The Dallas Cowboys have now managed to win two-straight games after completing sweeps of the Washington Redskins and New York Giants. With their win on Sunday, the team sits with a record of 7-6 and is still alive in the playoff race. It was a little dicey at first, but the team eventually put their foot on the gas and took charge late in the game.
There were several things to be excited about and a few not-so great moments. Here are this week’s winners and losers:
What a great game for the Cowboys running back who started the season number four on the depth chart. He made plays right out of the gate with a heads-up catch of a deflected pass from Dak Prescott and turned it into a first down. Instead of punting, the drive continued and the Cowboys would come away with points.
His biggest play came with just over four minutes left in the game and the Cowboys up by seven points. On a third-and-three play, Smith lined up as a receiver and was matched up against a linebacker. Prescott recognized this, looked his way, and the results were spectacular.
Smith would add another touchdown on the Cowboys very next possession when he took a pitch 15 yards for the score. In just over a minute, Smith had helped turn a nail biter into a blowout. He would finish with 160 total scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. After not having any touchdowns in the first 28 games of his career, he now has scored in each of the last three games.
What can you say about the Cowboys All-Pro linebacker that hasn’t already been said? After missing close to a month with a nagging hamstring injury, Lee was back on the field and he immediately made his presence felt. After averaging just over seven tackles a game this year, he would explode for 18 against the Giants.
Not only was he cleaning things up in the middle, he made a couple big impact plays as well. He had a nice arm take-down when he sniffed out an end-around which led to tackle for a loss. But his biggest play came when he intercepted a deflected pass from Chidobe Awuzie that ended any chance of a Giants comeback.
It was great to have the Cowboys star linebacker back on the field.
Fourth quarter explosion
If you were like me, you spent the majority of the game sitting in a huge pool of frustration as time and time again the Cowboys offense just couldn’t put points on the board. The Giants actually had a 10-3 lead at the two-minute warning in the first half before a big catch and run by Dez Bryant nodded the score at 10 apiece.
As exasperating as the first half was, the disappointment continued until about seven minutes left in the game. At that point the Cowboys unleashed a fury of three touchdowns in less than five minutes. It was quite the spectacle. Jason Garrett continues to preach how his team will just keep plugging away and over time good things will happen. This was on display Sunday. This is now the second-straight game in which the Cowboys have scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys struggled moving the chains early on and some of that had to do with the receivers not being able to hold on to the ball. Dez Bryant would drop two passes that hit him right in the hands. One would have converted a third down play and the other would have set up first-and-goal inside the five-yard line. Even the ever-reliable Cole Beasley dropped a pass that would have moved the chains.
Prescott ended up with a career high 332 yards, and it would have been closer to 400 had his receivers been able to haul in these passes.
Dan Bailey entered the game perfect in field goals this season. It was enough to allow him to jump Baltimore Ravens kicker, Justin Tucker for the title of “most accurate kicker in NFL history.” But Bailey would miss two field goals (albeit, both 50+ yarders) and relinquish the title back to Tucker.
His first FG miss of the year wasn’t that surprising as that’s bound to happen eventually. What shocked everyone was when he missed an extra point for the first time in his career. It was a forgetful performance for the Cowboys kicker who has missed some action this year due to a groin injury, but at least he picked a good day to have a case of the yips.
The Cowboys did their job on Sunday by beating the Giants. For the team to have a shot at post season play, the Cowboys are going to need to win out the rest of the season. Unfortunately, that alone is not enough. Dallas needs some help along the way and this last weekend didn’t do a whole lot to help the Cowboys cause.
Not getting help from teams like Minnesota and New Orleans hurt because those were both golden opportunities to give Carolina and/or Atlanta a much needed loss. Outside of the Jacksonville Jaguars beating the Seattle Seahawks, nothing else good happened for the Cowboys. Hopefully, next week will produce more favorable results.
The Cowboys are on a mini-roll now, but can they keep the winning streak going? Does the win against the Giants make you feel any better about the team’s chances to make the playoffs? Share your answer with Dan on Twitter @DannyPhantom24.