1) It took a little time, but give Darren McFadden credit for the way that he finished the game. I didn't feel like that his start was all that great and he might have been tentative, but injured groin and all he was exactly what this team needed in that five-minute drive to seal the game. When he had to hit the hole and make the tough yards to gain first downs and work clock, he was up to the task.
2) Is it was nice to see Tony Romo once again back under center. Where this team missed him the most was his ability to control the game with the way he manages it. How he handles the huddle, communicating with center Travis Frederick and working to get his teammates in the best position to have success, that was an area this offense badly missed. Although all of his throws were not as pretty as some games we have seen before, the ones that he was able to get off were clutch.
3) Dez Bryant drew the difficult assignment of having to work against cornerback Brent Grimes. Early in the game, I thought that Grimes frustrated him a bit. It took Bryant some time to figure out how Grimes was going to play him. Bryant's body language wasn't the best, but then he was able to get things going and he was back on point. His crossing route on the touchdown was a red-zone play that he and Romo hit in their sleep. Romo knew exactly where he was going to be.
4) Ndamukong Suh was not nearly the factor that I thought he would be. He is going to make a play or two and usually on the move, but I thought guards Zack Martin and La'el Collins more than held their own. The plan of long drives and keeping him on the field appeared to work well for the offense.
5) When I go back and study the tape – and I am going to show you on my breakdown – the best running plays that the Cowboys had against the Dolphins were weak-side runs where the strength was set opposite of where the ball went. Both McFadden and Robert Turbin hit some runs out of this scheme.
6)Other than the opening drive, I never felt like Miami running back Lamar Miller was going to hurt this Dallas defense, either on the ground or as a receiver. Rolando McClain, Tyrone Crawford and Nick Hayden were on the screws, technique-wise. This Dolphins offensive line run-blocks a lot like the Eagles, without much power, and those guys took the fight to them all day.
7)Coming into this game, I told you that the Cowboys had to find a way to make Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill play fast on third down, and they did. The Dolphins are one of the worst teams in the league when it comes to that, and with combination of pressure and coverage, Tannehill couldn't handle it. The Dolphins were 1-of-10 for the day on third downs, which was exactly what the Cowboys had to have happen. They were able to get off the field, and that saved them from being taxed on this humid day.
8)This wasn't Tyron Smith's best game as a pass protector, although Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon is a good player and a difficult edge rusher to handle. With Vernon, you get a player who can attack your technique much like what Greg Hardy does for the Cowboys. I am interested to study the film and see how Vernon broke Smith down on pressure. It's not often that you see a defender capture the edge on Smith like Vernon did. I'm sure there was a technique breakdown or two.
9)Jarvis Landry is a fine receiver and Byron Jones learned that in this game. I was surprised that Landry was able to separate from him on that 47-yard pass that led to the tying score. It looked like Jones missed him coming off the line and didn't have the catch-up speed to rally on him. It was a nice route and a pretty throw by Tannehill for the completion. I will say that I thought that Jones did battle his rear off the entire day, despite that pass.
10) Robert Turbin is what Christine Michael wasn't. This offense needs a smart, tough, downhill finisher and that is what Turbin is. There is no dancing to his game. He takes the ball, finds the hole and runs until he hears glass break. For him to step in with limited practice and play the way he did tells you a lot about the player and how he fits in going forward.
11)Four different Dallas defenders were credited with sacks or half sacks. I thought the pressure was outstanding, and from field level on that final Dolphins drive, it was relentless. Greg Hardy was able to get Jack Crawford home on his sack, which was an area where these guys were struggling. This was finally a game where the stunts really started to pay off, and this is an area I know the coaches were looking for improvement.
12)After all those storm clouds, it was finally nice to see the sun. Congrats. Enjoy this one because we are back at it in a few days.