Most people watching the game last night probably noticed at some point that DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff weren't playing anymore.
Just how little the two played can be seen from the snap counts that Pro Football Focus tallies for each game: Ware played only seven snaps, Ratliff played nine. That of course begs the question of who stepped up in their place?
Instead of waiting for the full review of the PFF grades which'll likely be ready on Monday or Tuesday, we take a quick preview of just the snap counts the Cowboys offense and defense accumulated.DEFENSE
- In total, the defense was on the field for only 46 snaps, one of the lowest totals of the season. Newman and Elam were the only players in on all snaps, with Gerald Sensabaugh missing just one.
- A number of starters follow on the list of snaps: Lee (41), Jenkins (39), Scandrick (38), Spencer (34) and Hatcher (28) all were on the field for the majority of snaps.
- Stepping in for Ware were Victor Butler (32 snaps) and Alex Albright (11). PFF were quite complimentary of the Cowboys pass rush without DeMarcus Ware in their game summary:
Going into the game it was touch-and-go whether or not DeMarcus Ware (+2.3) would be able to suit up. Given that he only played seven snaps, it’s safe to say the Cowboys were taking a cautious approach with their stud defender, which meant Victor Butler (+3.2) got plenty of action opposite Anthony Spencer (+2.4).
Neither man picked up a sack, but they were both able to get some pressure, with Butler tallying four hurries and Spencer, two hurries and a hit. Neither man is going to be confused with Ware when it comes to rushing the passer, but it’s encouraging that the Dallas defense didn’t give Freeman an easy time of things with Ware watching from the side.
- Lissemore came in for Ratliff at NT for 20 snaps, and that's also about the amount of snaps Spears (19) and Coleman (17) got. Clifton Geathers subbed in for 11 snaps.
- Brooking (15) and James (8) played sparingly, but each stood out with Brooking helping out on a Scandrick sack and James getting a fumble recovery. Bruce Carter only had five snaps.
- Frank Waker (23) and Alan Ball (5) complete the defensive list.
- Less mystery about the snapcounts on offense: Romo, Witten and all linemen except Smith (68) were on the field for all 73 offensive snaps.
- Key skill position players follow with Austin (66), Bryant (50), Jones (43) and Bennett (36). Bennett ended up being the highest graded Cowboy, not just for the three passes he caught but for his stellar blocking, which PFF describe as follows:
Mike Mayock made the point that Martellus Bennett (+5.8) hasn’t become the player Dallas expected him to be after he picked up a rare first down. It’s a valid point but one that maybe plays down what Bennett has become; one of the best blocking tight ends in all of football. The only player to get the better of him was his older brother Michael (who we’ll get to later) as Bennett had his way with Da’quan Bowers, Mason Foster and any other Buccaneer he could get his hand on.
You don’t often see tight ends do as much quality blocking in one game but Bennett, who dominated Bowers at the line of scrimmage (putting him on the floor at 2:14 in Q1) and Foster at the second level (Q3, 10:28), had one of the best blocking performances of any tight end all year. Kudos to doing a job that goes unnoticed.
- Laurent Robinson (35), Fiammetta (31) and Sammy Morris (26) also saw a lot of action, while Jermey Parnell (5), Ogletree (3) and John Phillips (2) only saw spot duty. Holley did not have a snap.