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Gamebreakers: Cowboys who had a day vs. Rams


(Editor's note: The content provided is based on opinions and/or perspective of the editorial staff and not the Cowboys football staff or organization.)

ARLINGTON, TX — They entered their bye week at 4-2 after a mountain of adversity struck during the first trimester of the 2023 NFL season, and the Dallas Cowboys were primed to get off to a strong start exiting the bye — if recent history was any indication.

Owning a record of 11-5 in contests following the bye week, head coach Mike McCarthy has a firm grip on how to get his team ramped back up; and this time it was for the Los Angeles Rams, a team loaded with talent on offense and with Aaron Donald ready to wreck the game from the defensive side of the ball.

Donald made sure his presence was felt early, but it wasn't enough for Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb, two players who torched LA en route to, well, a rout that isn't truly indicated by the final score.

Dak Prescott, QB: The Texas Coast offense is starting to fire on at least most of its cylinders and that should make plenty of opposing defensive coordinators take notice. Prescott followed up his best game of the season in Los Angeles with what is now the best game of his season — this time doing it mostly in the air. The two-time Pro Bowler connected early and often with CeeDee Lamb, who went nuclear in the first half on Sunday, helping to power another blowout W.

CeeDee Lamb, WR: It feels like it was forever ago when Lamb showed visible frustration on the sideline, but it was only two games (three weeks) ago, and none of that matters now. One game removed from hanging 117 receiving yards on one LA team, Lamb racked up 122 receiving yards and two touchdowns versus the other LA team, making it clear he's the WR1 in Dallas and, more importantly, that he is an absolute force when the ball is thrown his way.

DaRon Bland, CB: The only thing you can say at this point about Bland is: wow. The former late-round pick was moved from the nickel spot due to the season-ending injury to Trevon Diggs and he hasn't missed a step in his ballhawking ways. His pick-six against Matthew Stafford and the Rams gives him three on the season, and he shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, he's just getting started as the other shutdown cornerback for the Cowboys.

Micah Parsons, W (for Weapon): Anyone questioning Parsons' play over the last couple of weeks were silenced by a sack against Justin Herbert to help seal the game away at SoFi Stadium and, following the bye week, he's keeping his doubters silent (as few as them as there are) in how he bullied Stafford at nearly every turn. The Rams' offensive line will certainly have nightmares about what Parsons and the Cowboys' defensive front did to them on Sunday, a key reason for the huge win.

Jake Ferguson, TE: It's been a quiet last couple of games for Ferguson, but not because of anything he's done wrong. It's just a matter of getting the targets, and he made good early on in the battle when a dot was thrown by Dak Prescott into tight coverage in the end zone, requiring Ferguson to lay out for a spectacular catch to give the Cowboys a 7-0 advantage — punctuating an opening drive that started in shambles due to multiple sacks on Prescott. Ferguson continues to prove he's the TE1 in 2023.

Brandon Aubrey, K: As it stands, Brandon Aubrey is statistically the best kicker in the entire NFL. I want you to absorb that for one moment. This is a kicker who only recently began place kicking after a lifelong career in soccer, arrived in this year's training camp by way of the XFL, and in competition with a previously-signed kicker that he was forced to beat out; and all of this was at the position viewed as having the biggest need and, therefore, facing the most scrutiny. All he's done since is add his name to the annals of NFL history as one of the best rookie kickers ever.

Sam Williams, DE: Williams came out of the bye week on a mission to get noticed, and he achieved it. Following a sack by Micah Parsons on the Rams' third offensive drive to force a punt, Williams flew into the backfield and blocked the would-be punt. The ball rolled out of the back of the end zone and the Cowboys were awarded a safety that gave them a sizable 19-3 lead just ahead of the second quarter; and they never looked back.

Brandin Cooks, WR: For the second consecutive game, questions surrounding the Cowboys' inability to get Cooks involved in the offense were quieted. The veteran wideout has now delivered two touchdowns in as many games, this week on a drop in the bucket from Dak Prescott in the fourth quarter to stretch the Cowboys' lead to a nearly insurmountable 43-17 with 12 minutes still remaining in the games. Cooks has been the consummate pro all season, and his patience is starting to pay off for a Cowboys' offense that is now putting all of its weapons on display.

KaVontae Turpin, WR: Adding to the special teams party on Sunday, the latest for the group, was the dynamic return ability of Turpin. He not only got involved on offense, but his 63-yard burst early in the second quarter gave Prescott and the offense fantastic field position. They'd reward him for his efforts with one of Lamb's two touchdowns in the first half, pushing the lead to 26-3 and putting Stafford and Sean McVay in dire straits for the remainder of the game.

Damone Clark, LB: It's the second game in a row that the Cowboys have been without Leighton Vander Esch, the Pro Bowl linebacker relegated to injured reserve for the time being, and it was yet another week in which Clark stepped up and impacted the game in all the right ways. He was flying around as per usual, making key tackles and helping to bottle up the Rams rushing attack. He'd lead the team in tackles at halftime before going on to rack up more as the final two quarters rolled along.

Osa Odighizuwa, DL: It's wild to me that the world still hasn't properly recognized what Odighizuwa is doing for the Cowboys, and not just this season, but also in 2022. It was a career-best campaign for the veteran defensive lineman last year and he's used it as a trampoline for what he's been able to do thus far this season. His disruptions don't always lead to sacks, but they made Matthew Stafford uncomfortable; oh and, by the way, holding penalties that are drawn (as he did on Sunday) are as good as sacks (seeing as they cost the opposition 10 yards).

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