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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys’ Issues Underrated, Coaching Must Improve

Mauricio Rodriguez

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It wasn't easy to watch. The Falcons beat the Dallas Cowboys by 20 points, handing America's Team its fourth loss of the season. Without a doubt, this is probably the worst loss of the year for this football team.

You could argue the blowout at Denver felt worse at the moment, but last Sunday's defeat could've killed the hopes we all had on the 2017 Cowboys.

Now at 5-4, with a few NFC teams rising and competing for the Wildcard spots, Dallas has almost no room for error. In a season where they need to win just about every single game left on their schedule, the Cowboys will miss Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Sean Lee and Dan Bailey for a few weeks.

After the Falcons game, a huge part of Cowboys Nation was left with a lot of questions. Just like in every loss and every victory, it's important to learn from experience.

Here is this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday.

Without Sean Lee, Winning is Impossible

We were all concerned about not counting on Ezekiel Elliott to be on the field for a long time and now, it seems like the least of the concerns in the heads of Cowboys fans... and rightfully so.

Once again, the Cowboys will have to play without the guy who is arguably their most valuable player after Dak Prescott.

Sean Lee's Absence Leaves Huge Hole

Without Lee, this defense crumbles completely and with reports stating that the team expects their LB to miss the next three games, things are not even close to being "promising." We've seen what happens when Lee isn't healthy.

Jaylon Smith has proven many times now that he isn't ready to be playing starter snaps in the NFL yet, but the Cowboys may not have a choice. Probably, LB should be a top need for this team in 2018.

Tyron Smith Is Even More Valuable Than What We Thought

Well, let me start off by apologizing. Before Sunday's game, I wrote about how Chaz Green would do fine for the Cowboys in Atlanta. Clearly, I was more than wrong.

In 2016, Chaz Green filled in for Tyron Smith in two games. One versus the Bears, the other against the 49ers. Green proved capable of doing a decent job covering the LT position and naturally, I thought he could pull it off.

I'm sure I wasn't the only fan who thought of this, which is why not many fans were that preoccupied with 77's injury.

SackDak - Streamable

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But, you know the story. Dak Prescott ended up being sacked eight times in total, and six times by Adrian Clayborn. To add perspective, Clayborn is only the fourth player in NFL history to record at least six sacks in a single game.

If Smith isn't ready to go next Sunday, it will be a long day for Dak Prescott, for Byron Bell didn't do a good job either.

Coaching Must Improve

Jason GarrettI always hesitate to blame coaching after a team loses. And I won't put the blame exlcusively on them, because that would be wrong. At the end of the day, they were missing their All-Pro left tackle, their defense centerpiece, their super kicker and their star running back.

However, there're things this coaching staff could've done to change things up.

For starters, Chaz Green should've left that field way before he did.

But why didn't they at least lend him a hand by sending the RB or a TE to block with him every passing play? Why not change your personnel groups when you're not working offensively? Why not try to roll Dak out a few times? Why keep giving the Falcons' receivers the amount of cushion this defensive backs did?

I'm not a Jason Garrett hater. But sometimes it feels like this coaching staff is too stubborn to change things up in a game to try to turn things around.

Dak Prescott Is Still Playing Great Football

On a positive takeaway, I wanted to mention Dak Prescott.

Every time a football team loses, most of the people will blame the coaches and the quarterback. Surely, that was the case this Sunday for Prescott even though he was sacked eight times and pressured just about... every play of the game.

But, man, is Dak Prescott impressive. In more than a couple of plays, Dak did some impressive plays.

Dak1 - Streamable

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It's difficult to compliment a QB when he was only able to lead his offense to a TD in a 21-yard drive. However, this loss falls on Green's shoulders.

When he wasn't pressured, and even in moments in which he was, Dak shined and had a lot of amazing plays. Unfortunately, his performance wasn't reflected on the scoreboard or on his team's performance.

Cowboys Woes Are Bigger Than We Realized

Let's take a look at some facts...

  • The Cowboys started the season 2-3.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles have only lost one game all season.
  • The Cowboys lost Dan Bailey, Sean Lee (twice) and Tyron Smith to injuries.
  • Ezekiel Elliott is currently serving a six game suspension.

As Cowboys fans, we always have hope on this Cowboys football team. And after winning three in a row, things were looking good. We overlooked the fact that Ezekiel Elliott was suspended and that Tyron Smith would miss a game to a lingering injury.

We thought "We'll be fine, this team is awesome." I think we were right to feel that way.

Conspiracy Theory: NFL Referees Are Out To Get Cowboys?

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Now, things have changed. Little by little, we're realizing that we were underrating the issues surrounding the Cowboys. To be honest, I would be impressed if this team makes it to the playoffs if Sean Lee and Tyron Smith continue to miss games.

Once again, the adversity that the Cowboys are facing is huge. They're sitting at 5-4, in the hunt for a Wildcard spot. No Zeke, no Lee, no Bailey and possibly no Smith. As they get ready to host the Eagles next Sunday Night, things are not what Cowboys Nation wanted.

Having said that, the Dallas Cowboys are my biggest passion, and I won't ever stop rooting for them. Win, lose, or tie, Dallas Cowboys for life!

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys’ Issues Underrated, Coaching Must Improve" 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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9 Comments
  • Matthew Mabrey

    by the title picture on this article the refs missing 5 obvious facemask calls needs to improve….

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Yup, definitely.

  • Ruben Aguilar

    Time for a new coaching staff. Jason Garrett has had plenty of time going 13-3 a few times and just can’t get us over that hump. Our coaching staff doesn’t adjust properly and Chad was getting eaten up but as a coach you would have helped him.

    • http://www.dallascowboyschat.com Cowboysdude

      He didn’t got 13-3 until they brought 3 former HC’s in basically do his job for him…… It’s not only time for him to go he shouldn’t have gotten the job to begin with…. but Al Davis Jr will defend him they’ll blame this season on missing players and the circus will go on meanwhile they are wasting yet another somewhat talented team on a guy that they call a “HC”……It’s pretty obvious the owner cares nothing about fans..why? Because like lemmings they just keep bringing him their cash..

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      I’d de open to changing the coaching staff, although I don’t necessarily think they should fire Garrett. But it’s an intriguing situation and will likely be a cool story once the offseason is around.

  • http://www.dallascowboyschat.com Cowboysdude

    This organization is a joke. Not geared towards winning …geared towards $$$$$..winning is just a bonus. They need a REAL HC, but they refuse to do anything about it. The same sound bites over and over again yet nothing changes…. They have NO idea how to develop players …matter of fact they had a PERFECT opportunity to turn one of the three first round running backs into more draft picks but they didn’t trade any of them….. instead they stock pile players while their lack of decent backups shows yet again….. they put all their eggs in one basket ‘hoping’ it’s enough. So let me refresh….Lack of a real coaching staff compounded by no depth…. equals…..they’ll be watching from home again….. so 22 years later and still nothing…. that should tell the fans that the owner really doesn’t care about winning……

    • Datschu

      Dude you’re just now realizing all of this? Lmao…
      Dallas Cowboys in a nut shell…
      Few mediocre seasons… followed by a terrible season… obtain a last place division schedule… win division with 12-4,13-3 record… lose first playoff game…
      Next season mediocre… followed by mediocre season… followed by terrible season… obtain last place schedule…. go 12-4,13-3 following season… lose first playoff game….

      ITS BEEN THIS WAY FOR 20+ years! They WASTED Tony Romos career!
      The guy was so exciting to watch and such a breath of fresh air after years of failed miserable qbs after Troy…. he deserved a better orginization to support him

  • Ervinlang318

    Anytime your Head Coach CLAPS after a penalty against his own team there is something seriously Wrong. He may come from a Coaching Family but they are all Mediocre. His father went 0-10 at Columbia, 39-11-1 at Susquehanna University. On Jasons watch as QB Coach the Dolphins was 13-19. QB’s had 41TD’s and 42 INT’s. Somehow he became a Offensive Coordinator after this.

  • Mauricio Rodriguez

    It was ridiculous.

Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Dak’s 1st Loss at Redskins Leaves Cowboys Losers Before Bye

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Dak's 1st Loss at Redskins Leaves Cowboys Losers Before Bye

The Dallas Cowboys went in to Washington losers of their last three road games this season, in position to change that behind Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott's previously undefeated record against the Redskins. In the end, the ball was ultimately taken out of their hands as the Cowboys played for overtime, watching their effort come up short again with Brett Maher's miss from 52-yards out.

As was the case two weeks ago in Houston, the Cowboys multitude of errors have been focused into one play, with L.P. Ladouceur becoming the scapegoat for his penalty that pushed back the Cowboys final field goal attempt. With an unmanageable 14 days before their next game, the real issues inside this Cowboys team have plenty of time to surface, as enough were on display Sunday for Dallas to miss out on another shot at the division lead.

Here's a look at my initial notes from this Cowboys loss, sending them into their bye week at 3-4 and 1-1 in the NFC East.

  • This was yet another game where the Cowboys dealt with the ups and downs of rookie Left Guard Connor Williams.

On the same drive that Prescott left the field to be checked in the medical tent following a big hit out of bounds, Michael Gallup was able to provide a spark with a 22-yard gain on a perfect strike from Dak.

Williams helped make the play possible by holding off a bull rush from Daron Payne. The Redskins feature both Payne and his former Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen at defensive tackle. They ensured the Cowboys would get nothing going on the ground in this game.

Five plays later, Williams would be called for a chop block that put Dallas behind the chains. The drive stalled and the Cowboys punted, which was a much better result compared to Prescott's attempt at overcoming Williams' holding penalty in the fourth quarter.

Erasing a first down to Cole Beasley, Prescott ran into pressure in his own end zone on third and long, inexcusably fumbling the ball for an easy Redskins recovery and touchdown.

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

Y'all are really going to make me do this... okay. Here we go. https://t.co/awNm55TxnH

  • Michael Gallup finally scored his first career touchdown, and has to be asking himself if they can really be so easy, as he ran wide open down the left sideline to score from 49-yards out.

Gallup sold his route brilliantly, getting his defender to bite hard on the stop route before releasing over the top. Even with some pressure in his face, Prescott delivered a perfect pass that allowed Gallup to walk in.

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

I truly love me some @michael13gallup. https://t.co/KEjh9BDUPS

Give credit to the receivers around Gallup for setting up this play. Allen Hurns caught five passes, his most in a game for the Cowboys, many of them coming on the same route that Gallup faked before running vertical.

The Cowboys have deserved criticism for their lack of route designs on the outside, but when they execute well enough to win as they did here, it's easier to see the trust that remains in this team for Scott Linehan as their play caller.

It's unfortunate we didn't get to see Prescott throw at least two more passes down the stretch. Beasley was having his way with a depleted Washington secondary, and with a timeout in their pocket the Cowboys could have worked the middle of the field to attempt a winning touchdown.

Instead, their tying field goal attempt left them with plenty to think about over the bye, including if the kick would have been good from 47-yards out.

  • The Cowboys red zone defense stood tall once again, keeping the Redskins out of the end zone both times, including at the start of the third quarter thanks to a DeMarcus Lawrence stop on Adrian Peterson.

There were plenty of plays in this game where the Cowboys made Peterson look a few years younger, but the timeliness of DeMarcus Lawrence's splash plays against the run were all they needed to get the Redskins off the field in big spots.

It's not often we talk about a defensive end being clutch, but that's exactly the type of player the Cowboys have in their franchise left end.

Instead of going up 14-7 and forcing a Cowboys three-and-out on the next series, the Redskins 10-7 advantage would stand through the third quarter. These three points came on a 21-yard Hopkins field goal, set up by Lawrence screaming off the edge on third and a yard to plant Peterson for a loss of two.

  • This play may get lost in the shuffle when breaking down the Cowboys miscues for a whole extra week, but one that will stick with me for a while is Prescott's missed swing pass to Elliott.

As Tony Romo was keen to point out on the call of this game, Prescott left plenty of throws on the field, including one to Gallup on his decisive fumble. Where most of these missed chances were passes Prescott didn't pull the trigger on, the one he did against the blitz that resulted in an incomplete pass to Elliott was stunning.

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

How does this happen? Seriously. How? HOWWWWW?!?! https://t.co/40V9Jx5EEP

The Redskins had scored their first touchdown of this game by throwing to their running back against the blitz, and the Cowboys could have been set up to do the same if Elliott catches this ball on first down.

The clock was a factor at this point, as the Cowboys took another 20 seconds to score on a third down rush by Prescott. The Redskins failed to take much time off the clock on their next series, with Alex Smith going out of bounds on third down.

The Cowboys' final drive began with 1:09 remaining, and it's anyone's guess as to how the game would have ended if they had just a few more seconds to manage.

  • The Cowboys were without Tavon Austin, taking away their outside threat in the running game, and turned to Cornerback Jourdan Lewis to handle their only jet sweep of the game.

The Cowboys knew Lewis better than most teams in the 2017 Draft, the cornerback out of Michigan that never carried the ball in college. The Cowboys had a few options in replacing Austin if they wanted his speed threat to remain in the game, instead doing away with most of these plays.

Instead of Deonte Thompson, Rod Smith, or even Beasley handling this role, the Cowboys ran one jet sweep to Lewis for seven yards.

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

So I'd wondered if we might see Zeke as the jet motion/sweep guy with Rod Smith at RB sometime. But CB Jourdan Lewis? Interesting. Creative. I like it. https://t.co/KC3pZL1glI

Lewis has been getting more involved in Kris Richard's defense, and it was certainly different to see him used on offense for the first time.

  • The Cowboys welcomed back Sean Lee in this game and proceeded to allow over 100 rushing yards for the first time since week three - Lee's last game prior to Sunday.

In no way are the Cowboys a better defense without Lee, but they would be wise to spend a significant portion of time over the bye week figuring out their linebacker rotation with Lee, Jaylon Smith, and Leighton Vander Esch.

Vander Esch was the Cowboys leading tackler coming into this game, and a huge reason why this defense held the Lions, Texans, and Jaguars in check without Lee. Playing 21 snaps against the Redskins to Lee's 38, there were snaps where LVE was noticeably missing.

The Cowboys have allowed at least 100 yards on the ground 72 times since Lee's arrival in 2010, playing to a 23-49 record in these games. In the 63 games they've held teams under 100 rushing yards, the Cowboys are 48-15.

This makes getting to the bottom of how Adrian Peterson was able to go for 99 yards at 4.1 yards per carry a key for this Cowboys defense by week eight - where they'll attempt to keep an offense that can hopefully find answers of their own in yet another game, this time on Monday Night Football against the Titans.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The feeling that the Cowboys have already missed on enough opportunities to contend in the NFC East this year will be hard to shake as the Cowboys return to Dallas on Tuesday at 3-4. This won't stop these players and coaches from doing everything they can to get back to .500 and remain in the hunt at 4-4.

In a league where fortune favors the bold to go above eight wins, the Cowboys will have to wait even longer than their 14 days between games to prove they're not another 8-8 Jason Garrett team. With poor coaching decisions and a quarterback incapable of overcoming them, the Cowboys remain in the midst of an identity crisis at week eight, thanks in large part to the left upright at FedEx Field.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Dak’s 1st Loss at Redskins Leaves Cowboys Losers Before Bye" 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

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

John Williams

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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, ESPN.com

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 https://t.co/Cv8Ugwb99p

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. https://t.co/kc10gtMJ11

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.



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Game Notes

3 Stars from Cowboys Loss to the Redskins

John Williams

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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?



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