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Scout's Notebook: Elliott's Pass Catching Ability, Defensive Standouts & More

ARLINGTON, Texas – It will be a while until I can digest the tape after a late finish like that.

But after an exhilarating overtime win for the Cowboys, here's a few notes that really jumped out to me during the 29-23 thriller here at AT&T Stadium:

  • I love the fact that Jason Garrett went for the win on that 4th-and-1 in overtime. Even though his defense had played well in the fourth quarter, there was no guarantee that they could have made one more stop. Give Garrett credit for knowing the situation and the condition of his team. He knew he had to go win that game now and he did just that.
  • You will never hear me complaining about getting the ball to Dez Bryant, but 14 targets appeared to hurt this offense. While Bryant was out of the lineup, I thought they had better distribution and it wasn't until the second half that they were able to get the other skill players involved. Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten all had game-changing plays. When this offense is really rolling, it needs the ball to not just go to one player, but others -- and we saw what happens again when it does.
  • This defense usually struggles to create negative plays. As a matter of fact, they are one of the worst in the league in that stat. In this game they were able to trap the Eagles nine times behind the line of scrimmage with two a piece coming from Sean Lee and Tyrone Crawford.
  • This is likely to sound crazy, but I was more impressed with Ezekiel Elliott's pass catching ability than I was watching him run the ball. Elliott was 4-for-4 on targets and catches. When he caught the ball in the flat in overtime, I thought the game was over when he turned up field. He is such a natural hands catcher and continues to prove what a complete back he is each week.
  • Orlando Scandrick has such a feel for how to come on the blitz. He reminds me of Ronde Barber when he played with the Buccaneers. I promise this is why Rod Marinelli brought him out of the slot as much as he did -- because he knew that there was a great chance of him getting home, and he did.
  • The fake punt was a game-changing call, but that doesn't make up for the night the special teams had. There is no excuse for having 12 men on the field. They were off the field after a tremendous play by Anthony Hitchens to tackle Carson Wentz on 3rd-and-1. The Eagles took the gift and drove the ball into field goal range to take an early lead. Chop blocks, missed tackles on the kick off, running into the kicker, holding -- it was all there in this game.
  • Terrell McClain continues to find ways to make plays from that three-technique spot. For him to win at the point of attack, slide to his outside and knock the ball out of Wendell Smallwood's hand was as nice of a defensive play as you will see. At that time the Eagles had a two-score lead, and though the offense only managed a field goal, it put them right where they needed to be to later tie up the game.
  • I have to admit that I was surprised Darren Sproles carried the ball 15 times. I would have thought that Ryan Mathews would have had the majority of the Eagles' carries, but that wasn't the case at all. I have never viewed Sproles as an every down back, but Doug Pederson played him that way and it worked out for them. He is such a difficult player to deal with due to his quickness and power. I didn't see many clean shots on him during the game.
  • I usually don't give Brandon Carr credit for the way that he plays in games, but tonight that will change. The series that he had in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 23-23 was outstanding. His tackle in the flat on Jordan Matthews for minus two yards and the breakup of the pass to Trey Burton gave the offense a chance to win the game in regulation.
  • How about Terrance Williams extending his hands above his head and snatching that ball on 2nd-and-6 to keep the drive going in overtime? Say what you want about Williams and some of his lapses in judgement during the games, but he has put some good tape out there for others in the league to see. 
  • I can't wait to talk to Jason Witten this week at The Star and ask him how he got so open. Give Prescott credit for keeping his eyes down the field to see Witten working in space.  Prescott continues to make those quality throws going to his left, which is not the easiest way for a quarterback to deliver the ball.
  • I told you there was going to be a trick play.  That's why you should always listen to Cowboys Break at 9:15 a.m., Monday through Friday. Makes you a smarter fan.
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