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Cowboys Best & Worst Moments At Halfway Point


Eight games down and nine to go for the Cowboys, who enter this week's bye.

Since there are technically 18 weeks of the season and this is Week 9 of the NFL, this counts as the halfway point.

The Cowboys are 6-2 and there's no one that could've predicted this, especially after the disastrous Week 1 loss to the Bucs that also included key injuries to stars such as Dak Prescott.

But Cooper Rush and the offense kept it together on offense while Micah Parsons and his crew wrecked shop on defense.

This team has come together and now the Cowboys are getting themselves in a position to dream big about this 2022 season.

Our staff writers have picked their best and worst moments so far with an eye on the second half of the season.

Best Moment:

Patrik: It would easy for me to give this honor to a very deserving defensive player - of which there are many I could choose from - but nothing ranks higher than Jake Ferguson snatching ankles in Philly to get the first TD of his NFL career.

Nick: Week 2 is always a huge game for every team because it shapes the season. So the Cowboys' fourth-quarter drive with Cooper Rush to beat the Bengals is the moment. When Brett Maher drilled the field goal, it seemed to answer a ton of burning questions with one play, and set this team up for a big run.

Mickey: Let's go with the final minutes of the 22-10 victory over the LA Rams, who were facing a third-and-13 at the Dallas 25, Malik Hooker closes out that drive with a goal line interception and then with the Rams driving again, facing a second-and-seven at the Dallas 28 with 1:39 remaining in the game, Micah Parsons, Mr. Clutch, sacks Matthew Stafford, forcing a fumble Sam Williams recovers to preserve the victory.

Worst Moment:

Patrik: Run back the film on the Week 1 loss to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers and you'll see a laundry list of moments that qualify here, but when Dak Prescott fractured his thumb in the process of the humiliation, well, that was a very real kick in the Corn Flakes.

Nick: For me, it occurred in the locker room after the Bucs loss. I'm standing there and I see Dak Prescott with a huge cast on his thumb, talking to Connor McGovern (walking boot) when Jayron Kearse limped by them both to the training room. After the terrible loss on the field, that moment right there, I was thinking about this team having a very high draft pick in 2023.

Mickey: The Cowboys scored 17 consecutive points on the road to cut Philadelphia's 20-0 lead to 20-17 with 14:39 left to play. But of all things, that defensive backbone allowed the Eagles to drive 75 yards in 13 plays for what turned out to be the game-clinching touchdown in their 26-17 victory.

Biggest Surprise:

Patrik: Two words: Cooper Rush. It wasn't long ago that Rush was out of Dallas after being passed over for Andy Dalton, and the jury was out on if he could avoid making mistakes that might torpedo the year without Prescott. He went 4-1, however, and that's all I have to say about that.

Nick: Based off my worst moment, it has to be the fact Cooper Rush was able to win four straight games and had a chance to rally them against Philly. Never did I think he was capable of igniting a QB controversy of any kind. The fact that it was almost a thing, is surprising enough.

Mickey: Got to be the addition of a guy my size, Ka'Vontae Turpin, an undrafted rookie, who didn't play four full seasons of college ball at TCU, kicked around for three years in alternative leagues, comes in after training camp had begun and has turned into one of the best return men in the NFL. Who would have thunk it.

Needs Improvement:

Patrik: I believe Johnathan Hankins will help to shore up the run defense - the only weakness in the otherwise impenetrable Cowboys defense, as will the acclimation of Damone Clark, but until it all comes together this will be the most glaring point of contention for me.

Nick: It has to be something offensively. And that's hard to say after the Cowboys scored six offensive TDs last week. But there are tougher defenses than the Bears out there and this passing game must find some consistency, especially at wide receivers. It starts with CeeDee, but these guys need to be consistent playmakers.

Mickey: The run defense must improve, ranking 25th in the NFL, giving up an average of 135.1 yards a game. Opponents have rushed for at least 117 yards in six of eight games, with the Bears totaling a high of 240 yards. Mobile quarterbacks have created the biggest problem for this defense.

Best Rookie:

Patrik: So let me get this straight: Tyler Smith didn't take a single (not one) snap in training camp at left tackle, spent the entirety of camp and preseason at left guard, was thrust into the LT1 role due to Tyron Smith's injury and is [mostly] playing like an impact veteran? Enough said.

Nick: Great options here for "honorable mentions" such as Ferguson, Turpin and Bland, but it's got to be Tyler Smith. This kid spent the entire offseason learning guard – only to be moved to tackle to replace Tyron Smith. And now, we're not really sure what's gonna happen when the future Hall of Famer comes back? Yeah, that's a great start for young, Tyler.

Mickey: No sense overthinking this. Tyler Smith has started every game at left tackle, replacing the injured Tyron Smith But, remember, he worked all training camp at left guard before Tyron suffered his injury on Aug. 25. Also, left tackle is one of the toughest positions to play, usually facing the opponents best pass rusher. Has he been perfect? Not really. But Tyler hasn't caused a huge problem on the offense and has been quite bullish run blocking for the NFL's 11th best rushing offense.

Best Special Teams Player:

Patrik: The obvious answer here might be KaVontae Turpin, but I'll throw a curveball here (for fun) and go with Dorance Armstrong. For not only is Armstrong delivering a career-best season on defense, but he also has two blocked field goals this season. Armstrong is chaotic.

Nick: No one loves watching Turpin more than me. And I can't remember a player that excites the crowd as much as him. But the answer for me is Brett Maher. Yeah, no one was excited about the Cowboys picking him to be the kicker. He's made everything except a pair of 59-yard kicks.

Mickey: Has to be kicker Brett Maher, who had to win a three-man kicking competition during camp to earn a spot on the Cowboys roster, and then won that two-man battle for the job. And what does Maher do in eight games? Nails 15 of his 17 field goal attempts, the two misses coming from 59 yards, but hitting four other 50 yarders.

Best Offensive Player:

Patrik: With so many hiccups on offense over the first half of the season, the one consistent has been the run game but that's also due to the unshakeable ability of Zack Martin. The future Hall of Famer is still the best player on offense, for me, especially tasked with leading an O-line that is otherwise insanely young.

Nick: Would like to argue with Patrik on this, but can't. It's Zack Martin for sure. No one has been as steady as Martin – not just this year but the last eight seasons to be exact. The Cowboys have seen QB1, RB1, TE1, WR2 and LT1 all miss games this season. Martin has been his usual All-Pro self through it all.

2nd Best Defensive Player:

Patrik: You know, few players have been as maligned by the fanbase and certain factions of the media as DeMarcus Lawrence has been - most lacking the understanding of why ALL disruptions matter. Lawrence is wrecking shop in 2022, and it's helping to make everyone else on the D-line better.

Nick: I can't remember many players who were All-Pros that I felt were underrated. But that's Trevon Diggs. For some reason, he doesn't get enough credit, yet he's having a phenomenal season. No, the picks aren't there like last year, but he's a penalty away from having four right now, which would tie him for the NFL lead.

Mickey: This is a tight call between Leighton Vander Esch and cornerback Trevon Diggs. I'm going to go with Diggs, and get it, he only has three interceptions after last year's 11, but his coverage ability has become more consistent, giving up far fewer big plays. And some of his pass breakups have occurred at critical junctures in tight games.

Favorite Micah Moment:

Patrik: Oh man, this is like choosing a favorite child. At the risk of recency bias, though, I'm going with Parsons scooping up the fumble forced against the Bears by Leighton Vander Esch and taking it to the house for his first-ever NFL touchdown, because making history matters.

Nick: So many to pick from. But what about the Rams game? He was limped around with strained groin and we're thinking he could be out. Then he runs out there and gets two sacks to put the game away and ends up winning NFC Defensive Player of the Week, basically for one half of great football.

Mickey: Would like to say the minute he steps on the field in any game. But just has to be the huge play he makes in the Detroit game, with the outcome in balance, when the Lionbacker reversed field from a pass rush, recognizing that a screen pass was occurring behind him, yet chased down Detroit tight end Brock Wright to make the tackle at the Cowboys one, the Lions then fumbling the ball away on the next play.

Don't Forget About ...

Patrik: Sam Williams. The rookie fifth-round pick was being mostly overshadowed by his fellow first-year teammates through the first six games, despite flashing at times, but his coming out party against the Lions (2 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR in only 12 snaps) was a jaw-dropping performance and it makes you wonder what he could do as an eventual starter for Dallas.

Nick: This schedule isn't as easy as it once looked. There are 10 other teams in the NFL with 5+ wins right now and the Cowboys play four of them, including two on the road (Vikings, Titans). The winning pct. of the Cowboys' opponents in the first eight games was .508 (31-30). But in the next nine, it's .544 (37-29-2). So there's plenty of work to do.

Mickey: The Cooper Rush to CeeDee Lamb combo in consecutive games to basically pull out two victories in Dak's absence. The first occurred in the Cowboys' 23-16 victory over the Giants with the game tied 13-13. Lamb makes a spectacular catch to give the Cowboys a 20-13 lead with 6:12 left in the game. And then the next week against Washington, with the Cowboys lead just 15-10 heading into the fourth quarter, Rush and Lamb hook up for a 30-yard TD pass to basically ice the game. Clutch!