The Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans, two teams fighting for their footing early in this NFL season, remained gridlocked through sixty tough minutes on Sunday night. In the end, it was the Texans earning their second straight overtime win, doing so at the expense of a now 2-3 Cowboys team.
The decision that will haunt the Cowboys ahead of another match up with the AFC South's Jaguars in week six is an overtime punt from the Texans' 42 yard line on fourth and a yard. On the previous play, Ezekiel Elliott was stopped for no gain running to his left behind Connor Williams and Tyron Smith.
Taking the emotion out of a game like this is always difficult, but now more than ever its a necessary step for the Cowboys - who remain in contention for the top spot in the NFC East despite weekly turmoil. With that said, here as always are my immediate thoughts on the Cowboys performance.
- Once again, poor safety play plagued the Cowboys at the wrong times in this game.
On the Texans first touchdown drive, both Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods were responsible for giving up extra yards that kept Deshaun Watson and Houston on the field. First, Heath was late dropping into coverage from a down position to help Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie on a catch by DeAndre Hopkins.
Awuzie was later taken out of the game, allowing Jourdan Lewis to see his first extended action of the season. I'll wait until I can study the film to see how Lewis held up, but at first glance it seemed like he finally took advantage of some playing time, as Anthony Brown moved from the slot to the outside.
Later in this same drive, Woods took a poor angle and arrived high trying to tackle Hopkins, who made him miss on his way to a big gain. Both Heath and Woods made up for these plays later in the game, with Xavier securing the Cowboys first interception of this season, but the Cowboys defense was later put in position to lose this game in overtime - which is exactly what happened.
- The Cowboys came into this game thin at defensive tackle without Maliek Collins and David Irving. While their pass rush ability was missed against Watson, give a ton of credit to Antwaun Woods and Tyrone Crawford for their play on the inside.
Rookie Defensive End Dorance Armstrong was even in the Cowboys rotation at 3T-DT in this game, but it was mostly Crawford handling this position alongside Woods.
Woods executed his assignments brilliantly throughout the night, holding the line of scrimmage when needed and creating some penetration as a 1T. On Jaylon Smith's touchdown-saving play before the half, it was Woods occupying a block while pushing into the backfield that helped Smith free himself to catch Watson.
It's a shame that this play won't be remembered as part of a Cowboys win, as its easily one of the best Jaylon has made with the Cowboys, and the same can be said about the consistency that Woods showed at DT.
The Cowboys defense deserved a better outcome in a game they brought to overtime thanks only to some red zone heroics.
- An underappreciated part of Dak Prescott's game was on full display during his touchdown pass to Allen Hurns.
The Cowboys best sequence of this game came out of the locker room to start the third quarter. Anthony Brown made a strong tackle that would've led to a Texans punt, but instead forced a fumble that was recovered by Lewis.
The Cowboys started from the Texans' 16 yard line, and thanks to some aggressive play calling by Scott Linehan were able to put the ball in the end zone. When Prescott came into the league in 2016, his ball handling ability to sell fakes was a huge part of the Cowboys offensive plan.
From three yards out, Hurns found himself wide open at the end line after Prescott was given time to execute a fake to both Tavon Austin and Elliott. It would have been fascinating to see if the Cowboys could have found similar success on fourth down in overtime, after not running behind Zack Martin on a failed third down.
- Rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch remains a bright spot for the Cowboys defense, and Kris Richard has proved he knows how to best utilize the Boise State product.
The Cowboys knew they were taking on a project in Vander Esch, and one with endless amounts of untapped potential. Criticized for being the team that pulled the trigger on this potential in the first round solely because of Sean Lee's injury past, the Cowboys are looking smarter with each week that Leighton gets a chance to prove himself.
All along, the Cowboys have had a plan for Vander Esch. Whether or not this plan involved him starting games this early in his career, Leighton has embraced the opportunity and is using every game as a chance to progress into a future leader for this Dallas defense.
Amazingly, Vander Esch has been free to flow to the ball without taking on many blocks this season. If LVE was ready to do one thing at the next level based on his college tape, its tackle in space. Vander Esch has done so at a tremendous rate, playing as a perfect complement to Jaylon Smith.
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The Cowboys will have plenty of questions to answer this week about what could have been in Houston, while also preparing for what could be still to come this season. On offense, this team's personnel faces a very tough match up against the Jaguars this week - a team that certainly won't feel sorry for Dallas after their own unraveling at the Chiefs on Sunday.
At this point, it feels like even another Cowboys win would do little to douse the flames surrounding this coaching staff, but there were enough on-field positives from the overtime loss to the Texans to expect this team to remain competitive.
Takeaway Tuesday: Zeke Had The Exact Kind of Game Cowboys Need
It's pretty difficult to deal with the hype of being 2-0 to open a 2019 NFL season. The Dallas Cowboys have done just that with a revamped offense and a quarterback that's thrown seven touchdowns in the process. They currently sit alone atop of the NFC East and although it's too early to know what kind of team this will be when it's all said alone, we're excited.
Let's dive into this week's takeaways!
We Need Robert Quinn Back
The Dallas Cowboys defense hasn't been as bad as many would think. They've had a few bad moments but the talent is still there and should be improving as the season goes on. Last Sunday, what was most frustrating to me was the lack of a pass rush. DeMarcus Lawrence had a pretty good game, even though his stat line doesn't look very pretty. The pressure was there constantly and he forced a handful of bad plays from Case Keenum. Tyrone Crawford managed to sack him once.
Other than that, for most of the game the pressure was scarce. Fortunately, the Cowboys are getting Robert Quinn back from suspension this week. Having two quality edge rushers will boost a defense that has the potential to be great, but has only been "good" two weeks into the season.
Ezekiel Elliott Had The Kind of Game The Cowboys Need
Zeke was back for a heavier workload in week 2 after having a snap count in the season opener. It may have not felt like it, but the Cowboys' star running back had a pretty good game versus the Redskins. On 23 carries he had 111 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
In contrast of recent years, Elliott had a great game without the team heavily leaning on the running game. Dak Prescott threw the ball 30 times and Zeke still had a great game. This is what Cowboys Nation should want out of Kellen Moore's offense.
Elliott has two rushing touchdowns in the season, compared to six in all of last year. This is a product of an offense that's now dangerous in many ways, specially in the red zone. You gotta love what Moore is accomplishing so far.
Slow Starts Can't Continue to Happen
The biggest issue with the Cowboys in the first two weeks of the season has been their slow openings. In both games they've started trailing early. The worst thing about it is that it's been due to giving up big plays (like Saquon Barkley's big run in week 1) and quick, unsuccessful drives on offense (like a three-and-out drive followed by a drive that ended in an interception last Sunday).
Fortunately for the Cowboys, the Giants and Redskins didn't pose much of a problem. But when we reach the tougher stretches of the schedule, we know how quickly a game can turn south. Not every rival will be as unforgiving as the 0-2 foes they've faced so far.
Dak Prescott Continues to Prove He's It
Last but not least, we'll talk about Dak Prescott. Once again, he looked great. He finished the day with 269 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that came on a tipped ball from Randall Cobb's hand. He threw an absolute dime to WR Devin Smith, giving him his ninth 50+ yard touchdown pass of his career (ranking third in the NFL since 2016 behind Tom Brady and Philip Rivers).
All game long, he was precise against Washington's defense. He dealt three touchdowns to three different players and was making throws with anticipation and poise. If you're not sold on Dak Prescott yet, I don't know if you'll ever be.
He also looked well as a runner, specially on that 42-yard run where he stiffed arm Josh Norman. I hope the Cowboys continue to use him in the running game.
The Brady Report: Cowboys Offense Dominant Despite Slow Start
The Dallas Cowboys followed up their dominant performance last week with yet another blowout divisional win on Sunday, defeating the Washington Redskins 31-21.
While the Cowboys controlled the game for much of the last three quarters, they actually got off to a slow start in Washington. Once again they fell behind to a lesser team 7-0 early, before scoring on nearly every possession to finish off the game.
Let's get into my game notes from the Cowboys' week two win.
- We have to start these game notes by talking about Dak Prescott. The Cowboys franchise quarterback was incredible for the second straight week to open this season. Despite the early interception, Prescott continued to look poised and calm in the pocket, allowing him to deliver a dime to Devin Smith for the team's first touchdown. Prescott was picking apart the Redskins secondary during the final three quarters to the tune of 269 yards and three touchdowns. Plus, he was very effective as a runner, including his dynamic 42 yard run on third down and one with the game still tied. If Dak is going to play like this, the Cowboys can beat anyone.
- Ezekiel Elliott looked a lot more comfortable Sunday than he did against the Giants. Not only were his raw numbers better, rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown, he was back to his ways of falling forward and avoiding the first tackler. He still didn't really explode the way we all know he can, which means opposing defenses should be scared when considering what the Cowboys offense's full potential could be.
- Which receiver didn't ball out Sunday? Michael Gallup seems to be developing an awesome rapport with Prescott, Amari Cooper continues to prove he's a legit WR1, Randall Cobb was once again effective on swing passes and in the slot, and even Devin Smith had himself a monster game. If Devin Smith is going to be the speed deep threat he was against Washington, look out.
- Ok, now that I've congratulated the majority of the offense, let's talk about the one guy who I'm sure would've liked to have a better day. Left guard Connor Williams. The second year guard was solid overall Sunday, but was abused by Daron Payne from time to time. Most notably, Payne went right through Williams both to force Prescott's interception and on the only sack of the game. Williams has to be better going forward, because he is the clear weak link across this dynamic offensive line right now. Luckily, as a whole, this line has been very good through two games.
- Defensively, things could've gone better for the Cowboys. While a lot of the production through the air came through garbage time, Terry McLaurin was still too effective down the field. Chris Thompson was also getting too much YAC against these defenders. Anthony Brown had a rough day in the slot, missing multiple tackles and not being too great in coverage either. Jourdan Lewis, however, did have himself a good game in limited snaps. Both he and Byron Jones made impressive open field tackles on third downs.
- The Cowboys run defense stepped up from a week ago. The tackling of their front seven overall improved as the game went on, and they held Adrian Peterson to just 25 yards on the ground. Part of this was because of how quickly the Cowboys got to their 21-7 lead in the third quarter, but they were solid nonetheless.
- Dallas' pass rush will benefit greatly from Robert Quinn's return next week against Miami. DeMarcus Lawrence created a couple big pressures on Sunday, but Quinn's presence should help free him up a bit to create more of a consistent pass rush.
Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly From Week 2 Against the Redskins
It's still a bit early in the 2019 season, but the Dallas Cowboys ability to go into hostile territory and come away with a victory against the Washington Redskins is a big win. Not only does America's Team remain undefeated to start the season, but they also now sit atop the NFC East in sole possession of the division.
The Dallas Cowboys again got off to a slow start Sunday afternoon against the Redskins but showed their resiliency by continuing to battle throughout the game. I expected a slobber knocker type of game considering the way these two teams battle it out every time they square off against one another and they certainly didn't disappoint. However, it was the Cowboys who prevailed in the end with the 31-21 victory.
But enough with the rehashing of yet another impressive Cowboys win. Let's get to the point of this article and dive into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly this week from the Week 2 matchup against the Washington Redskins.
I really wanted to go with Wide Receiver Devin Smith here this week because he had an impressive game against the Washington Redskins and ended up leading the team in receiving yards (74 yards, 1 TD), but I'm just going to give him a shout out instead. I think the good deservedly goes to Quarterback Dak Prescott. He continues to show he has taken the next step in his development, which is making the Dallas Cowboys offense one of the more lethal units in the NFL.
It may have taken a little while for the Cowboys offense to get going, but when it did it was because Prescott took charge. Once again he looked really good in the passing game, completing 26 of 30 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. His efficiency throwing the ball was awfully impressive, but so was his five rushes for 69 yards on the ground. His only little blemish on the day was the unfortunate interception that just so happened to bounce the right way for the Redskins. Overall though, Dak handled more than his share Sunday and did it really well.
Deciding what to put in this category each week is never an easy task. I absolutely hate singling out a single person, but this week I'm going to have to point my finger at Left Guard Connor Williams. He's my nomination for the bad this week due to the penalties he had at the most inopportune times. Last week Zack Martin did the same thing against the Giants and rebounded. Hopefully, Williams can do the same.
Although I put Williams in the section, I think the penalties the Dallas Cowboys piled up throughout the game against the Redskins probably deserve more attention than I'm giving them. It was a sloppy game from start to finish due to the amount of yellow flags flying Sunday afternoon, but it's kind of to be expected considering they are playing a divisional opponent and how early it still is in the 2019 season. Let's just hope the amount of laundry flying from now on is minimal to none.
For the second week in a row the Dallas Cowboys defense has failed to live up to the expectations many of us have had for them entering the 2019 season. For that reason alone I think they were the ugly from Sunday afternoon against the Washington Redskins. They really need to step up their game if they want to live up to the aspirations that we not only all have for them, but they have for themselves.
I honestly don't think the Redskins offense is all that much better than the Giants, who the Cowboys made look better than they truly are last week. I think they did the same thing in this Week 2 matchup as well. They are really struggling to bottle up the running game like they did last year. They're also giving too much cushion in the passing game and have allowed too many easy completions underneath. Hopefully they can bounce back next week against the Miami Dolphins, but if not we should all be really concerned.
What is your Good, Bad, and Ugly from the Cowboys victory over the Redskins?
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