(Editor’s Note: The 2018 Cowboys were able to overcome a slow start to the season and not only make the playoffs, but win a game in the postseason. As the team looks to improve on that success, the writers of DallasCowboys.com will look back at last year, picking a positive and a negative from all 18 games that might be something to either build on or correct as we head into the 2019 season.)
Wild Card: Cowboys 24, Seahawks 22
Encouraging: In every level of football – from the Pop Warner leagues to the NFL, controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball is usually the first indicator of success. The Cowboys were able to run the ball effectively, and stopped the run as well, making Seattle a one-dimensional team. While the Cowboys were able to do that to a few teams throughout the season, doing it in the playoffs against a 10-win team, and a team that already run the ball successfully against the Cowboys back in Week 3, was quite an accomplishment. Also, Russell Wilson is considered one of the NFL’s most dynamic players and he was held in check for most of the game.
Alarming: The Cowboys were once again burned on a couple of big plays by Tyler Lockett, who had a 53-yard reception and a 52-yard kickoff return. Another season-long trend that revisited the Cowboys was the red-zone struggles. Dak Prescott threw an interception in the end zone to K.J. Wright in the fourth quarter but the defense was able to give the offense the ball back for another score. But allowing some big plays in the passing game and failing to score in the red zone nearly cost them a playoff win.
Divisional: Rams 30, Cowboys 22
Encouraging: The Cowboys fans that nearly made it a neutral site? That was impressive but unfortunately for the Cowboys, they couldn’t really take advantage. There weren’t a lot of standouts in this game but heading into the 2019 season, the team has to be excited about the play of Michael Gallup. He finished his rookie season with his game of the year, catching six passes for 119 yards – both career highs. And Gallup came up with a couple of big catches in the third quarter when the Cowboys were desperately trying to get back in the game. His over-the-shoulder catch was one of the highlights of the season and helped keep the Cowboys alive.
Alarming: Let’s go back to the Seattle playoff win, when the Cowboys were able to run the ball and stop the run. Well, it was the exact opposite just a week later as the Rams completely manhandled Dallas on the line of scrimmage. Los Angeles ripped through the defense for 273 rushing yards and didn’t allow Ezekiel Elliott to get to 50 yards on the ground. Without the ability to run the ball or stop the run, the Cowboys virtually played from behind the entire game. Heading into 2019, this game against the Rams should be a wakeup call for both the O-line and D-line on how much improvement is needed, especially considering some of the stout defenses such as Chicago, New England, New Orleans and yes, the Rams again, will be on the schedule.