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Eatman: After Being Stunned Before Half, Cowboys’ D Was Simply Stunning
ARLINGTON, Texas – Real quick, rewind yourself about 48 hours and honestly play this quick.
What unlikely occurrence will take place Sunday against the Chiefs?
A) Chiefs rookie RB Kareem Hunt will be held to 37 yards.
B) The Chiefs will connect on a “Screen Mary” before halftime for a TD.
C) Jeff Heath will come up with Alex Smith’s first pick of the season.
D) Taco Charlton will get his first career sack.
E) The Chiefs will only drive the field for 10 legitimate points against the Cowboys.
Seriously, if you had to pick only one, I might not have been too surprised about B. Obviously, the way it went down was crazy, but those other options don’t seem too realistic either.
So the answer? It’s F, of course. All of the above.
And that’s how these Cowboys were able to beat the Chiefs Sunday, 28-17, in impressive fashion.
I’m not a math wizard by any means, but some kind of formula that says A+C+D+E is always greater than B.
Sure, the offense played very well. Dak Prescott was amazing as a thrower and runner. Zeke was Zeke and those complimentary receivers had a superb afternoon.
But the Cowboys are 5-3 because of this defense – a defense that nearly became the laughing stock of the NFL had it not rallied in the second half to stop the bleeding.
Let’s be honest, that was a horrific end to the first half. I typically don’t like to blame the coaches too often because I feel like the players get all the praise for the good plays, so they must be accountable for the bad ones.
But that one starts with the coaches. You could tell from the press box it was a bad alignment. They don’t need six players on the goal line with about 50 yards of open field. With that, it’s going to come down to athlete vs. athlete and Tyreek Hill is so dynamic, he’s better than two or three guys in the open field trying to tackle on a play they probably rarely practice at all.
It was awful and it seemed like the type of play that would kick-start the Chiefs to a big second half. As it turned out, it kick-started them for one more touchdown.
But that was it.
How many times have we seen a terrible play by this Cowboys defense lead to about four others? Not this time and you have to credit that unit for rallying back.
So where does it start? It starts with the running game, of course.
The Cowboys are 5-3 overall. That’s also the same percentage of games in which the Cowboys’ allow a 100-yard rusher.
Coincidence? Definitely not.
The Cowboys are 0-3 when they allow a 100-yard rusher this year. And they’re 5-0 when no opposing back gets to that mark. Sounds simple enough.
But this wasn’t just any back. This was the NFL’s leading rusher heading into the game. But Kareem Hunt managed just 37 yards on nine carries, and had only 24 more in the passing game. He was pretty much a non-factor when he’s probably going to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. But not off of this performance.
The Cowboys’ defense rallied to the ball all game, led by Sean Lee, who was credited with 12 stops, including two behind the line of scrimmage. If I had to guess, I would’ve said it was around 17, which might be the number he ends up with after the Cowboys’ coaching staff grades the film.
Lee helped make sure those runs didn’t get too far into the open field, and that defensive line filled the gaps as well.
Don’t forget the secondary made a ton of plays. We were all worried about the speed of Hill and the dynamic playmaking ability of Travis Kelce, who had seven catches for 73 yards. But it wasn’t too problematic. Other than Hill’s touchdown, he caught one pass for eight yards.
Don’t look now, but this isn’t just a pretty good defense, but perhaps one of the better units in the league. The Cowboys are starting to get sacks, turnovers and third-down stops – all in one game.
When that happens, 28 points on offense is more than enough, even against one of the NFL’s best teams.
Hey, who knows what’s going to happen next week with the Cowboys. They’ve got all kinds of injuries on offense, and not to mention the latest installment of the Zeke news.
But I know this: When they get to Atlanta next week, there will be more confidence in this Dallas defense to make plays. They’ve been doing so now for three straight weeks. Read