Off their bye week, the Cowboys romped over San Francisco 40-10.
The biggest news was the defense and special teams forced three fumbles that they recovered. The Cowboys turned two into touchdowns, and the third took points off the board for San Francisco right before the half.
The defense also sacked C.J. Beathard five times, giving the team 21 in six games, tied for sixth in the NFL. DeMarcus Lawrence kept his sack streak alive with a strip-sack, leaving him with 9.5 in six games, second in the NFL, and one game less than the leader, Calais Campbell of Jacksonville.
The linebacking and secondary is still a work in progress. Anthony Hitchens and Sean Lee lined up next to each other for the first time all season, putting Jaylon Smith in a support role. But the team is still relying too much on Jeff Heath at safety, and can’t get Chidobe Awuzie on the field, as he remained out with bad hamstrings.
Who thought going into the season that this unit would be the strength of the defense. Remember all the talk about drafting a “War Daddy”? Well, the Cowboys have at least two of them, in DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving. Their dominance has been freeing Tyrone Crawford for sacks the last two games.
With the run defense weak, Dallas made Benson Mayowa and Damontre Moore inactive this week, and added Richard Ash from the practice squad. Along with Brian Price, that gave the Cowboys some beef at defensive tackle for a combined 52 of 66 snaps. In Mayowa and Moore’s place, Taco Charlton saw his snaps jump from 8 last week to 37 this week.
Here’s the production.
- David Irving, two tackles, one assist, one sack for 12 yards, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hit, one pass defensed, and one forced fumble.
- DeMarcus Lawrence, two tackles, one assist, one sack for 14 yards, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.
- Tyrone Crawford, two tackles, one sack for eight yards, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hit, one fumble recovery.
- Maliek Collins, one tackle, one assist.
- Taco Charlton, one tackle, one pass defensed.
- Brian Price, one quarterback hit, one pass defensed.
- Richard Ash, one quarterback hit, one pass defensed.
It was nice to see Hitchens and Lee together. Justin Durant was the odd guy out this week. This is still a work in progress, but there’s hope with Jaylon Smith playing the relief role. Here’s the production.
- Anthony Hitchens, eight tackles, three tackles for loss
- Sean Lee, five tackles, two tackles for loss
- Jaylon Smith, two tackles, one assist, one sack for 13 yards, one forced fumble
- Damien Wilson, two tackles, one sack for one yard, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hit.
- Kyle Wilber, one tackle.
The Cowboys are leaning on five guys for nearly all of the snaps: Byron Jones and Anthony Brown (97%), Jeff Heath (91%), Jourdan Lewis (67%), and Orlando Scandrick (64%). Both Lewis and Scandrick have missed a game.
There was no apparent move to phase out Jeff Heath in this game, as Xavier Woods continues to get minimal snaps. Chidobe Awuzie might break into this group if he’s ever healthy. The Cowboys need an infusion of something if they are going to see improvement in the back end. It’s not clear yet where it’s going to come from.
- Byron Jones, five tackles, two assists, one quarterback hit.
- Jeff Heath, six tackles, one tackle for loss
- Anthony Brown, five tackles.
- Jourdan Lewis, four tackles.
- Kevin Frazier, one tackle.
- Orlando Scandrick, one tackle.
- Xavier Woods and Ben Benwikere, no stats.
The biggest news was the Dan Bailey suffered a groin injury practicing on the sideline, forcing Jeff Heath to make several kick offs and try three extra points, two of which he made. Bailey’s injury is expected to sideline him for several weeks and force Dallas to sign a backup, who will not be as reliable as the most reliable kicker in NFL history. The team is just going to have to suck it up so this doesn’t cost them any games.
The other big news was the fumble Kavon Frazier forced on the Cowboys’ first punt. This was huge, as it led to Dallas’s first touchdown, from which they never looked back.
Chris Jones only had to punt three times, and was his solid self. There were no return yards on kickoffs or punts for Dallas. The Cowboys allowed one ten-yard punt return, and covered Jeff Heath’s kickoffs well.