The Dallas Cowboys exorcised some Lambeau Field demons on Sunday when they beat the Green Bay Packers, 30-16, only they didn’t need Tony Romo and Dez Bryant to do it. The Cowboys jumped out in front early and never let up.
While the offense would rack up the points, it was the defense that surprised people with another strong performance. The Packers wouldn’t find the end zone until midway through the fourth quarter. After winning five straight games, the Cowboys now are tied with the second best record in the league.
What stood out on Sunday?
Have yourself a day, David Irving
This game was laced with great individual defensive performances, but the splash plays made by defensive lineman, David Irving was just incredible. In just 19 snaps, he would wreak havoc in the second half. Irving would force three fumbles, two of which were recovered by Dallas, and one of which was recovered by him. After the Packers had first and goal on the two yard line, Irving would strip Aaron Rodgers and have enough awareness to jump on it. Thanks to Irving, the Cowboys would thwart off a great scoring opportunity for the Packers.
Irving would have two more strips late in the fourth quarter. First, he got his mitts on the ball, knocking it out of Rodgers hand again, but a Green Bay offensive lineman would scoop it up. Then, on the very next play, Irving would strip Ty Montgomery. The Packers would not recover this one.
And if that wasn’t enough, Irving would deflect a pass on a third down play that forced the Packers to settle for a field goal. For a guy who only played 19 snaps, he sure made the most of his opportunities.
Cole Beasley makes you look ridiculous
With Dez Bryant missing his third straight game, the Cowboys would lean on their next best receiver, Cole Beasley. The fifth year receiver is having a great season as he’s on pace to almost double his career high in receptions, yardage, and touchdown. Jason Garrett will tell you he’s such a difficult cover, and he’s not lying. Packers’ defensive backs were stumbling all over the place after getting lulled to sleep thinking he’s not much to deal with.
Dak Prescott: "Cole Beasley is always open." pic.twitter.com/VJg2yPsR5W— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 17, 2016
Careful. He’s sneaky.
What happened to that stellar Green Bay run defense?
The Packers went into this game allowing a league’s best 171 rushing yards over their first four games of the season. They are not the league’s best anymore. Dallas would rush for 191 yards on the day, including 157 from rookie, Ezekiel Elliott.
Many people wondered who would blink first with the top rushing defense facing the top rushing offense. Well, wonder no more. Like they do so often, the Cowboys offensive line would dominate the trenches and their talented running back would take full advantage.
Zeke would have to grind it out at times with some dirty yards, but he would also have five runs of 10 yards or more. And it’s not just what he does with his legs. Elliott showed his football IQ by sliding to the ground and avoiding going out of bounds to keep the clock going. How many rookies do that?
The offensive playcalling was more than just Lucky
Only three teams in the league are averaging over 400 yards of offense per game and Dallas is one of them. The offense continues to roll week after week as they have now had four straight games with over 400 yards of offense. And they come at you in so many ways. Scott Linehan called a brilliant game as he had the Packers guessing wrong so many times on Sunday. It is no secret that defenses will try to cheat in the box as they sell out to stop Zeke, but the Cowboys are making them pay dearly for those decisions.
Lucky Whitehead would catch the Packers defense over-committing to stop Zeke, not once, but twice. Late in the second quarter, the Cowboys were just trying to get to halftime with a 10-6 lead. Green Bay would stop Elliott on two straight runs and used their timeouts in an attempt to get the ball back for one final drive. But then Lucky would take the ball on a jet sweep and race 27 yards down the sideline. Just like that the Cowboys were in business and would score two plays later when Dak Prescott hit Brice Butler for 20 yard touchdown.
But Lucky would strike again in the second half. Dallas would have another crucial third and short and once again the Packers went all-in against Zeke. Dak would run a nice play-action and hit Whitehead for a 35 yard gain. Five plays later, the Cowboys would score another touchdown when Dak found Beasley to put the game out of reach.
Sunday's standout players
The Cowboys defensive line still struggles to generate a pass rush, but the play of Terrell McClain has been remarkable. Each week he is showing up. He blows up the middle regularly and has a big impact on getting key stops. He had a nice play on third down to force Green Bay to kick a field goal on their opening drive and he shoved a lineman into the backfield, tripping up Eddie Lacey behind the line of scrimmage.
While Dak and Zeke are the rookies that grab the headlines, Cowboys corner, Anthony Brown is playing extremely well so far this season. He was second behind Sean Lee with 11 tackles, with the next player only having five. Brown got to his guy fast and did a great job wrapping up.
Barry Church picked off Aaron Rodgers and leveled Jordy Nelson, jarring the ball loose. Those were two big splash plays for the Cowboys veteran strong safety.
What were they thinking?
It wasn’t a perfect game by any means as the Cowboys would have some bad moments as well. Dak Prescott would finally throw his first career interception when he missed Jason Witten and threw it right into the arms of Morgan Burnett.
Right before Dak’s first pick, Brice Butler dropped a deep pass that would have put the Cowboys in Packers territory. Those things happen, but Butler would also have bonehead block in the back penalty that nullified a great third down play by Beasley. It had no impact on the play and Butler needs to be more disciplined.
The Cowboys struggled getting their players on and off the field and Aaron Rodgers would go after them. Twice the Cowboys were penalized for not getting the changes made in time.
Who was the standout players from Week 6 by your estimation? Share them with Dan on Twitter @DannyPhantom24.