Defensive tackles are rarely noticed at all. Their job is to clog up the middle, take on double-teams and just be as disruptive as possible. Ratliff has a way of doing both. He was quite impressive Monday night against the Eagles, posting five tackles, a sack, one tackle for a loss and two quarterback pressures. Oh yeah, and he just so happened to come up with possibly the biggest play of the game when he recovered the Eagles fumble with less than nine minutes remaining in the game. The turnover not only halted Philly's drive, but ignited one for Dallas, who marched down the field for the winning score. While the Cowboys will certainly keep rotating defensive linemen, Ratliff is almost getting to a point similar to Ware. Now, I said almost. But honestly, the Cowboys are having a hard time getting him off the field. He's too valuable as a pass-rusher to be out of the game on the dime, but he's playing the run so well, that he might just be playing his way into an every-down player, despite the team's depth on the line.
A month ago, Burnett was having his seventh surgery of his four-year NFL career. This one was nothing too serious, just a routine scope of his left knee. The concern is that the injuries are starting to pile up fast for Burnett. However, so are his special teams tackles. Have you noticed Burnett has compiled consecutive games of three tackles on the coverage units? Six in two games is better than pretty good. It's really good and it's also good to see Burnett relish his role as a special-teams star. You know he wants to be a starter, but is simply going about his business. Wade Phillips made sure and pointed him out during Tuesday's press conference, citing his play not only on special teams but as the dime-backer in the dime defense. In limited action, Burnett finished with six tackles against the Eagles.
Ok, so he wasn't splitting the uprights to win the game like he did a year ago in Buffalo. But the second-year kicker was steady in keeping the Cowboys in the game with a couple of important field goals, including one just before the half. The Eagles had gone up nine but the Cowboys came right back, thanks to a long pass from Romo to Witten. Folk ended the half with a 51-yard field goal to cut the lead to six and allow the
Cowboys' fans to breathe a little easier. After both teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, Folk cut the Eagles' lead to three with a 47-yard kick early in the fourth. He might have hovered the upright on his kicks, barely squeezing them inside, but they all count the same. And with a four-point win, they proved to be critical.
The rookie cornerback seemed like he was playing with more confidence than he has shown, even dating back to the preseason. That was evident by his first-quarter pass deflection when it appeared he was beaten for what could've been a long touchdown. Instead, Jenkins cut in front of a streaking Greg Lewis to bat the ball away. Jenkins played mostly in dime situations at right cornerback, replacing Anthony Henry, who slides over to a safety position in that defense.
"Yeah, Jenkins had 23 plays in the game, but I thought he played well," Phillips said. "That (pass deflection) play he made just showed his outstanding athletic ability. And really at the end of the game there, they ran the hook and lateral, lateral, lateral deal and his responsibility was to stay outside and make sure they don't make 17 yards. That's where he was. Those are good things to see."
In those final two drives of the game, Donovan McNabb had little room to throw because the secondary clamped down on the Eagles' receivers. Jenkins was a big part of that, using his size and strength on a few plays, including one in which he blasted Hank Baskett into the Eagles' bench, keeping him out of the route.
Ok, so maybe he had a pretty big holding call that wiped out what would've been a 55-yard completion. But overall, there weren't many other mistakes. When you face an Eagles defense and don't give up one sack, the entire offensive line should get praised. But Procter has been called the "weak link." And it was expected that Philadelphia might try and attack him en route to Tony Romo. They tried. But Procter held his own. He got some help at times, but overall, he played well. Does that mean Kyle Kosier doesn't get his job back? Not at all. But it doesn't appear the Cowboys are in a huge hurry to rush Montrae Holland on the field anytime soon.
Probably left off a few deserving names in the process. Rookie tight end Martellus Bennett not only caught a 20-yard pass, but had some nice blocks in both the running and passing game. Safety Pat Watkins brought some life to the defense after Roy Williams went down, and also had two special teams tackles. And what about Miles Austin? He comes back from a sprained MCL injury in preseason and catches two key passes, one on third down, on the Cowboys' game-winning drive.