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Week 2 In Review: Cowboys Secondary Stepping Up To The Challenge

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When the season began, the Cowboys faced many questions on defense.  A big chunk of the season was going to be played without pass rushers DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory due to their suspensions, and even though middle linebacker Sean Lee was healthy, Rolando McClain was also lost to another suspension.

With the uncertainty in the front seven and what it would mean for the pass rush, it was hard to know what to expect from the Cowboys secondary, despite all of the obvious talent they have.

Two weeks into the season, the unit has shown they are up to the challenge of carrying the defense when they have to.

Even though they opened the season with a loss to the Giants, all-world receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. was held to 73 yards and no touchdowns. Veteran and borderline top-tier quarterback Eli Manning was held to just 207 passing yards.  These impressive numbers were accomplished while one of the unit’s best players, Orlando Scandrick, nursed a hamstring injury he aggravated during the game.  Even with the injuries he’s been playing with, Scandrick had a sack and forced fumble against the Giants.

In week two, the Redskins' potent passing offense came calling and even though Kirk Cousins threw for over 300 yards, the secondary made plays when they absolutely had to have them.

With the Cowboys clinging to a 27-23 lead late in the fourth quarter, a coverage mix up between Byron Jones and Brandon Carr allowed a 57-yard strike to Josh Doctson.  However, the drive ended when Barry Church stepped up and made a game-saving interception in the end zone.  

This turnover helped the Cowboys hold the Redskins to just two for six in the red zone, a huge improvement from the prior week when the Giants had gone three for three in that situation.


Forcing turnovers early in the season is definitely a welcome sign after the Cowboys, who were ranked dead last in takeaways last season with 11. While the optimism around the secondary may be new for some, it comes as no surprise to Carr.  

Back in August, he was confident in the group because they had returned to full health after a 2015 season which saw Scandrick, Morris Claiborne, and Church on injured reserve at some point.  The optimism for the unit also comes from depth they haven’t had before, including a pair of impressive sixth round draft picks.

Moving forward, the Cowboys schedule doesn’t exactly boast a ton of potent passing offenses (beyond Pittsburgh, Green Bay and the rematch against the Giants) and to attempt to ensure continued success, players, and even coaches, are stepping up.  

Against the Redskins, it was journeyman linebacker Justin Durant - who was steps away from retirement but returned to the Cowboys just days before training camp - who made the game-sealing play, knocking a fourth down pass away from Pierre Garcon.  

The coaches, not to be outdone by their players, are doing all they can to find ways to win with the front seven they’ve got, including making some key substitutions that garnered positive results against the Redskins.

While their early trends aren’t a guarantee of season-long success, the optimism surrounding the Cowboys secondary is certainly warranted.


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Game Notes

DAL 37, PHI 10: Cowboys Correct Course by Crushing Eagles

Jess Haynie

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Randall Cobb, Eagles
AP Photo/Ron Jenkins

The Dallas Cowboys will need plenty more games like this one to undo some of the damage from their recent three-game losing streak. But with a 37-10 rout of the division rival Philadelphia Eagles tonight, Dallas took a big step toward redemption and restoring order in their season.

The game got ugly in a hurry for the Eagles, who fumbled on their first two possessions and set the Cowboys up for touchdowns on each. Philadelphia would answer with a score on their next drive to make it 14-7, but it was all Dallas from there.

It was a joint effort from all parts of the Cowboys roster tonight. Ezekiel Elliott had 111 yards rushing and another 36 receiving, plus one touchdown on the ground. Dak Prescott threw for 239 yards and one score and ran for another touchdown.


Dallas' defense limited Philadelphia to just 283 total yards. DeMarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, and Jourdan Lewis each recorded sacks while Xavier Woods had a rare interception for the Cowboys secondary.

Even special teams contributed; Brett Maher nailed a 63-yard field goal to end the first half and made his two other FG attempts as well.

The Eagles were missing several key players on both sides of the ball, giving them a bit of an excuse for how lopsided this game got. But with Dallas now getting bye week rest while Philadelphia has to stay on the road in Buffalo, is this the beginning of the end for the Eagles' season?

Other Notes

  • Amari Cooper led the receivers tonight with 106 yards on five catches. He did not appear to be hampered by any injury despite our worries earlier in the week.
  • Maher's 63-yard field goal put him in the NFL record books as the only kicker to ever hit three career FGs from 60 or more.
  • Prescott's 21st career rushing touchdown broke Roger Staubach's record for most all-time rushing TDs by a Cowboys quarterback.
  • Some negative injury news coming out of the game; Leighton Vander Esch (neck) and Robert Quinn (ribs) both had to leave and didn't return. No word yet on severity for either, but hopefully the bye week is all they need to recover.
  • Jeff Heath was also shaken up toward the end of the game but appeared to be okay on the sideline.
  • No injury setbacks for any of the Cowboys' previously concerning players. Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Tyron Smith, and La'el Collins all made it through without incident.
  • Dallas now gets a long rest with the bye week and their next game not coming until Monday, Nov. 4th, against the New York Giants. While the Cowboys are healing up, the Giants will be traveling to Detroit next Sunday.


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Game Notes

DAL 27, PHI 7: Cowboys Winning Every Phase, Build Big Halftime Lead

Jess Haynie

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Report: Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott Agree in Principle on Contract Extension

The Dallas Cowboys certainly heard about Doug Pederson's win guarantee, but did anyone tell Pederson's team? The Philadelphia Eagles have fumbled and flopped their way into a 24-7 halftime deficit in this pivotal Week 7 rivalry game.

Two early fumbles by Dallas Goedert and Carson Wentz helped set up the Cowboys for short fields and touchdowns. Dallas has scored points on all but one of their drives in the first half.

Ezekiel Elliott is on pace for his best game of 2019 so far. He has 65 rushing yards and another 25 through the air, with one touchdown coming on the ground.

Dak Prescott has been sharp with 161 passing yards on 15-of-20 passing. He connected with Blake Jarwin on the team's second touchdown of the night.

Dallas' other touchdown came on a pretty toss play to Tavon Austin, who used his athletic skills to juke one Eagle and then outrace the rest to the endzone.


Brett Maher finished the half with an amazing 63-yard field goal. He also made one from 26 yards earlier.

Standouts on defense so far include DeMarcus Lawrence, who is playing up to his verbal response to the Eagles' head coach earlier this week. We've also some big plays from Maliek Collins, Jourdan Lewis, and Robert Quinn.

Leighton Vander Esch had to leave the game with a neck injury and is questionable to return. Hopefully, the Cowboys won't need him.

Great start by the good guys! Let's keep it going!


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Game Notes

Eagles @ Cowboys 2019: Gameday Inactives for Both Teams

Jess Haynie

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Seldom-Used CB Jourdan Lewis Could Play Big Role Against Saints

Kickoff between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles in Week 7 of the 2019 season is almost upon us. The teams have now officially declared their inactive players for tonight, and the Cowboys' list comes with many sighs of relief.

After a week of worrying that several starters and other key players could miss this pivotal game, Dallas should have most of them on hand.

David Helman on Twitter

Cowboys inactives: Devin Smith, Anthony Brown, Luke Gifford, Adam Redmond, Brandon Knight, Justin Hamilton, Dorance Armstrong.

Losing Anthony Brown, who is essentially a starter as the nickel corner, isn't great. But it will mean more playing time for Jourdan Lewis, and to some that could be a blessing in disguise.

Not on this list are Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Tyron Smith, La'el Collins, and Byron Jones, all of whom had concerns earlier in the week about their availability to play.


As for Philadelphia, their inactive list features several key names

Jeff McLane on Twitter

Ronald Darby is active for the #Eagles. Rookie Shareef Miller active for the first time. The inactives for tonight's game against the Cowboys: DeSean Jackson, Avonte Maddox, Darren Sproles, Nigel Bradham, Nate Herbig, Jason Peters, Tim Jernigan.

You can read more analysis of the Eagles' missing players here. But just to summarize, that's two offensive starters(Jackson, Peters) and three from the defense (Jernigan, Bradham, Maddox) who won't be playing in Dallas tonight.

Will these injuries decide the game? Will Dallas take advantage or will Philly overcome?

We're about to find out!


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