FRISCO, Texas – From my seat inside our studios at The Star, these were my biggest impressions from Sunday’s big win against Philadelphia.
As always, I’ll have more detailed note when I’ve had a chance to check the tape. But these were my snap judgments from the game.
- What a creative design by the staff to get the ball to Tavon Austin in space working against Orlando Scandrick. The fake of the inside handoff to Tony Pollard drew Kamu Grugier-Hill and Rodney McLeod down inside, giving Austin all the room he needed. Another wrinkle to the play was the way Austin came in motion from the outside to become the pitch man on the play.
- Loved the slot blitz call by Kris Richard to get Jourdan Lewis home for a sack. Lewis did a nice job of disguising his true intentions with his alignment. When Nelson Agholor motioned down, Lewis adjusted with him, making it appear as if he was playing coverage. Even though he was coming from Carson Wentz’s front side, Wentz never saw him. Give credit to Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith for holding Wentz’s attention, as well.
- Impressive scoop block on the backside by Zack Martin and La’el Collins to give Ezekiel Elliott room on his 14-yard run that was initially called a touchdown. Martin and Collins were able to keep Fletcher Cox and Nathan Gerry from the ball as Elliott just overpowered Malcolm Jenkins a good 10 yards from the goal line.
- I had a feeling studying tape this week that Robert Quinn was going to bull rush rookie Andre Dillard back into Carson Wentz for a sack. Quinn might not be the biggest guy, but when he lowers his head and gets his hands inside on the blocker, he does have the ability to play with leverage. Give some credit to Maliek Collins, as well, for getting rid of Jason Kelce and arriving at the quarterback nearly at the same time as Quinn help with the sack.
- How confident was Dak Prescott on his touchdown pass to Blake Jarwin? As soon as he saw Jarwin break open and let the ball loose, he kissed his index finger and pointed to the sky to thank his mother. It was another excellent ball fake by Prescott to draw the Eagles defense down to the inside. Jarwin really didn’t show much of a block on the backside and when he pivoted away from Prescott, he had to be surprised that no one picked him up. The Eagles sold out on the play and paid for it.
- I have no idea what Carson Wentz was thinking when that fumbled snap went right through his hands. But it was a great reaction by Kerry Hyder to see the situation and shoot into the gap to get the ball. Hyder was able to knock the ball away from Wentz and scoop it to himself for the turnover.
- Cowboys had the correct scouting report on Rasul Douglas. Make him defend double-moves and he’s going to give up big plays. The Vikings did it last week and Amari Cooper did it to him this week. Douglas has a habit of giving up big plays due to how he overreacts in coverage. Cooper did a great job of setting him up with the slant, and once he got him to move it was over. Prescott had plenty of time in the middle of the pocket to easily make the accurate throw.
- These last couple of games I had not seen DeMarcus Lawrence play with the kind of pass rush techniques he had in the past. He wasn’t winning with his first step and he wasn’t doing nearly a good enough job of playing with his hands. Lane Johnson has always been a tough matchup for him and Lawrence was able to finally beat him for a sack. Not only did Lawrence win with his first step, but he managed to keep Johnson’s hands off him as he was able to knock the ball out of Wentz’s hands for the sack/fumble.
- Dak Prescott will tell you that, if he throws the ball in front of Michael Gallup, it’s a touchdown. Gallup had beaten Jalen Mills badly off the line and was in great position on the slant. Prescott might have been worried about throwing Gallup into the path of Rodney McLeod, but if he had put it on Gallup he could have protected himself from the impact. Instead, the ball was low and behind Gallup -- who tried to adjust to make the catch but couldn’t quite do it.
- What a big play by Byron Jones to come off Mack Hollins in coverage and make sure that Zach Ertz didn’t make that big reception down the sideline. Ertz was attempting to get both of his feet down, but Jones drove into his right leg, which kept him from getting that foot down. It was a play that was initially ruled a reception but was overturned on the challenge by Jason Garrett.
- What a nice job by Jason Witten picking up that extra 11 yards right before the half to give Brett Maher a shot at the 63-yard field goal. Jalen Mills got caught between having to play Amari Cooper and cover Witten. With Mills stuck, Witten was able to secure the ball and work the sideline with body control and balance, getting out of bounds to stop the clock.
- What a tackle by Jeff Heath on Miles Sanders to get the defense off the field on a critical third down early in the game. It appeared as if Sanders was going to get the necessary yardage on the play, because Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch were both accounted for on the right side. If Heath hadn’t worked his way through the trash, Sanders had a crease right there for him to take advantage of. Instead, Heath was able to bring him down short, forcing the Eagles to punt. That in turn allowed the offense to cash in on the Blake Jarwin touchdown.