The Cowboys fell to the Packers 35-31 in a game they could have won. They were left disappointed once again by the late-game heroics of Aaron Rodgers.
The Cowboys rolled up more than 400 yards again, and 31 points, but lost at home. As Bob Sturm noted, that almost never happens.
When your offense scores 30 points (or more), gains 400 yards of total offense and runs for 150 yards on the ground, they win - regardless of anything else. We don't even look at defensive stats or turnovers or anything. Just those three numbers that demonstrate great productivity and plenty of it happening with a great ground attack.
Games over the course of Cowboys history where Dallas has checked those three boxes total 60.
They have done it 60 different times and have won 57 of them. 57-3 seems like a pretty solid trend, right?
Dak Prescott threw a pick-six, but it was in the hands of Terrance Williams that must be blamed for the miscue. Otherwise Dak was masterful, with a 96.6 QBR (on a 100 scale), three touchdown passes, and a touchdown run. See the Dak and Zeke report for more. Zeke also had a big game, with 29 rushes for 116 yards, his highest output of the season.
Cowboys are getting better in the passing game, but not quite there yet.
Last week we asked where the short passing game was, as neither Cole Beasley nor Jason Witten could get untracked. In this game, Witten was back with an 8 of 10 day, while Beasley caught four passes to tie his season high, but added two touchdowns. That, and Zeke’s game, helped Dallas to go 7 for 12 on converting third downs, and three for three on fourth down. As a result, Dallas dominated the time of possession 35:06 to 24:54. But critical penalties really cost Dallas - a 15-yard facemask call on Anthony Hitchens and a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on Benson Mayowa - as Green Bay converted punts to touchdowns on both drives.
Here are the passing charts we have been compiling.
Terrance Williams and Jason Witten are almost exactly where they were last year. Williams is at .81 yards per snap versus .80 last year, while Witten is at .68 versus .66. That’s the okay news.
The bad new is that Dez is .89 this year versus 1.16 last year, and Cole Beasley is at .54 versus 1.38. Those were Dallas’s top two receivers last season, and they are both off. Dez is off in terms of catch percentage (44% v. 52%), while Beasley is further off (58% v. 76.5%).
The only bright spot is Brice Butler, who is gaining 1.92 yards per snap (versus .51 yards last year) and catching 73% of his targets (versus 50% last year).
The rest of the receivers and tight ends have only two catches between them.
The Cowboys have to keep up the high completion percentage they had in the Green Bay game, but stretch it out so everyone is at or above 10 yards per catch. This may still be a factor of the offensive line not giving enough protection, or opening enough holes for Zeke to take pressure off the passing game.
Here are the snaps.
Here’s our weekly look at the line from Pro Football Focus’s grading
- Tyron Smith - 76.2 (up from 68.7)
- Jonathan Cooper 39.7 (up from 32.8)
- Travis Frederick 81.9 (down from 84.2)
- Zack Martin 82 (down from 85.6)
- La’el Collins 43.6 (up from 38.3)
This is a sign of improvement, as three linemen were among the top five grades on the team — La’el Collins for a second week in a row, Tyron Smith, and Jonathan Cooper.
Not much to say here. Dak played a very solid game, with the pick-six his only blemish. Could have had longer ANY/A numbers as well. See the Dak and Zeke report.
Zeke had a very solid game. Alfred Morris chipped in two runs. And Dak Prescott had his highest rushing game of the year with four carries for 37 yards and the touchdown that gave the Cowboys the lead with 1:13 left.
Interestingly, Keith Smith played a lot at fullback. He had no rushes, but two catches for 10 yards. And Rod Smith caught a pass for 18 yards. Nice to see this additional diversity in the Cowboys’ game.
Should Brice Butler get more snaps? At the moment, he’s about the only big-play threat on the team. The Cowboys have to figure out how to break other guys free.
Jason Witten is still the only tight end receiver. I think the Cowboys miss the element Rico Gathers could have brought had the concussion not changed his season.
Comments at the bye
The offense put together two solid games after struggling the first three weeks against pressure defenses. They still need to be better. The offensive line is the key. La’el Collins is coming around, and Jonathan Cooper played much better in his second game. Getting all five of them in sync should increase Zeke’s yards per carry, and open him up for more explosive plays. That should help the passing game, as teams will have to key more on the run. The Cowboys need to free Cole Beasley, or punish teams for doubling him.
The Cowboys also need to have a ruthless approach. If they score 20+ points in the first half, the object must be to double it in the second half. With this defense, no lead is safe. The team has not found its groove yet, but it needs to with a tough schedule ahead.
Dak should run more. In run-pass option plays, teams almost always key on Zeke. Dak needs to punish them more to free up Zeke for the kind of up the gut runs he had last year against Cincy and Pittsburgh.