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Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly For Cowboys Against Pittsburgh

Brian Martin



Cowboys Headlines - The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly For Cowboys Against Pittsburgh

The Dallas Cowboys improved 8-1 and still hold a two-game cushion over the rest of the NFC East division with the impressive win over the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday afternoon.

What a performance! WOW!

Watching the game the only thing I could think was how the Dallas Cowboys were doing their best to try to lose the game, but the way everything ended couldn't have been scripted better if it was a Hollywood movie.

If I was physically able to jump up and scream when Ezekiel Elliott scored the winning touchdown with just seconds left on the clock, I would have. I couldn't think of a better way to end the game.

This game was incredible and is exactly what we have all come to expect when the Dallas Cowboys face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This rivalry is the real deal and seeing these two historic franchises play one another always proves to be entertaining to watch.

This week's edition of The  Good, The Bad, And The Ugly was a little more difficult than usual because I'm still riding the high of the Cowboys victory, but below is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy.

The Good 

Cowboys Headlines - The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly For Cowboys Against Pittsburgh 1I think we can all agree that the good for the Dallas Cowboys against the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday afternoon was Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott exploded for 114 yards on the ground and scored two rushing touchdowns. He also took a screen pass 83 yards for another TD and finished the night with two catches for 95 yards.

How fitting was it that Ezekiel Elliott was able to score the winning touchdown with seconds left in the game?

Elliott is still on pace to break Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record, but his performance yesterday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Steelers might have entered him into the MVP conversation as well.

What more can I say? Ezekiel Elliott is a BEAST and he proved it against the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday.

The Bad

Cowboys Headlines - The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly For Cowboys Against Pittsburgh 2

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

It was really difficult to decide what to put in this category for the bad, but I finally decided to go with the defensive performance against the Steelers.

This was really the first game the entire season that the defense for the Dallas Cowboys was exposed. It really shouldn't come too much of a surprise considering they were down two of their best defensive backs and facing a talented Steelers offense that features two of the best playmakers in the NFL (Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell).

Heading into this matchup the defense had yet to allow a 100 yard receiver or a 100 yard rusher, but Antonio Brown ended that streak, finishing the game with 154 yards and one TD.

We all know that this defense has a mentality of bending and not breaking, so I will give them credit for continuing to fight the entire game and doing enough to come away with the W.

It might've been their worst performance of the season, but coming away with the victory is all that matters.

The Ugly

Cowboys Headlines - The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly For Cowboys Against Pittsburgh 3

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Pittsburgh Steelers happened on the opening drive of the game when Dak Prescott fumbled the ball after being stripped from behind.

You may think this is nitpicking, but that particular turnover allowed the Steelers to jump out to an early lead and get the momentum in the game on their home turf. Fortunately, that turnover didn't determine the outcome of the game.

Luckily, Prescott was able to put it behind him and play an outstanding game. He finished the afternoon throwing for 319 yards and two touchdowns.

Who would've guessed that Dak Prescott would be the victor over Ben Roethlisberger in a shoot out on the road?

Prescott continues to impress and should remain the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys as long as he is able to perform like he has been.

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

Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

  • Mario Gray

    My ugly is definitely the penalties. They occurred on both sides of the ball regularly. Whether we were giving the Steelers shorter distance to get the first down or on offense making it harder to keep Dak and Zeke on the field. Those were extremely frustrating and had me hurling words at the television that I wouldn’t say in front of my mother.

    • Brian Martin

      Mario, I would definitely agree. It’s almost like they were doing their best to lose the game. Like you, I was muttering some four letter words under my breath. That is definitely an area they need to get better if they want to continue their winning streak.

  • Brian T.

    Agreed, my pick for the “ugly” is definitely the penalties. We can win a lot games as long as we don’t beat ourselves. Can this o-line win “MVP”??? I’d vote for the entire group!!!

    • Brian Martin

      Brian, I definitely agree with you that the penalties could’ve been in the ugly category. I also agree with you about the o-line beimg the MVP. In fact, that’s who I awarded the mid-season MVP in the article I wrote last week. They are not only opening up running lanes for Ezekiel Elliott, but keeping Dak Prescott upright with their pass protection.

  • John Williams

    Good: Obviously the offensive line, Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten.
    Bad: Not much. The defense did just enough against the most complete offense they’ve faced all season. Cole Beasley had some uncharacteristic drops but came through when it mattered and survived his head nearly being ripped off.
    Ugly: The officiating of the Dallas offensive line. Several holds were borderline.

    • Brian Martin

      John, I agree with everything you said. The one call I really hated was the roughing the passer call against Justin Durant. Ben Roethlisberger was outside of the pocket and scrambling when Durant’s forearm hit him in the head. There is no way that Cam Newton would’ve got that call.

  • Deon T

    The Good
    That offensive line. There were holes created by the o-line that even Zek was surprised to see! They also did a nice job of allowing Dak time to hit open targets.

    The Bad
    Cole Beasley had an off day. He dropped a couple of key passes and just did not seem too comfortable out there.

    The Ugly
    The secondary, though without two key starters, played horribly as a group. I’m not too concerned since the Cowboys were still able to get the win and the backups will play better with more reps.

    • Brian Martin

      Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment Deon. I agree with everything you said. The offensive line has been playing outstanding and Ezekiel Elliott is hardly being touched until he reaches the second and third levels. I also agree about Beasley. I’m not too concerned about him though. I know he will bounce back. I am however concerned about the Cowboys secondary. With Claiborne and Church injured they are in depth wise. I also worry about Scandrick staying healthy. I don’t think they secondary can afford another injured player.

  • Angel Medel

    The good – our oline
    The bad – our coaching decisions 3Rd and 1 and we don’t run it. THEN we decided to throw it 3 times with out taking time off going into to half and forced to punt pit comes down and gets a field goal.
    The ugly we need to attack the ball sooner them later all coaches know what I’m talking . And the refs. Boooooo.

    • Brian Martin

      Angel, thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment. There were definitely some questionable coaching calls in the game. I was really surprised that they decided to pass in some situations when they were having so much success in the running game.

  • http://yahoo Tony Tran

    The American team need to get better is defense have to get better like secondary have to cover WR good don`t let them get open and find the way to intercept and run all the way to endzone offense can find the way play big is passing, flee flicker like Roger Staubach play for Cowboys , and special team can play kickoff return/punt return big like 40-80 yards and maybe you can make touchdown but no foul that is how to win the game and go to win Super Bowl …If I coach for the team I like coach for offense/WR…

    • Brian Martin

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment Tony. I agree with everything you said.

Game Notes

Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles

Kevin Brady



Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There's no doubt the Dallas Cowboys passing game faltered in 2017. Though never expected to throw for many yards, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys failed to maximize their attempts down the stretch. The passing game was simply inefficient and ineffective.

One reason the passing game took a step back was the disappearance of slot receiver Cole Beasley. Whether you blame defenses adjusting their coverages on third downs towards Beasley, Beasley growing another year older, or quarterback Dak Prescott, Beasley simply didn't look like the same player in 2017.

In the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected a wide out who many anticipate could replace Beasley, in time. Rookie wide receiver Ryan Switzer rarely got chances to make an impact on offense this season, designated as the return man for much of the year. With Cole Beasley out for the season finale, however, Switzer got his chance to make a name for himself.

While the numbers were far from gaudy, Ryan Switzer showed some things we should be excited about for the future.

dalvsphi2018 switzer - Streamable

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Ryan Switzer's first target came on a third down -- something Cowboys Nation should get used to heading into 2018. Switzer is lined up inside in trips on the near-side of the formation. The Eagles show man coverage pre-snap, and with just one safety over top and the other rotated down on top of Jason Witten, it is clear to Dak Prescott they plan to bring some pressure.

As soon as Prescott gets the snap, his eyes go to Ryan Switzer.

The cornerback plays Switzer with inside leverage, refusing to be beat with a hot slant route. Switzer instead keeps the defender on his back hip and creates separation with an out-breaking route.

Prescott delivers the ball towards the sideline where the defender can't catch up to it, and Switzer comes away with the first down.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 2 - Streamable

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Later in the game, we once again see Ryan Switzer targeted from this inside-alignment.

Switzer is a pretty prototypical slot receiver, and if used correctly he should win in man coverage situations often. The cornerback attempts to maintain inside leverage on Switzer and get physical at the top of his route. Ryan Switzer does a nice job of fighting through that physicality and crossing the defender's face over the middle. He flashes open pretty quickly, and Prescott delivers a strike for the completion.

If Switzer can create this type of separation often, I see no reason why he shouldn't be a focus of the offense in 2018.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 3 - Streamable

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Switzer's third target is actually an incompletion, but it is worth studying, regardless. Switzer is in the slot on the far side and the Cowboys once again are in trips alignment. The cornerback over Switzer is in man coverage, but gives him room to breathe at the line of scrimmage.

Switzer exploits the cornerback -- who is cheating to the inside -- with his footwork and route running. He gets to the sticks, breaks to the outside, and creates enough separation for a first-down completion. Prescott delivers the ball a bit late and behind Switzer, causing an incompletion instead.

I'd still like to see Switzer adjust to the ball and make this catch, but I put more of the blame for this play on Prescott.

With a full offseason to work within the offensive system, as well as to develop chemistry with quarterback Dak Prescott, Ryan Switzer will prove to be an important piece to the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.

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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game

Mauricio Rodriguez



Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer's Good Game 1
AP Photo / Michael Ainsworth

The Dallas Cowboys put an end to a long, long season last Sunday after they defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia in a game that had absolutely no meaning for either team. Surprisingly, the Cowboys played with their healthy starters most of the game, but were barely able to put six points on the board, which were enough to take the win home.

The Cowboys might've lost more than what they actually won, and most of the fans were unhappy with the victory. Despite it being a pretty boring football game, we still learned a few things about the Dallas Cowboys.

The season's finally over. It wasn't easy, but we're still here. Here's to 2018. Let's hope it's a good one for our Cowboys. Here's this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday!

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Coaching Staff Didn't Help Its Cause

It's more than fair to say that a lot of us want to see changes in Dallas. And specifically, changes in the coaching staff. After the Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention, Jerry Jones said Jason Garrett's job was not an issue. Now, Jerry's even talking about Rod Marinelli and Scott Linehan being back in 2018. Who knows if it's true.

While I don't think we'll see a new head coach anytime soon, I'd dare say that after the horrible game versus Philadelphia the front office at least got to thinking.

Dak Prescott, Jason Garrett

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, HC Jason Garrett

Coming into this game, the team had a choice to make: play with the starters to win it, or let guys like Cooper Rush in the game and see what happens. A loss would've meant a better draft position for the Cowboys and a chance to see what rookies and other young players could bring to the table.

But they decided to manage the game like it was a "real action" game. Being conservative. Not going for it when there was nothing to lose. They did so after a team that, with the NFC's #1 seed secured, basically played with its B team. Not only that but for the Eagles, most of the game was played by a third string QB.

Despite all this, the Cowboys could hardly beat the Eagles 6-0. Poor execution and all, I can't help thinking about the coaches.

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Cowboys Should Keep Datone Jones for 2018

In late November, the Dallas Cowboys signed Datone Jones after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers. The former Packers' first-round pick made an impact when he was given the chance. His play at DT was pretty solid and he showed very promising flashes.

DatoneJones - Streamable

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Jones will be under contract in 2018 and I'd be surprised if the Cowboys don't keep him another year. Per Over The Cap, he'll be paid $790,000 next year which isn't at all expensive for a 27-year-old player.

The Cowboys would add depth and even a potential starter at DT for next season.

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Ryan Switzer Can Play as a Wide Receiver

With Cole Beasley missing the game because of an illness, we finally got to see Ryan Switzer at WR. We had already seen good things from him as a kick returner, but on offense, he hasn't been as involved as Cowboys Nation expected him to be.

Last Sunday though, Switzer was used for more than a jet sweep.

SwitzerWR - Streamable

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He still has a long way to go, but I was impressed by his ability to create separation. I really hope he's used more next season.

At the end of the day, he's a fourth-round pick. He should be playing more on offense, not just on "gadget plays" or special teams. Could Ryan Switzer be Dak Prescott's best friend in the future? Only time will tell. Right now, it's too optimistic to expect something like that.

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Dan Bailey's Confidence is Shattered

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey's 2017 season hasn't been easy at all. We've seen him miss kicks we never imagined he would, including extra points. One of the most painful moments of the Cowboys' season came late in the season finale when he lined up to kick a simple 20-yard field goal.

The ball went up, but failed to split the uprights. Dan Bailey stood in complete disbelief, with a blank look in his face. His confidence, shattered.

For kickers, it's all about confidence.

For years, we referred to Dan "Automatic" Bailey as the most accurate kicker in NFL history. Now we're not sure about calling him "Automatic" anymore. Bailey will have a lot of time to pick himself up though, and will probably be back at it next year.

Let's hope that's the case.

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For now, the only thing left to say is one of the most encouraging, yet sad phrases in sports... Maybe next year. We're on to the offseason.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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!

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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: Cowboys Starters Produce Uninspiring Week 17 Win

Playing more than enough of their starters in hopes of ending this 2017 season on a high note at the Eagles, the Cowboys produced a lackluster 6-0 win that will surely leave a bad taste in the mouths of Cowboys Nation - despite it being a victory.

The win put the Cowboys at 9-7 on the season, and it is a shame they had nothing to play for in this regular season finale. Once again in week 17, it was the offense holding back another fantastic performance by Rod Marinelli's defense.

We'll discuss both units in this final 2017 Dallas Cowboys version of Sean's Scout.

  • You have to love the way Chidobe Awuzie was able to bring physicality to a young Cowboys secondary that had another solid game. 

There were times earlier in this season when it seemed the Cowboys' second-round pick would have a lost season due to multiple hamstring injuries, but Awuzie quickly tuned around his rookie campaign by coming in and playing with exceptional technique and awareness.

With enough length to turn and run, Awuzie thrived in this zone scheme by keeping everything in front of him, as he did on his interception of Nick Foles. With Dallas in Cover 2 on the play, Chidobe read Foles' eyes the whole time to the boundary and was in position to cut off the pass.

This is a topic we'll now have much more time to discuss, and it is a hollowing one considering it was truly the Cowboys offense that kept them from the playoffs this season. The need for new talent at WR is clear, but the need for a target that better suits Prescott's strengths going into year three is even more important.

His pass catchers, along with inconsistencies in pass protection, were the main reasons Prescott struggled in 2017, although in this game it seemed like the only time he was affected in the pocket was when forcing the ball late to Bryant.

Coming from a spread system in college, Prescott simply does not have experience throwing his receivers open -- relying on route combinations and separation ability to hit open targets. Dez Bryant hasn't been that type of player through his career, and certainly isn't now that he's lost a step.

  • 9 wins for a team unlike their usual selves up front offensively is still pretty impressive. 

The Cowboys got nearly no impact from any of their free agent signings this season, which is why the depth of the team held them back once again. Veteran Byron Bell was brought in as a backup swing tackle, but he is simply not a scheme fit at tackle here.

Dak Prescott should not have been playing with Bell as his LT, and eventually Joe Looney at LG after Jonathan Cooper went down.

Bell lacks the quick-twitch ability and athleticism needed to be successful on every down, and it showed as he was again beaten by both speed and power against the Eagles.

The Cowboys have proven their acumen drafting young OL talent that performs at a high level early and often. So, instead of relying on more free agents, like Bell and Looney, drafting talent up front to spark the running game and give Prescott adequate protection is likely the best answer.

  • Ryan Switzer's ability to separate late in the down really stood out, as he finally got his chance at WR without Cole Beasley

Growing calls for more of Ryan Switzer on offense will surely take root this offseason after he caught four passes for 32 yards in the absence of Cole Beasley yesterday. More of a one-speed player at North Carolina, Switzer's spacial awareness and smoothness in giving Prescott somewhere to throw the ball as plays developed was really impressive.

In order to be a great team at the NFL Draft, you have to accurately scout your own roster. It will be fascinating to see just how the Cowboys feel about their current pass catchers, with not only Ryan Switzer but the likes of Lance Lenoir and practice squad addition K.D. Cannon in the fold as well.

  • The Cowboys found themselves a valuable addition to their rotation at DT with Datone Jones. 

Jones was able to push the pocket throughout this game in Philadelphia, and has done so consistently since getting here, at both the 1T and 3T positions. Using his hands to generate power as a down-the-line player, Jones plays with great pad level. That allows him to shoot gaps when needed, or anchor the line of scrimmage.

The Cowboys have not prioritized adding premier talent at DT in recent years, and may forego it again this offseason as well. The Cowboys expect Maliek Collins to contribute further with another season at 1T and David Irving back at 3T.

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To everybody who made this 2017 season at Inside The Star as enjoyable as ever, I would like to thank the readers of Sean's Scout. All this aspiring scout can ask for is to enhance the fan experience through both wins and losses, and your feedback on this series helped me to confidently do just that.

As we prepare for an even better 2018, Sean's Scout won't be going anywhere! I'm shifting my full attention towards the NFL Draft, looking for prospects that could help the Dallas Cowboys reach the playoffs again next season.

Thank you for another roller-coaster ride we call football season, Cowboys Nation. Truly the best fans anywhere.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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