The Dallas Cowboys came out on Sunday and did what we were all hoping they would do. They capitalized on every red zone opportunity and put up their sixth-straight 28+ point game. The defense made some great stops against an explosive Kansas City Chiefs’ offense.
When it was all said and done, the Cowboys would win 28-17 and now sit with a 5-3 record at the season’s halfway point. There were many things to be excited about and some things that weren’t so pleasing to the eye. Here are this week’s winners and losers:
One Cool Cat
It never ceases to amaze me how the Cowboys new franchise quarterback continues to deliver for this offense. Dak Prescott can beat you in so many different ways. His mobility is such a luxury to have as he always seems to take off running at most opportune times in the game. He’s hard to catch. In fact, only Drew Brees has been sacked fewer times than Prescott.
Last season, he broke the Cowboys franchise record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a season with five. He’s already gotten five this season and he’s only half way through it. One of the biggest plays of the game came when he scrambled out of the pocket and hit Terrance Williams for a 56-yard completion down the sideline, setting the offense up with a first and goal with 30 seconds left in the half.
But to truly appreciate the passer that Prescott is, look no further than the play that happened right before the big pass to Williams. On a 3rd-and-15 deep in their own territory, everyone expected them to play it safe and throw short over the middle.
Tony Romo even offered his thoughts on what play the Cowboys might call in this situation when he said, "Usually inside the 20-yard line, he (Garrett) likes to hand it off. He trusts this offense, but not inside the 20 normally. We will see if in this case he changes."
Well, what happened next came as a surprise as Dak threw a perfect strike to Dez Bryant for a big gain. The confidence the coaches have in Prescott was on clear display as he was given the green light to make that pass. Time and time again, the Cowboys young quarterback delivers.
Believe it or not, the Cowboys defense has played great for three straight games. Against San Francisco, nobody gave them much credit because the 49ers were a winless team with a terrible offense. Against the Washington Redskins, they faced an offensive line that was beat up so people didn’t think much about that either. But against the third highest scoring team in the league – people now have to acknowledge that this defense is playing well. Romo agrees.
"That narrative that this Dallas Cowboys defense is bad is slowly going away." -- #Romo— Mark Lane (@therealmarklane) November 6, 2017
The Chiefs have a lot of offensive weapons. Tyreek Hill is an electric playmaker. Kareem Hunt is having an outstanding rookie season as he came into the game as the only player to break the 1,000 yard mark in total scrimmage yards. And Alex Smith was making a push for early MVP consideration as he entered the game with 16 touchdowns and no interceptions.
But despite all the offensive firepower, the Cowboys defense did a great job defending these weapons. The defense had a great game plan and was disciplined enough to execute it. With all the misdirection plays and fakes the Chiefs like to do, the Cowboys defense never got caught chasing the ball.
Hunt was held to 37 yards on nine carries. Hill only had two catches in the game. And Jeff Heath would jump in front of Travis Kelce to give Alex Smith his first interception on the season.
It was a great collective effort by all position groups. This is a good sign, Cowboys fans.
Over the years fans have been vocal about their disdain for Cowboys fifth-year receiver, Terrance Williams. Whether it’s a costly drop or forgetting to run out of bounds, there have been some head-shaking moments that have attributed to him falling out of favor with the fan base.
It’s easy to undervalue Williams. Not many people recognize what he does in the running game as he’s an exceptional blocking wide receiver and consistently produces on a weekly basis. Those type of things do not show up in the stat line. But when he has nine catches for 141 yards, fans take notice. It was an impressive game for Williams and he was particularly effective getting yards after the catch. He even deliberately fell on the ground to avoid going out of bounds, only this time it was a smart play that kept the clock running.
Cowboys Prevent Defense
If you remove that last play debacle at the end of the first half, it would have felt like the Cowboys completely dominated the Chiefs. This play was one of the few blemishes in an otherwise great defensive performance. The Cowboys have been in this situation before and have handled themselves well when they have had so many defenders stacked back near the goal line. Against Pittsburgh last year, using the same type of defensive arrangement, they were able to corral Antonio Brown before he got anywhere close to the end zone.
While the defensive set up wasn’t the issue, the effort the players made to stop Hill was dreadful. The Cowboys needed to attack the play, but most of them just treaded slowly and let the action come to them. By the time they knew what had hit them, it was too late to do anything about it. It was a lousy effort by too many players and completely let the air out of any momentum the team had worked hard for two quarters to create.
The Cowboys safeties have made two big late-game interceptions in each of the last two contests that have sealed the victory. Last week, Byron Jones had a pick-six against the Redskins and Heath this week against the Chiefs. It’s a welcoming sight to see them both make plays, but both these guys have had their moments of struggle this season.
On Sunday, it was Jones that had some mental miscues that hurt the team. First, he got called for a personal foul for his out-of-bounds contact on the Chiefs kick returner. And then, a couple plays later, he got called for unsportsmanlike when he took off his helmet after the botched Hill touchdown play. Both these penalties gave the Chiefs a total of 30 extra yards. And on the first drive of the second half, he wasn’t able to fend off Kelce for a touchdown in the corner of the end zone that gave the Chiefs the lead and made us all have to witness a ridiculous potato sack race touchdown celebration.
It was a frustrating day for Jones and he needs to work on his mental toughness because these types of mistakes can really hurt his football team.
It was so great to hear Romo broadcast the game and the Cowboys even paid homage to their beloved quarterback with a nice tribute video for him before the game. Who doesn’t love Tony? Well, apparently Deion Sanders doesn’t after the former Cowboys cornerback got his feelings hurt from a comment Romo made during the game.
Romo said “Marcus Peters makes Deion Sanders look good at tackling sometimes.” Now, anyone that follows football knows that Sanders was a terrible tackler and comments of this nature isn’t sharing with the world what we don’t already know.
But Sanders took offense and would have some choice words for Romo, bringing up his playoff record, bragging about his own gold jacket and even attempted to antagonize by saying, “Dak says hi.”
The Cowboys are on a roll right now after three straight wins. Do you see them as legit playoff contenders now? Share your answer with Dan on Twitter @DannyPhantom24.