Not every game is going to be easy. Not every game will be the kind that a team leads from wire to wire. There are going to be games for all good teams where everything goes wrong, nothing goes according to plan and you lose in all three facets of the game. But the ability to win those games is what truly shows the identity and character of a team. If you ask anybody in the Dallas Cowboys’ organization, that’s exactly what they will say about Sunday’s win over the Eagles.
They will all agree that it was their most impressive win of the season.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the Cowboys’ winners and losers after film study:
It was nice to see Bryant return to the lineup and make plays. However, you could tell that he missed multiple games. The connection with Dak Prescott was off early, as the the rookie quarterback peppered him with targets. Prescott looked for number 88 fourteen times, but they only completed four passes. Still, Bryant’s four catches were game-changers, including his touchdown to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.
Dez looked rusty, but you can see how much he can add to the offense. On his touchdown, he adjusted well to a poorly thrown ball and caught the ball in double coverage. Bryant has a knack for making big-time plays in the game’s most critical moments. It’s not a coincidence that whenever Prescott felt pressured or needed to convert on a third down, he looked Bryant’s way. Bryant still doesn’t look 100% — he still runs with a slight limp — but he’s back and the Cowboys are a more dangerous team with him in the lineup.
I can fully admit that I was not a fan of the Cowboys selecting a running back in the top five of the draft. However, after every game, I’m loving the pick that much more. Elliott has had some better stat lines in the past, but this game was the reason Dallas drafted him. Elliott made numerous plays that went beyond the box score, but helped Dallas pick up the win. His effort on the third and short in overtime to get them to a manageable fourth and short was unreal. How long Elliott will be able to keep up this pace or how long his body will last is in question, but he is a special, elite player and he’s truly the catalyst of this team. Please go re-watch the game and focus on Elliott.
He was that good on Sunday.
In real time and on the broadcast, it’s very difficult to study offensive linemen. NBC did a pretty good job at showing the audience some of the more dominant plays from Tyron Smith on Sunday, but let me say this; Smith was nothing short of spectacular on Sunday. John Owning highlighted some of Smith’s success on Sunday versus Conner Barwin, all which you can see here.
I wouldn’t necessarily call Prescott a “loser” on Sunday, but his performance versus the Eagles was easily his worst of the season. Prescott was just off nearly the entire game. His footwork got lazy and the ball started to sail high on him. He wasn’t seeing the field clearly as he missed Cole Beasley multiple times in the middle. In the first half, only Bryant and Elliott had receptions and he didn’t complete his tenth pass until the fourth quarter. His red zone interception was one of the worst picks of the year. He threw the ball high and late, two absolute no-no’s for any quarterback in the end zone. But give him credit, he made some big plays in the fourth quarter and in overtime to make up for his mistakes.
Claiborne played well, but the game was a perfect encapsulation of his career in Dallas: Flashes of brilliance and a terrific player when he’s healthy, but he’s probably always going to miss some games throughout the year. Claiborne hurt his groin late in the fourth quarter and didn’t return to action. The Cowboys’ defense is severely going to miss him during his absence and will have to alter their game-plan weekly without him. Claiborne loses here because he was on the verge of a Pro-Bowl year during his contract year and likely lost millions of dollars due to this injury. Just bad, bad luck for Morris.
This was easily the unit’s worst game of the season. It started off with a Lucky Whitehead fumble after taking the ball out of the end zone and only getting to the ten yard line. The Cowboys had multiple penalties and miscues and nearly lost the game because of this unit. The only positive was Chris Jones’ fake punt which led to a field goal. Other than that, a very forgettable day from the Special Teams.