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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys’ Defense Silently Shined, Jeff Heath Saved The Season

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys' Defense Silently Shined, Jeff Heath Saved The Season 1

Talk about a dramatic football game. One of my favorite sayings about this sport goes "Football is a game of inches." And as Derek Carr reached for the goal line trying to end the Dallas Cowboys' season... he fumbled a tiny bit before breaking the plane, proving that football is indeed, a game of inches.

The Cowboys were able to survive the last game they had to play without Ezekiel Elliott, and their season remains alive. Whether it seems unlikely or not, at least this team will have something to play for during the next two weeks.

It may have been ugly, but a win is a win and those are not easy to get in the NFL. As they fought for survival, we learned some things about this team last Sunday night. Here is this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday!

The Coaches' Trust in Chris Jones is Awesome

Chris Jones is an amazing football player. He is a punter who can punt balls, tackle returners and be the clutch runner Dallas sometimes needs to step up. We saw it versus the Eagles in 2016, and we saw it again versus the Raiders a couple of days ago.

On fourth and eleven, Chris Jones took off and moved the chains right when the Cowboys needed a spark. Impressive, right? Well, even more impressive when you find out that Jones actually made that call by himself.

Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys' Defense Silently Shined, Jeff Heath Saved The Season

Dallas Cowboys P Chris Jones (Photo by Don Feria/Getty Images)

To be fair, that doesn't mean the coaches didn't have anything to do with it. NFL teams design and practice these plays for whenever they find themselves in certain, specific situations. Even still, a big round of applause for the trust that this coaching staff has on Chris Jones to let him decide whether to run it, or punt it.

Chris Jones is underrated. 

Jeff Heath Saved The Day... Twice

Could Jeff Heath Be The Starting Safety Next Byron Jones In 2017? 1

Dallas Cowboys S Jeff Heath

There's something about Jeff Heath. We can't deny it. Cowboys Nation jokingly refers to him as the GOAT on social media, but this guy has been clutch in more than one critical moment during his career. Heath isn't the ideal starting safety, but even if it's just a coincidence what he does sometimes is impressive.

Last Sunday, he saved the 2017 Cowboys' season in back-to-back plays.

After batting away what would've been a TD pass to Michael Crabtree, Jeff Heath hit Derek Carr as he reached for the goal line. The short-term result? A fumble and a touchback. The long-term result? The Cowboys' eight win of the season.

I hate to be the guy who says stuff like this, but it's fair to say that Heath is an average safety at best. But his ability to show up in big moments like this has been pretty impressive for a long time.

Let's keep calling him the GOAT.

Cowboys' Defense Silently Shined

The defense missed some opportunities last Sunday night, but they actually did a pretty good job throughout the game. Despite some drops on what could've been key interceptions, the secondary had a good football game. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis had a very good first half, and although they both made a few mistakes in the second half, overall they had a good night.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

Cowboys finally found a CB1 who can make plays on the ball and create turnovers. https://t.co/vAPS8p3Kyn

Even after Marshawn Lynch tried to welcome Awuzie to the NFL by running into him, Oakland's beast had no yards after contact and was stopped short of the first down.

Derek Carr only completed 21/38 passes for 171 yards and that was in big part thanks to the pressure that Dallas' front seven was able to get in. Even if they finished the night with no sacks, they were able at getting Carr out of the pocket a lot of times. Even Taco Charlton has a few nice rushes.

No interceptions, no sacks... but the Cowboys' defense made a silent impact on this week's victory.

Elliott Will Come Back Just in Time

Ezekiel Elliott's Suspension A Blessing In Disguise? 1

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Alfred Morris had some good games. Rod Smith had his moments, too. But hey, they're not anywhere close to Ezekiel Elliott's level. The Cowboys' running back committee was decent during 21's time away, but it wasn't consistent enough.

This Sunday, between Smith and Morris the Cowboys ran for only 74 yards.

With Elliott finally back, the Cowboys will be able to run the ball with confidence on third and short opportunities and they'll be able to get positive gains consistently. Forget about those no-gain carries by Morris and Smith.

The Seahawks haven't been playing quality football lately, but it's still nice to know the Cowboys have one of their best players back when they can't afford to lose another game.

It's time to feed Zeke.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys’ Defense Silently Shined, Jeff Heath Saved The Season" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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!



I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @PepoR99.

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3 Comments
  • Travis Diggs

    The more and more i watch this Awuzie kid, its a special thing brewing down in Dallas with this young defense. His instincts for the ball and his athleticism are crazy. I wouldn’t mind seeing him at Safety with Xavier Woods and moving Byron back to Corner. Either or will do, the future is bright for this young defense

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      You’re right. There are a lot of reasons to be excited about Awuzie. Same can be said about Lewis and even Woods. Great future for the Cowboys’ secondary

    • EverybodyTalks

      Amen Travis. Great draft on corners and safety. Byron at 6′!”, 203 lbs, 4.4 speed – he is a corner, it’s that simple.

Game Notes

Ezekiel Elliott Productive in Cowboys Blowout Loss to Colts

John Williams

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3 Stars from Dallas Cowboys Loss to the Seattle Seahawks

It was as ugly of a performance as we’ve seen from the Dallas Cowboys in the Jason Garrett era. For the first time in a decade and a half, the Cowboys were shut out and it was a game full of bad pretty much everywhere you looked. Everywhere accept Ezekiel Elliott.

What a waste! 

Elliott and the Cowboys offensive line played well for much of the game even with All-Pro Right Guard Zack Martin missing his first career start and losing starting Left Guard Xavier Su’a-Filo went out with an eye injury. 

On the day, Ezekiel Elliott carries the ball 18 times for 87 yards and added another seven receptions for 41. 25 touches for 128 total yards is a good game, but with nothing else going right for the Cowboys it was a game that ultimately didn’t matter. 

The one play where Elliott and the offensive line failed to come through was early in the game in a fourth and one that the Colts defense seemed to have snuffed out and blew up from the start. Elliott was able to convert a fourth and one later in the game. It looked like Elliott was close to breaking one for a long run several times but got tripped up at the end of the runs. He was his typical self this week. Taking runs that looked to be going for a loss and turning them into positive gains. 

In the race for the NFL's rushing title, Elliott has extended his lead on Todd Gurley to nearly 100 yards rushing. At 1,349 rushing yards on the season, Elliott will have a great shot to set a career high in rushing yards with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants remaining on the schedule. The Bucs have allowed the sixth most rushing yards and the fourth most rushing touchdowns in the NFL this season while the Giants have allowed the fifth most rushing yards and the seventh most rushing touchdowns in 2018.

It was a horrendous loss at a time when the Cowboys could have locked up the NFC East and there is zero excuse for it. They got out coached, out played, and were beaten physically on both sides of the ball and that doesn't happen very often, especially to the defense.

But if we're looking for something positive to take away from this game, it's that with all the offensive line injuries and the poor play of the passing game, Ezekiel Elliott and the running game continues to find ways to shine. With as bad as the loss was, that's something to hang your hat on.

All the Cowboys need to do moving forward is Feed Zeke!



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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss at Colts

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Can't Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss at Colts

What is there to say about the Dallas Cowboys week 15 performance? After five straight wins, the last three coming at home, the Cowboys have only a return home to look forward to, facing the 5-9 Buccaneers on Sunday after a 23-0 defeat at the Colts.

Shutout for the first time since 2003, the Cowboys playoff hopes didn't take a hit despite the Redskins and Eagles winning on the road. Washington's last-second win went final just before the Colts ran the clock out on a game the Cowboys simply weren't ready for.

The Cowboys moved the ball well at times but failed to ever come away with points, opening the door for the Colts to expose this defense like it hasn't been all season. The Cowboys front four was hardly a factor on defense, allowing Colts Running Back Marlon Mack to average 5.1 yards a carry. Scoring the Colts only touchdowns, Mack and Andrew Luck assured the Cowboys running game wouldn't be a factor with their 10-0 halftime lead. Down to three backups at LG, C, and RG, Quarterback Dak Prescott stood little chance to bring the Cowboys back as the second half quickly got away from Dallas.

Internally, the Cowboys will have much more to say about their effort on Sunday, but here are just a few of my observations in the first somber edition of Sean's Scout since week nine.

  • The Cowboys defensive problems up front extended well into the second level, with Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith both playing one of their worst games of the season. 

The Colts took a blocked Brett Maher field goal 44 yards for the game's opening score. Mack accounted for 34 of these yards and the touchdown. On his seven yard run to set up first and goal, Smith was caught taking a poor angle on Mack. The Cowboys were aggressive rushing up the field on the play, with Smith ending up being in the best position to slow Mack.

Vander Esch was sealed and couldn't fight to get off, which happened again three plays later on third and goal. Leighton looking like a rookie for the first time was just the start of the Cowboys problems, and with Sean Lee being active yet conceding starting snaps to him, it shouldn't take long for Vander Esch to figure things out again.

  • Jamize Olawale's dropped touchdown on third and goal to bring up a failed fourth and one was the moment the Cowboys were taken out of this game. 

This sequence was particularly deflating because the Cowboys did a great job getting down the field to have an opportunity to score. The fourth down decision to run out of a heavy formation, inviting extra defenders to the line of scrimmage, looks especially egregious when stacked against the Amari Cooper rush that picked up the Cowboys initial first down. Rookie Tight End Dalton Schultz got involved, Elliott ripped off a 24 yard run, and the Cowboys still came away empty on this drive.

A year removed from coaching the Cowboys linebackers, Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus had his way with Scott Linehan's offense all afternoon, stymieing their most promising drive after Olawale should have scored easily.

  • The Cowboys only chance to get back in the game was taken away from them by a Joe Looney holding call, just another example of players that had carried them through a winning streak not playing up to standard. 

The Colts took the second half kickoff down the field to extend the lead to 17-0. On fourth and two on the ensuing possession, Prescott hit an injured Cole Beasley for 18 yards to the Colts' 23-yard line. The Cowboys red zone offense certainly doesn't provide the confidence that Dallas would finish the drive, but Looney's hold negated Beasley's catch and forced a punt.

The Colts tacked on a field goal and finished out the game without the Cowboys threatening again. Looney played down to the level of Adam Redmond to his left, who replaced Xavier Su'a-Filo, and Connor Williams in for Zack Martin - though I thought Williams held up fairly well and should be in play to earn more snaps wherever needed.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Cowboys can regroup and still accomplish everything they set out for this season, forced to make this loss to the Colts and afterthought like their last one to the Titans became. A five game win streak as a response is out of reach, but a streak of just one is all Dallas needs to clinch the NFC East and focus on improvements for the playoffs.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss at Colts" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

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

Brian Martin

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

In a game we all hoped would clinch the NFC East division, the Dallas Cowboys instead got shut out by the Indianapolis Colts in one of their worst performances of the season. It was a deplorable performance in every aspect of the game and something we hope to never see again.

I knew sooner or later the Dallas Cowboys self-inflicted wounds would catch up to them, and that's exactly what happened against the Colts. They had far too many penalties and mental mistakes once again and it allowed Indianapolis to take over the game. The Cowboys beat themselves plain and simple.

Before I get on a rant about yesterday's game, I better stick to the topic at hand and share with you what I believe to be The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys. As always, please feel free to use the comment section located at the end of the article to share any of your thoughts and opinions on this topic.

The Good

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

In a game where just about everything went wrong for the Dallas Cowboys it sometimes a little difficult to find any kind of silver lining. That was the case this week after the Cowboys were shut out by the Indianapolis Colts. But, the good for me is that Dallas still holds their playoff fate in their hands, despite the embarrassing loss.

Any thoughts of sitting any of the starters for the Cowboys has now gone out the window. They absolutely have to play to win to close out the 2018 regular-season, because they failed to do what needed to be done against the Colts to secure the NFC East division title. Luckily though, it didn't close the door on their playoff aspirations.

With the Buccaneers and Giants left remaining on their schedule, the Cowboys will have to find some way to get back to their winning ways. Hopefully this was just the slap in the face they needed in order to put things in perspective. They simply can't afford another showing like they had against Indianapolis at any point moving forward.

The Bad

Xavier Su'a-flio

Dallas Cowboys LG Xavier Su'a-flio

I knew exactly what I was going to put in the section as soon as it happened during the game. The bad this week for the Dallas Cowboys against the Indianapolis Colts for me was without a doubt their banged up, patched together offensive line.

The Cowboys were forced to go with a patchwork offensive line for the majority of the game against the Colts yesterday afternoon after Xavier Su'a-flio left the game after an eye injury, forcing the Cowboys to go with their third string offensive guard Adam Redmond. Su'a-flio immediately had to leave the stadium to have his eye examined by an optometrist, suggesting that it was a pretty significant injury.

Unfortunately, another injury on the OL for the Cowboys leaves them severely thin depth wise at the most inopportune time. Hopefully a week of rest has done Zack Martin's injured knee some good and he will be able to return to the lineup as soon as possible. That would allow Connor Williams to move back to LG and hopefully solidify the offensive line once again.

The Ugly

Marlon Mack, Chidobe Awuzie

Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack

Maybe I underestimated the Indianapolis Colts offense or maybe I just overrated the Dallas Cowboys defense, but something was clearly off yesterday afternoon on the defensive side of the ball for the Cowboys. After being so good nearly all season, they were just plain ugly against Indianapolis.

The Cowboys defense didn't have an answer for the Colts offense, especially in the running game. Marlon Mack, a solid runner although not spectacular, completely gashed the Cowboys usually stout run defense. He ran for 139 rushing yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns, something that's been unheard of against Dallas' run D.

I was honestly completely shocked he had so much success. There were far too many missed tackles and blown assignments to my liking and I believe the coaching staff will make sure to focus on clearing that up moving forward. This team can't afford to let opposing offenses control the clock with their rushing attack. That's the Cowboys MO.

What's your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against Indianapolis?



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