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Snap Counts For The Cowboys’ Offense: Dak Prescott Sets Another Rookie Passing Record

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Who played, and who produced, for the Dallas Cowboys offense? In our weekly look at the snap counts, we’ll evaluate whether Dallas is using its players well, and how well each of them is producing.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Overview

First, here’s a quick overview of the offensive game as a whole. The Cowboys won their eleventh game in a row, extending their team record, beating Minnesota in Minneapolis 17-15. It was the first time the Cowboys won in Minneapolis since 1995, their last Super Bowl year.

For the second week in a row, the Cowboys were out-gained - this time 318 to 264 yards - lost the time of possession - this time 33:17 to 26:43 - and played more snaps on defense (74) than offense (52). On the season, the Cowboys have now played only 24 more snaps on offense (806) than defense (782). As a result, they’ve slipped into second place in TOP per game (pending Sunday’s contests) to Philly, by four seconds.

Yet Dallas won the game again, this time because they hit the biggest offensive play - a 56-yard pass to Dez Bryant - and the biggest special teams play - a forced fumble by Kyle Wilber against the Vikings’ punt returner that gave Dallas a first and goal at the Vikings’ eight-yard line. The Cowboys were tied or ahead for all but 11:59 of the first half and 3:49 of the second half.

The game ultimately came down to a two-point conversion try by Minnesota with less than 30 seconds left. Sam Bradford was hit in the facemask by Cedric Thornton, causing his pass to sail high and out of the end zone. Remarkably, given how many great Cowboys’ plays had been negated by penalties throughout the game, no flag was thrown. That makes the Cowboys six for six this season in stopping two-point tries.

It may have been ugly, but it was another victory for the Cowboys. That’s the 17th road win in a row dating back to 2013 with either Dak Prescott or Tony Romo at quarterback.

Offensive Line

There were only 52 snaps on offense this week.

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Total Season Percent
Travis Frederick C 12 627 71 56 52 806 806 100%
Zack Martin G 12 627 71 56 52 806 806 100%
Doug Free T 12 623 71 56 52 802 806 100%
Tyron Smith T 10 475 71 56 52 654 806 81%
Ronald Leary G 10 428 71 56 52 607 806 75%
La'el Collins G 3 186 0 0 0 186 806 23%
Chaz Green T 4 151 0 0 0 151 806 19%
Joe Looney C 12 43 12 6 5 66 806 8%
Emmett Cleary T 6 5 0 0 0 5 806 1%

The Cowboys five linemen played all the snaps again this week. Joe Looney was also in for five plays. Minnesota did a very good job against Zeke, holding him to his third-lowest rushing total on the season. He ended up with 86 yards rushing, though he also had a 42-yard run negated by a Doug Free holding call. (Penalties hurt the Cowboys all night.) Dak was sacked three times for a loss of 15 yards loss. That’s the most sacks since going down four times against Washington in week two.

Quarterback

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Total Season Percent
Dak Prescott QB 12 622 71 56 52 801 806 99%
Mark Sanchez QB 1 5 0 0 0 5 806 1%

Dak had by far the fewest passing yards on the season. Yet his passer rating was 108.3, which set an NFL record for a rookie quarterback, with his 10th game over a 100 rating. He broke Russell Wilson’s record of nine. Overall, Dak was 12 of 18 for 139 yards, one touchdown pass, and 37 yards rushing on six scrambles. See the Dak and Zeke report for more details.

Running Backs

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Total Season Percent
Ezekiel Elliott RB 12 443 50 46 43 582 806 72%
Alfred Morris RB 12 99 5 5 1 110 806 14%
Keith Smith RB 12 69 9 8 10 96 806 12%
Lance Dunbar RB 9 63 15 5 5 88 806 11%

Zeke had a 86 yards rushing on 20 carries for a 4.3 yard average. He caught 4 passes on 5 targets for 19 yards. He added his 12th rushing touchdown, tying Tony Dorsett for the Cowboys’ rookie record. Details in the Dak and Zeke report.

Alfred Morris had only one play and one carry, but it was for 11 yards. Lucky Whitehead had a jet sweep, but fumbled on the Minnesota 34. Lance Dunbar was in for five plays but didn’t touch the ball. Dak Prescott ran six times for 37 yards, including a key 14-yard run on third and 13 from deep in Dallas territory that set up Dallas’s first touchdown.

Wide Receivers

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Total Season Percent
Terrance Williams WR 12 441 43 36 38 558 806 69%
Dez Bryant WR 9 362 62 43 37 504 806 63%
Cole Beasley WR 12 346 44 35 25 450 806 56%
Brice Butler WR 12 291 18 12 14 335 806 42%
Lucky Whitehead WR 12 106 6 6 5 123 806 15%
Vince Mayle WR 2 0 0 10 7 17 806 2%

Dez Bryant had another great game with four catches on six targets for 84 yards and a touchdown. That was almost a third of Dallas’s offense. He tied Michael Irvin for second all time in Cowboys touchdown catches at 65, in only 93 games (versus 159 for the Playmaker). Bob Hayes holds the Cowboys record at 71. The Dak to Dez connection has been heating up for the last several weeks.

Cole Beasley was next in yardage with two catches on four targets for 23 yards, his lowest totals of the season. Terrance Williams caught two passes on three targets for 13 yards. Brice Butler, Lucky Whitehead, and Vince Mayle were not targeted in their 26 snaps.

Tight Ends

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Total Season Percent
Jason Witten TE 12 624 67 56 52 799 806 99%
Geoff Swaim TE 9 203 0 0 0 203 806 25%
Gavin Escobar TE 12 46 17 12 18 93 806 12%

Jason Witten took every snap this week. But it was the first time in 130 games he didn’t catch a pass. His lone catch was negated by an Ezekiel Elliott holding call. Gavin Escobar played 18 snaps, but wasn’t targeted. He was, however, called for clipping and holding, which killed two Cowboys’ drives.

Offensive and special teams snap counts Game 2 - Washington

Offensive snap counts Game 3 - Chicago

Offensive snap counts Game 4 - San Francisco

Offensive snap counts Game 5 - Cincinnati

Offensive snap counts Game 6 - Green Bay

Snap counts at the bye

Offensive snap counts Game 7 - Philadelphia

Offensive snap counts Game 8 - Cleveland

Offensive snap counts Game 9 - Pittsburgh

Offensive snap counts Game 10 - Baltimore

Offensive snap counts Game 11 - Washington