It's Tony Romo's big return so it only makes sense that he gets the opening the scene.
1. Tony Romo sees the field so well
Romo's two picks were horrible throws, but as he started to settle in, he played much better. There were two things I noticed about Romo's performance that stood out so much compared to his backup compadres over the last seven weeks. First, Tony can break down the defense extremely well. He takes every second of the play clock, but uses that time efficiently as figures things out. And when the ball is snapped, he goes through his progressions extremely well, but his footwork is impressive. Romo is able to wait out the pass rush and is can get the ball out quickly because his feet is always squared up.
But even unbalanced Tony Romo is fun to watch, because let's face it - he's never going to stop being this guy.
2. Defense showed up
While the return of Romo gets all the good eats on the media dinner table, the play of the defense was very crowd-pleasing, if that crowd consists of a bunch of Cowboys fans. The defense only allowed 210 total yards, which is now their season best, beating out their week two effort against the Eagles. There are a lot of contributing factors, including a great job by the Cowboys offense in sustaining drives, but the defense made a lot of good plays across the board.
3. Robert Turbin is a good complementary back
When you are going with a heavy ground attack and giving your workhorse back 29 carries, it's always a good idea to have a solid running back in your pocket to spell the starter. Robert Turbin did just that. Turbin would rush seven times for 35 yards for a 5.0 yard per carry average. For a guy that was claimed out of the scrap pile a few days ago, he did a great job becoming acclimated to the offense. He played like an extension of McFadden as the duo had 164 yards rushing for the day.
4. Gavin Escobar did a great job setting the edge
When the Cowboys offense had the ball on the final drive, they were able to chew most of the remaining clock by an impressive running game. McFadden would spring through the holes for some big first down runs. One of things that made this possible was how well Gavin Escobar was sealing off the edge with his blocking assignments. He looked like a 2014 James Hanna. Escobar missed out on a big opportunity as he almost hauled in a nice touchdown catch in the first quarter, but he was very proficient in blocking.
5. Brandon Carr made a big play
It might get lost in the box score, but Brandon Carr came up big with a nice pass break up in the first quarter. On third and five, Ryan Tannehill went deep to Jarvis Landry, but Carr was able to get his hand in there causing the ball to come loose as Landry hit the ground.
6. Romo can overcome the bad down and distance
With two minutes left in the first half, the Cowboys offense was faced with a second down and 27 after a barrage of penalties. Romo would hit Terrance Williams to pick up a nice 16-yard chunk, and then hit him again for the 31-yard touchdown. Despite being so far behind the chains, the Cowboys were still able to get something done. This is so much better than a couple of useless dump off passes.
7. Cole Beasley made a cameo appearance
Romo did a good job getting his receivers involved, but Beasley only was targeted three times. He was close to having a touchdown catch when Romo looked his way on a second and goal from the seven-yard line. Beasley couldn't get his body turned around in time and wasn't able to make the catch. He would still find a way to contribute. On the team's final drive, the offense would give the ball to McFadden on 11 of the 12 plays in that drive, but the one time he didn't touch the ball - it went to Beasley. On a third and four, Romo would hit Beasley on a short pass, where he would follow his blocks and keep the chains moving. The little things matter.
8. Tyron Smith keeps getting beat
When your left tackle makes close to $100 million there's a little more scrutiny that comes his way when he isn't making plays. And for Tyron Smith, he's had a rough go at times over these last three games. Against the Philadelphia Eagles a few weeks ago, he got beat by Brandon Graham after he was able to get his hands inside and slide around him. This week, Smith struggled with Olivier Vernon. The Cowboys star LT is usually on the right end of being the fundamentally sound one, but he's losing some matchups. Granted, these are good pass rushers so Smith is still playing well. It's just a little unusual to see him getting beat this much.
9. The pass rush was strong
The Cowboys only have 16 sacks on the season which put them right on pace to match their 28 sacks they had last season. They got three on Sunday. It actually felt like they had more than that and they did a good job getting all their pass rushers involved. Greg Hardy, DeMarcus Lawrence, Jack Crawford, and even David Irving all got in the books with at least half a sack. With the offense able to build up a lead, Miami had to rely more on the passing game.
10. The Carolina Panthers are a great football team
When you're 10-0, it's pretty clear that you're a good football team. The Panthers dismantled the Washington Redskins who were coming off a 33-point victory over the New Orleans Saints. And while it is no secret that this week's Thanksgiving game is going to be a tough game, what would you think if the Tony Romo-led Cowboys beat the unbeaten? Food for thought.