. In some ways, the playoffs started two weeks ago when Dallas took on the Washington Redskins. But even though this Sunday’s contest is another must-win, elimination game for the Cowboys, it’s also a classic “trap” or “look ahead” game as well.

Before the season started, most expected the Oakland Raiders to be competing for AFC supremacy. Like the Cowboys, Oakland bursted onto the scene in 2016 with a young quarterback, a dynamic offense, and an exciting roster. But, like the Cowboys, they have faltered a bit this season due to underperforming stars, injuries, and a somewhat undermanned defensive unit.

The Raiders are now 6-7, and while still alive in the AFC West race, saw their best shot at overtaking the division go up in a smoke last Sunday as they were demolished by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Simply put, the Raiders are not a very good football team right now. And though this will be a road game for the Cowboys, it is one they should win if they are truly a playoff team. In fact, it’s one they have to win if they want to keep their slim playoff chances alive.

The reason why this could potentially be a “trap” game of sorts is who the Cowboys are scheduled to play after traveling to Oakland. A team who has been a perennial playoff contender in the NFC, and a team directly in front of the Cowboys in the current NFC standings – the Seattle Seahawks.

Not only will that Seattle game be massively important to the Cowboys if they can sneak out of Oakland with a victory, it will also feature the return of star running back Ezekiel Elliott from his six game suspension.

December 24th will be a huge day in Dallas if the Cowboys can get to 8-6 this week, but they can ill-afford to look ahead to that potentially important showdown with the Seahawks. Because if they do and the Raiders upset them at the home in primetime, the Cowboys season will end before Elliott even gets the chance to come back.

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Game Notes

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants’ Blitz

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

While much of Sunday’s victory over the New York Giants featured some ugly football from the Dallas Cowboys, the team continued to fight until completing a 20 point route of their division rivals.

Of course, stars emerged on both the offense and the defense throughout the game. Rod Smith had a breakout day, Dez Bryant made a couple of “vintage” plays, and Sean Lee returned to health and led the defense to a fantastic performance.

But as we all know, quarterbacks make the world go ’round. And no matter how great the other pieces play, it’s hard to win football games unless you can maintain high level quarterback play.

Dak Prescott returned to that high level against the Giants on Sunday.

Even if Prescott is missing throws or having accuracy issues, he had never lost his composure or made the wrong reads until that Atlanta Falcons debacle. I really believe that Dak lost faith in his protection, began abandoning clean pockets, and ended up having a few bad games in a row.

All seems right with Prescott now, as he threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns during the Cowboys’ big win. The area he was most impressive, was with those reads – specifically against the blitz.

dalvsnyg dak to dez td – Streamable

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On his first touchdown pass of the game, Dak Prescott beats the blitz perfectly. Just before snapping the ball, Prescott notices the safety roll down into the box. You can see him subtly move his arm to point out the safety, while calling it out to his linemen as well.

As soon as he gets the snap, Dak knows exactly where to go. The Giants tried to beat him with a delayed safety blitz, but once that safety comes, Prescott knows he has Dez Bryant in man coverage on the perimeter.

His eyes immediately snap that way, and his throw replaces the blitzer quickly. This allows Bryant to do the rest, and the Cowboys to tie the game.

dalvsnyg 17 cole beasley – Streamable

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Later in the game we see more of the same from Dak Prescott. With the game tied at 10 the Cowboys faced a critical third down backed up in their own territory. The Giants once again show blitz, bring the  blitz, and Dak burns them for it.

The Giants show man coverage across the board pre-snap, with safety Landon Collins on the near hash. Cole Beasley is in the near-slot, and while he technically has a man over him directly, the Giants show 2-over-1 in the slot pre-snap. This usually tips off a blitz, as the Giants plan to bring their slot defender off the edge, and allow Landon Collins to cover Beasley one on one.

Prescott notices this pre-snap once again, and makes the defense pay. He quickly replaces the blitzer with his throw, allowing Beasley to make the easy catch underneath and then do the rest after the catch.

This may not seem all the difficult to do to those analyzing the game the next morning, but these reads indicate high level quarterback-ing from the Cowboys’ franchise leader, Dak Prescott.

Last season against the Giants, their defense was able to bring more than the Cowboys could block on key third downs a few times. Too often, Prescott and the passing offense could not beat those blitzes.

That was not the case this week at all.

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