None of the other early results may have helped the Dallas Cowboys today, but they did handle business on the road against the Giants with a 30-10 win. Dak Prescott passed for a career high 332 yards and three touchdowns in the win, as the Cowboys turned things in their favor to bury the Giants in the fourth quarter.
The win over the dysfunctional Giants keeps the Cowboys' playoff hopes alive at 7-6, with one game remaining on the schedule (@ Oakland) without RB Ezekiel Elliott.
Here are my notes from this afternoon's game at MetLife Stadium.
- Richard Ash did a nice job at DT in the absence of David Irving.
There were moments in this game where the Cowboys missed David Irving inside, as the Giants looked to get RB Wayne Gallman going in their first game without Ben McAdoo. With Irving not making the trip to Jersey, Maliek Collins moved back to the 3T position and opened up a spot for Richard Ash and Lewis Neal to split time at the 1T. On New York's first drive of the game, Ash was able to do a great job to not stay blocked while holding the line of scrimmage with strong hands play.
The Cowboys forced the Giants to move the ball methodically against them, taking their chances that Manning or this offensive line would make a mistake, and sure enough a holding call backed the Giants up to start this game with a tying field goal. Credit Richard Ash's run defense throughout the afternoon as well.
- Speaking of run defense, I would have liked to see Jaylon Smith get more snaps alongside Sean Lee.
Lee's return to the field was nothing short of spectacular, as he unsurprisingly dominated against a weak Giants' front. In this game, you really saw what Rod Marinelli's scheme is all about with most of their pieces in place. This is a unit that wants to keep every throw in front of them and come up to the ball, which is why some of the only completions Eli Manning could find consistently were underneath check downs.
Cowboys Nation will have to wait for more of Lee and Smith alongside each other. Some of Smith's best plays in recent weeks have been stops against these shorts passes where he drops to shallow depth and reads the play well. Physically, his burst to the ball has improved each time out. With all of that said, Lee and Anthony Hitchens got the job done once again.
- Dez Bryant's 50-yard touchdown was set up by his get off on the line of scrimmage against Brandon Dixon.
Bryant has rightfully been criticized for his lack of ability to play away from contact and quickly create separation against physical CBs. Releasing violently off the line, Bryant legally pushed Dixon just slightly up the field and towards the sideline, which allowed him to use his balance and size to snap back inside and secure a well-timed throw from Prescott.
With Dixon out of the play after the catch, Bryant had nothing but turf in front of him to find the end zone and make up for two previous dropped balls.
- The Cowboys found their big plays on offense to win this game, with their biggest coming from RB Rod Smith.
Rod Smith and Alfred Morris really complimented each other very well in this game. One of the Giants' biggest strengths remains their defensive line, particularly their stout DT group led by Damon Harrison.
Harrison had his flashes as always in this game, but the Cowboys did well to get Travis Frederick and Zack Martin on the move to force this unit to play sideline-to-sideline. Morris was able to put his head down and cut back most of these wide carries for some dirty yards, and later in the game Smith used his extra speed and vision to rip off a 15-yard touchdown that followed his 81-yard receiving score to finish off New York.
Jonathan Cooper also had a very impressive game at LG dealing with the size of these Giants' linemen with consistent technique and power.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
That does it for another post game edition of Sean's Scout. The Cowboys may have gotten off to a slow start against a Giants team playing for pride today, but they will go into week 15 as winners of two straight.
Still in need of help beyond their control elsewhere should they reach the playoffs, the Cowboys will look to keep their momentum going on both sides of the ball as they prepare for another prime time game at the Raiders next Sunday.
CIN 21, DAL 14: Dak Prescott Continues Strong Preseason in Loss
The games may not count yet, but Dak Prescott looks ready for the 2018 season. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback continued his strong preseason play in the team's 21-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Prescott played three series, going 10/15 for 86 yards and a touchdown. He got the offense out of trouble a few times with his feet, avoiding sacks and ultimately getting the scoring pass off on a redzone scramble.
Dak's strong play has coincided with shutdown performances from the starting defense. The Cowboys' first-team defenders have yet to allow a score in two preseason games. Tonight, the Bengals were forced into four punts and two turnovers on their first-half possessions.
Overall, the Cowboys are a combined 24-7 in the first halves of their first two preseason contests.
The second half has been the problem, and for two weeks now Dallas' reserves have squandered halftime leads and given up losses. Thankfully, most of the responsible players will not be on the final 53-man roster.
- There were several concerning injuries for the Cowboys tonight. None was scarier than when All-Pro guard Zack Martin went out with a knee injury, but it does not appear to have been serious. Starting defensive backs Byron Jones and Xavier Woods also got banged up; Byron returned to the game but Woods did not. Defensive lineman Datone Jones also left with a knee injury.
- Even more concerning was the play of the second-team offensive line. Chaz Green was typically awful, but we also saw swing tackle Cam Fleming struggling and just an overall lack of protection for the backups quarterbacks. Green got benched in the second half and may have finally played his way off the team.
- Credit to Terrance Williams for getting open in the endzone to give Dak Prescott a receiver for the touchdown throw. Even with his warts, Williams' two years of experience playing with Dak can't be ignored in deciding who makes the team.
- Tight end Blake Jarwin continues to run with the starters on offense and may have quietly taken the job away from Geoff Swaim.
- Darius Jackson took advantage of some extra playing time tonight after Bo Scarbrough left with a hip injury. He broke off a few nice runs to amass 42 yards on just six carries, plus had four receptions.
- We finally get to see Dan Bailey kick a field goal again, and it was an easy 35-yarder with no issues.
- Shout out to Chidobe Awuzie for one of the pretty interceptions that a Cowboys DB has made in some time. Awuzie had to bend like Beckham (Odell, that is) to get a hand on the ball, then tipped it to himself for the pick.
- Preseason fun continues for the Cowboys next Sunday when they host the Arizona Cardinals on NBC's Sunday Night Football.
#DALvsCIN: Can WR Lance Lenoir Continue To Impress?
Entering training camp projecting who would make the final roster from the Dallas Cowboys wide receiving room was a crapshoot. The combination of misfits from other teams, unproven young guys, and a couple of Cowboys veterans makes this position group the most questioned across the entire roster.
But while Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, and Michael Gallup were stealing headlines, Lance Lenoir was making a name for himself among the Cowboys faithful.
After serving on the practice squad for the Cowboys a year ago, Lenoir seems to have entered 2018 with one goal in mind: to make the official game-day roster. And even if he falls short of this goal, it won't be due to any fault of his own.
Day in and day out Lance Lenoir has been a consistent wide out, catching nearly everything thrown his way and running some of the crisper routes on the team. Under new receivers coach Sanjay Lal, Lenoir has become a technical route runner and dangerous receiving threat.
Maybe most importantly for his future with the team, Lenoir has developed an obvious chemistry with starting quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott has continued to compliment Lenoir throughout training camp, and you know that the Cowboys front office is well aware of Prescott's trust in Lenoir on the field.
During the preseason opener against the 49ers, Lance Lenoir caught his first touchdown of the season, dazzling with his toe-tap ability. If he is going to steal a roster spot away from one of the more seasoned wide outs, however, he will have to remain that consistent target.
This Saturday, Lenoir gets another shot to prove why he's not only deserving of a roster spot, but of a starting spot. Sure, it might be a bit of a stretch, but if he continues to play like he has during camp and preseason, Lenoir could find himself working with the 1's more frequently.
Look out for Lance Lenoir against the Bengals this week, as he makes it harder and harder for the Cowboys to cut him by the second.
#DALvsCIN: Bengals DL Gives Cowboys OL Formidable Test
During their preseason opener, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line faced its first test of the season. The young, athletic, and downright talented defensive line of the 49ers gave the Cowboys starting five a chance to gauge their offseason progress thus far.
I'd say the starting group passed the test, while the backups and depth players looked a bit more shaky. The good thing about football, though, is that they get a shot to do it all again this Saturday.
This week's opponent, the Cincinatti Bengals, feature some serious talent upfront. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins is one of the best interior defenders in all of football, terrorizing centers and guards since he entered the league.
On the edge is one of my 2017 draft favorites, Carl Lawson. Lawson was a draft target of mine for the Cowboys, but it appears the entire league missed on the stud edge rusher during that draft. During his rookie season a year ago, Lawson racked up 8.5 sacks and looked like the best rookie rusher in all of football. It's rare that a rookie defensive end tallies the sack total that Lawson did in 2017, but then again, Lawson is a rare type of player.
Opposite of Carl Lawson is veteran pass rusher Carlos Dunlap. Together, Atkins and Dunlap have been one of the more dangerous pass rush duos for quite some time, but the additions of Lawson and Jordan Willis make them an incredibly impressive group.
During the Bengals' preseason opener against the Chicago Bears, their defensive line looked to be in midseason form.
Though Geno Atkins had the team's only sack, the trio of Atkins, Lawson, and Dunlap looked as prolific as ever.
This deep and talented defensive line is a more-than worthy test for the Cowboys this Saturday. Rookie Connor Williams will likely have to block Geno Atkins at some point, and though he looked promising against the 49ers, this week presents a whole different challenge.
Many now expect veteran center Travis Frederick to miss Saturday's game as well, due to his shoulder troubles during training camp. If Frederick were to miss the start, Joe Looney would be thrown into the first against this first team defensive front of the Bengals.
A rookie at left guard and Looney at center might not be the best ingredients against Geno Atkins and company, but it'll be what they have to roll with.
Still, Saturday will give us another chance to see what the 2018 Dallas Cowboys offensive line is all about.
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