Connect with us

Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Punt Away Chance at Division Lead with Heartbreak in Houston

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: Cowboys Punt Away Chance at Division Lead with Heartbreak in Houston
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

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.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Punt Away Chance at Division Lead with Heartbreak in Houston" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

1 Comment
  • oneputter

    safety play is going to kill us. heath for one should not be a starter, he would not start any where else in this league. woods missed several games so maybe that’s the reason but he should be on a short leash. why did they release tyree robinson for brice and brice doesn’t get on the field? call tyree back he can’t be any worse than what we have here now.

    it seems like every other week, zeke has a problem keeping his footing, he slips and trips over himself way to much, get some better shoes seriously! looney and williams did not play well last night.

    dak, when are you going to take a shot down the field? get up to the LOS and run the play, quit trying to act like you are some all pro QB that can change plays and read defenses and how about running on occasion. on RPO’s you have not run in two weeks, time to put your big boy pants on and run.

    play calling stinks! how about running away from 90 when they are ready to stunt up the middle? we run right at them and continued to all night, just plain pathetic from top to bottom. defense plays great but as usual the offense cannot sustain drives.

Game Notes

L.P. Ladouceur Insists “Nothing Different” on FG Attempt

John Williams



Cowboys Blog - Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur Is Greatest 91 In Dallas Cowboys History

There were other plays that certainly had as much of an impact on the outcome of the Dallas Cowboys loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday. However, sequence of events surrounding L.P. Ladouceur and the game-tying field goal attempt are front and center.

Prior to Brett Maher's game-tying 52 yard field goal attempt clanged off of the left upright as time expired, backlash on social media had already begun to spread about the so-called "snap infraction" that moved the Dallas Cowboys from what would have been a 47 yard field goal attempt to the 52 yarder that Maher pulled.

Five yards closer and Maher gets that kick through the uprights and the Dallas Cowboys go to overtime with a chance to take the division lead. It didn't and the Cowboys fell to 3-4, now a game and a half behind the Washington Redskins as the Cowboys head into the bye.

After the game, many of us were watching the snap and trying to figure out what exactly he did wrong to warrant the penalty. According to L.P. Ladouceur, he did nothing wrong and was adamant about that in the rare post game interview.

“I just adjusted down so I could put my hands on the bottom of it so I could snap it in the right direction. Exact same thing I’ve been doing for 14 years … I’m not even trying to get him offside. I know the situation. Just too bad.” 

L.P.Ladouceur - via Todd Archer,

It was a rare "miscue" for the 14 year veteran deep snapper. Seriously, I can't remember a time when this call was made on a deep snapper or when Ladouceur had a bad snap. He's been excellent. If deep snappers could get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, L.P. would be a first ballot Hall of Famer. He's been that good.

As Cowboys Nation attempted to make sense of the call, the NFL Officials Twitter account had an explanation of the penalty call after the game, which may give you more understanding, or more frustration.

NFL Officiating on Twitter

The illegal ball movement by the center in #DALvsWAS causes the defense to come across the neutral zone and contact a lineman." -AL

Their argument was that Ladouceur moved the ball in his snap and that is an "illegal ball movement." It was that movement which caused the defender to come into the neutral zone and make contact with the offensive lineman.

I'll have to admit, watching deep snapper All-22 film is not something I'm going to find myself doing and so, we'll lean on Mike Garafolo here.

Mike Garafolo on Twitter

Just watched a few of L.P. Ladouceur's snaps in recent weeks. He moves the ball a lot at times. Nothing out of the ordinary here. The difference could be that nobody jumped on previous snaps.

If what Garafolo says is true, that L.P. Ladouceur does move the ball a lot on his snaps, then how come he hasn't been called for it before. Mike could be right in that he hasn't been called for this before because no one has ever jumped offsides when he moved before. Regardless, the call has me wondering one of two things as to why they called it all of a sudden. 1) Either the officials don't usually see the ball movement or 2) they don't care. And both leave me a bit frustrated.

If they don't typically see the ball movement, then that means they didn't see the movement on Sunday and relied on the movement of the interior defensive lineman jumping offsides to make the call. To me, that is a problem. The officials need to be the ones making the call in these situations, especially a game-tying field goal attempt where five yards can make a huge difference. A defender is always going to act like he got drawn offsides. It's the officials job to make that call. Not the defense's.

If they don't typically care what long snappers are doing with the football prior to the snap, then why did they call it this time? A long snapper, like a kicker and punter, has a routine they go through prior to the snap to get their mind and body right. There's zero chance after 14 years in a game-tying situation that L.P. Ladouceur changed his approach to snapping on this particular field goal try.

The NFL Officiating body of the NFL says what he did is a penalty. Ladouceur says that's how he's always snapped.

So it begs the question, "why now?"

If that's always been a penalty and he's always snapped it like that, why did they pick that time in that situation to make that call. It may have been the right call, but it was a ticky-tack call and it inserted the officials into the outcome of the football game. Yes, the Dallas Cowboys killed themselves with a lot of penalties in really bad situations on Sunday. Like the Connor Williams hold to negate the Cole Beasley first down reception prior to the Ryan Kerrigan strip of Dak Prescott that led to a touchdown. However, you never want a penalty to decide a game.

On Sunday, the officiating crew asserted themselves to call a penalty on a play they either didn't see or didn't care about in L.P. Ladouceur's 14 year career to date. And while, Maher still could have -- and should have -- made that kick, there's no denying that the penalty had an impact on the game.

You never want to point to officiating as the reason your team loses a game, because there are always calls that go against either team that you could argue were bad calls. Unfortunately, this bad call pushed Brett Maher's field goal attempt back five yards, which had a direct impact on the game.

It may have been a penalty, it was a weak call at a really bad time for the Dallas Cowboys. With only nine games remaining in the 2018 NFL season, that call certainly hurt their chances of making the playoffs.

It's just another in a long line of officiating decisions that has hurt the Dallas Cowboys and that act is getting old.

Continue Reading

Game Notes

3 Stars from Cowboys Loss to the Redskins

John Williams



Cowboys Roster: Dallas Made Right Decisions on Unproven Skill Players

Loss. Win. Loss. Win. Loss. Win. Loss. That's where we stand after seven games with the Dallas Cowboys alternating home wins and road losses and through nearly half the schedule en route to their 3-4 record.

It was a disappointing loss after a defensive effort that held the Washington Redskins to 13 points on the day. The offense had some good moments, but the road inconsistency and penalties killed throughout the NFC East matchup. The Dallas Cowboys playoff chances took a substantial hit with the loss. With only nine games left in the season, the Cowboys are probably going to have to go 7-2 to make the playoffs.

It's not impossible they could get on a run, but it certainly looks bleak.

Before we move forward, let's look back and highlight this week's 3 Stars of the game.

First Star

Ryan Kerrigan, Washington Redskins

There were several players that gave the Dallas Cowboys offensive line fits on Sunday, but Ryan Kerrigan's strip-sack of Dak Prescott in the fourth quarter was the difference in the football game.

The Cowboys were trailing by three and after being backed up because of a holding penalty on Cowboys' Left Guard Connor Williams. Dallas was facing a 3rd and 14 at their own 10 yard line. Dak Prescott had good initial protection, but held the ball too long allowing Kerrigan to get to him, strip the ball, and Preston Smith recovered in the end zone to put the Redskins up by 10 with less than five minutes to play.

Kerrigan finished the game with five tackles (4 solo), two sacks, one tackle for loss, a pass deflection, the forced fumble, and two quarterback hits. It was a strong day for one of the longtime Redskins greats.

Second Star

Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins didn't really have a lot of offensive weapons at their disposal aside from Tight End Jordan Reed and Running Back Adrian Peterson. Adrian Peterson had a good game against a stout Dallas Cowboys run defense, which kept the Cowboys defense off-balance most of the afternoon.

His 22 carries for 99 yards may not be the best game ever, but his ability to hit some big runs early and run with consistency early in the game put the Redskins ahead of the chains. On a day when the Redskins were down three of the top four receiving targets, Peterson needed to be effective for Washington to have a chance. He was a big reason the Redskins put up the 13 points on offense that they did.

Peterson ran hard "All Day" and made life difficult for the Dallas Cowboys defense.

Third Star

Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys

After last week's performance, I wrote a piece predicting that a breakout game was imminent for rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup.

He delivered the best game of his career Sunday afternoon against the Washington Redskins hauling in three receptions on five targets for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Gallup's touchdown reception was a beautiful double move that left the Redskins corner in the dust on his way to his first career touchdown. It was a huge play at the end of the first half that put the Dallas Cowboys on the board. They hadn't really gotten much going prior to that drive. It was a nice step forward for Gallup who has been making strides since some early season struggles.

The Dallas Cowboys have needed someone to step up on the outside to take some of the pressure off of Cole Beasley in the slot and Ezekiel Elliott and the running game. With another solid performance under his belt, Gallup is proving that he is a starter for the Dallas Cowboys now and in the future.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Who were your 3 Stars of the game in the Cowboys disappointing loss Sunday?

Continue Reading

Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Redskins

Brian Martin



The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Redskins 5

Well, here we are again. The Dallas Cowboys lose another close game, but this time it might hurt a little bit more since it was to the division rival the Washington Redskins. This was definitely a game that could've gone either way since neither team played well, but in the end things just happened to go the Redskins way this time.

One or two things going just a little differently for the Cowboys likely would've been enough to secure the victory Sunday afternoon and I'm not even talking about Brett Maher's missed field goal. For instance, what if Quarterback Dak Prescott would've taken the safety instead of fumbling and letting the Redskins defense score a TD. That mistake it definitely hurt!

I could sit here and play the "what if" game with you all day, but we have nearly two weeks to do just that since the Cowboys are now on their bye week. Today, I want to share with you The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from the first of two meetings between these two teams. Enjoy!

The Good

Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

In yet another sloppy performance on the road, there was very little good to take away from the first meeting of the 2018 season between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. I think the one thing I will remember the most, in a positive way, from this matchup is Wide Receiver Michael Gallup's long touchdown pass from Quarterback Dak Prescott.

Michael Gallup continues to make plays when given the opportunity. In another offense with a better play caller and maybe even a better QB, Gallup would likely be in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year, but has failed to make much of an impact with the Cowboys so far. Hopefully that will change after the bye week though.

If I'm the Cowboys coaching staff, I'm going to find ways to get Michael Gallup more involved in the passing game coming out off the bye week. Other than Cole Beasley, he is the only one who is having much of an impact and definitely needs to see more targets. I would make that a top priority moving forward.

The Bad

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

There is so much that I could put in this section, but I think the worst thing that happened Sunday afternoon when the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Redskins was the fact that we will have nearly 2 weeks of having to listen and talk about it. For me, that is the bad!

Yes, you read that right. Now that the Cowboys are heading into their bye week, we have two entire weeks to dissect and analyze everything that has gone right or wrong this year, especially what happened against the Redskins since it's the freshest in our minds.

This was definitely a tough loss, and one that could come back and hurt the Cowboys when it comes to playoff seeding at the end of the season. Too many mental mistakes and penalties definitely assisted in the letdown, but in the end they just weren't good enough to win on the road. That's absolutely something that needs to change since they haven't won a road game all season.

The Ugly

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

I'm going to have to go with both the offense and defense for the Dallas Cowboys as the ugly against the Redskins Sunday afternoon. Neither unit really played all that well, even though they both probably played well enough to win the game if just a few things would've gone just a little bit differently.

On the offensive side of the ball the Cowboys couldn't get anything going for nearly the entire game. The Redskins did an excellent job of bottling up Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott couldn't get anything going in the passing game until the fourth quarter. They did have a few big plays called back due to holding penalties, but overall it was a pretty sloppy performance.

Defensively things weren't much better. The Cowboys have been pretty good at stopping the run this season, but for some reason couldn't find an answer of how to stop Adrian Peterson. The defense probably played better than the Cowboys offense, stopping the Redskins in the red zone on several occasions and only giving up one TD, but in the end it just wasn't enough.

What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Redskins?

Continue Reading

Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here