The Cowboys kicking game was the deciding factor in their week one loss at Tampa Bay, but Greg Zuerlein's 56 yard field goal as time expired in Los Angeles on Sunday sent the Cowboys home at 1-1 with a win they earned without several starters.
Coming into the game, the biggest mismatch for the Cowboys should have been Terence Steele at RT against Chargers DE Joey Bosa. Steele held up well in his second game replacing La'el Collins, and Kellen Moore's game plan didn't allow Bosa to wreck the game.
Here are a few other takeaway's from the win that ties the Cowboys atop the NFC East with the Eagles and WFT.
- Not only did the Cowboys block Joey Bosa well to give Dak Prescott time to throw, but they used their speed on the edge to get Bosa in space. Tony Pollard carried the ball 13 times, just one shy of his career high from week 17 of 2019. Pollard scored the Cowboys first touchdown on a jet sweep where Bosa rushed hard inside, creating space for Pollard to follow a CeeDee Lamb block into the end zone. Dalton Schultz was also used in motion to block Bosa, allowing the Cowboys to keep their pass catchers on the field while still holding up in protection.
- Trevon Diggs continues to impress with his ability to take the ball away, something the Cowboys have not had at cornerback in a long time. The best trait a CB can have is the ability to put a negative play behind them, and that's exactly what Diggs did against Keenan Allen in the first quarter. One play after Allen got behind Diggs for a 22-yard catch, Diggs undercut his crossing route for the takeaway. Keanu Neal was also in on the play, dropping to the right depth in coverage so Diggs could trail Allen.
- With Micah Parsons moving down to defensive end to help replace DeMarcus Lawrence, the Cowboys needed their LB depth to step up. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch both looked like veteran starters at times, making tackles in space against the Chargers quick passing game. Dallas held LA to a field goal after Dak Prescott's interception thanks to a third down stop from Smith. Lined up over the center with Neal, Smith dropped into coverage and ranged to his right to catch Austin Ekeler at the line for no gain.
- The Cowboys made it clear throughout training camp and the preseason that Jayron Kearse would have a role on this defense, and he stepped up in this game. Kearse made plays on the second and third levels, and had an interception taken away by a questionable pass interference penalty. Even when Donovan Wilson is ready to play again, I expect Kearse to be on the field – especially if Parsons continues to play well at defensive end.
The Cowboys will begin their NFC East schedule next Monday against the Eagles. Through two weeks, they've proven to be flexible in their game plans with the bigger picture of a 17 game schedule in a weak division in view. This win against the Chargers wasn't the cleanest, but building on it to put a complete game together in their home opener would build momentum.
The Eagles lost to the 49ers 17-11 at home on Sunday.