Scout's Eye: Breaking Down The Game-Changing Plays From All Three Phases

FRISCO, Texas – There's a lot to digest after a win of that magnitude.

Obviously, you can talk all day about the job done by Dak Prescott and Co., rebounding from an ugly start to secure an overtime victory. You also have to credit the Dallas defense, which played tough to buy their offense time. And that doesn't even include memorable special teams plays like Chris Jones' fake punt.

As Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said after the game, this was truly a team win.

With that in mind, I tried to break down as many aspects of this one as possible – from all different angles. So let's take a look at just how the Cowboys managed their sixth-straight win.

  • On the game-winning touchdown pass to Jason Witten, it appeared Dak Prescott wanted to hit Terrance Williams on the slant, but he had to come off that when safety Rodney McLeod jumped the route underneath. Prescott, sensing that he had to move in the pocket in order to give his receivers time to get open, did just that. The overall protection was where it needed to be without any true threat to Prescott. Tyron Smith and Ronald Leary had the left side secure when he decided to spin that way. Witten was able to break free from coverage when McLeod decided that he was going to undercut the route -- but he over shot Witten and collided with Malcolm Jenkins, who was trying to carry Witten across the field. Once Jenkins was out of the play, Witten was able to mirror Prescott, who saw him as he came out of his turn. In typical Dak Prescott fashion, he threw the ball moving to his left with both feet coming off the ground.
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  • We're starting to see more of those plays from Anthony Hitchens that we saw during his rookie season. His tackle of Carson Wentz on 3rd-and-1 was as athletic as it comes. The defense was in base personnel with Damien Wilson on the field. The plan for Wentz had two options: Darren Sproles in the flat or Trey Burton up the field. Sean Lee was able to carry Sproles, while Morris Claiborne eliminated Burton. With no options available, Wentz had no choice but try and secure the first down with his feet. Hitchens was faking a blitz in the "A" gap when Wentz took off to the outside. Hitchens was able to run around Barry Church and Zach Ertz, battling along the line to close the ground on Wentz. With a well-executed block down tackle, Hitchens was able to cut down Wentz four yards from the marker and create a punting situation.
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  • As good as the throw was by Dak Prescott to Dez Bryant on that 53-yard strike, the block by Keith Smith on a blitzing Rodney McLeod off the left side saved the day. The Eagles tried to bring three rushers off the weak side. Ronald Leary picked up Connor Barwin, Tyron Smith picked up Nigel Bradham and Smith worked across the pocket to secure McLeod. Prescott never left the middle of the pocket and let the ball fly to Bryant, who had beaten Leodis McKelvin down the field.
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  • A pressure by Orlando Scandrick out of the slot led to the first sack of the game by Tyrone Crawford. For some reason Carson Wentz didn't throw the ball to Josh Huff on the hot route, as he was looking for the pass on the move. Defensively, it's a three man front with David Irving lined up at nose with DeMarcus Lawrence and Crawford at ends. Crawford stunted hard to the outside, coming right working behind Irving. Philadelphia guard Stefen Wisniewski did a poor job of controlling Crawford, and it let him get into perfect position to receive. Wentz tried his best to escape to his left, but he was unable to spin out of his tackle, resulting in the sack. It was a well-executed blitz by Scandrick and the twist stunt between Crawford and Irving, as well.
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  • I loved the call by Scott Linehan on 3rd-and-1 to get the ball in the flat to Ezekiel Elliott while working against linebacker Jordan Hicks. The Eagles had nine men in the box and were selling out to stop the run. With Dez Bryant being doubled on the outside by Nolan Carroll and Rodney McLeod, it left Elliott one-on-one with Hicks. Once Elliott broke through the line and to his right, Hicks lost the leverage on him. Prescott put just enough touch on the pass to allow Elliott to catch it on the move then quickly turn up the field for a 25-yard gain to keep the drive going.
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  • Give a tip of the cap to Chris Jones and his ability to sell the fake punt. His ability to go through the motions, then bounce the ball to the outside and around the corner was all on him. I need to ask this, but I don't believe it was a huddle call due to how it was blocked. It appears that the punt team was going through their normal protection blocks, even to the point where Kyle Wilber was beaten badly off the snap. No one is blocking like there is a fake -- which leads me to believe that when Jones glanced back toward the bench that Rich Bisaccia made the call after seeing the Eagles alignment.
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  • Dak Prescott needs to buy dinner for Terrance Williams the next time they are out. Williams saved Prescott from what would have been a terrible interception from the Eagles' 5-yard line. When Prescott broke the pocket to his right, there were only two options for him: Ezekiel Elliott to his left, along the goal line, and Williams trying to get free from Leodis McKelvin along the backline. Elliott stopped moving, which put Prescott in a bind as he drifted further right. Williams slipped on the play and put his hand out of bounds. While on the ground, Williams saw Prescott had thrown the ball in his direction. Williams alertly popped up and grabbed McKelvin's left arm, spinning him around away from the floating pass. McKelvin was unable to adjust back to make the interception and the ball fell to the ground incomplete. Williams was called for offensive pass interference, which the Eagles decline and Dan Bailey comes on to kick the 23-yard field goal like nothing happened.
  • In the Cowboys' dime package, Orlando Scandrick was lining up in one slot while Byron Jones was lining up opposite. I thought we might see Anthony Brown playing inside with Scandrick while Jones lined up at safety. When Morris Claiborne left the game, Brown took his spot outside with Scandrick and Jones inside. I would be interested to see if they will start Scandrick on the outside for Claiborne and then move him into the slot on sub packages. Scandrick was outstanding in the game -- especially as a blitzer. His sack of Carson Wentz on 3rd-and-19 in the fourth quarter was a game-changer, because Wentz was loading up to throw the ball to a wide open Zach Ertz, who managed to work behind Sean Lee and in front of Jeff Heath.
  • Tremendous blocks by Zack Martin, Travis Frederick and Ronald Leary on the 4th-and-1 quarterback sneak in overtime. The middle of the Eagles' defensive line was loaded with Fletcher Cox, Beau Allen and Connor Barwin, but they were no match for the interior three of the Cowboys. Prescott took the ball and fit right in the gap between Martin and Frederick, who were shoulder to shoulder. Once Martin got his head on the inside of Cox the hole opened right up and Prescott was able to ride the momentum of their blocks to the key first down.
  • I was surprised that Doug Pederson punted the ball with 6:34 left in the game after we had seen Caleb Stugis knock home a field goal from 55 yards before half. If Stugis had attempted a kick and made it – Dallas would have been in a 10-point hole and unlikely to come back. The key play that forced Pederson's decision was a tackle by Sean Lee in the flat on Darren Sproles. The timing of the play was thrown off when Carson Wentz dropped the snap and it is just that split second that allowed Lee to beat Jason Kelce to the ball and wrap Sproles up before he even had a chance to get going up the field.
  • Ezekiel Elliott's 15-yard run in the first quarter is a great example how Dez Bryant being on the field can affect the number of players in the box. Bryant and Cole Beasley lined up wide to the left side. The Eagles then put Malcolm Jenkins, Nolan Carroll and Rodney McLeod to that side in coverage. That left six defenders in the box with the Cowboys having the blockers to handle it. At the snap, Ronald Leary pulled to his right, Travis Frederick blocked back to cover the pull and Zack Martin was up on the linebacker. Elliott sprinted through the middle of the line untouched until he got to the middle of the Eagles' secondary. Just by being on the field, Bryant was able to draw that extra defender his way to help in the running game.
  • Nice job by Cole Beasley not tipping off his trick play by taking his right glove off to throw the pass. They had a great chance to hit this one. Leodis McKelvin had no idea where Terrance Williams was in the route nor where the ball was in flight. Really well designed play for the situation.    
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