Monday Night Football was just what the Dallas Cowboys needed to get back on track. Dak Prescott and Demarcus Lawrence lead a spectacular team effort for three quarters which was enough for the Cowboys to bump their record to 2-1 for the season. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of this week three matchup.
Dak Prescott and his offense heard it all after back-to-back subpar performances. Through the first quarter of the Arizona game, the Dallas offense was nowhere to be found but they quickly rediscovered their groove in the second quarter. Dak Prescott lead a remarkable performance as he went 13/18 for 183 yards with two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. His ability to create with his feet will never make it to the box score but it was his creativity and escapability that set up multiple touchdowns and critical first down conversions. For the first time all season, sophomore Dak Prescott mimicked the rookie magic.
While Prescott and Co did well, it was set up because of Demarcus Lawrence and his crew along the defensive line. While Sean Lee has been the clear leader for this defense for a number of years, it appears that Lawrence is trying to prove his worth this season as he single-handedly impacted Carson Palmer for the majority of the game. He officially recorded three sacks but his pressure, motor and tenacity throughout the game set the tone and provided an opportunity for the Dallas offense to take this game over.
An honorable mention goes to rookies Jourdan Lewis and Xavier Woods who stepped up against quality talent and tackled like veterans. Byron Jones has become the defacto leader of this secondary and he has done well in managing his young teammates. In a time where Dallas can no longer depend on some injured veterans in the secondary, the young talent has stepped up and allowed Rod Marinelli to remain aggressive across the defensive line.
The Dallas Cowboys took control of the game in the second half but they made a few mental errors that could have been very costly. Early in the game, the Dallas defense stepped up and stopped the Cardinals on fourth down but a penalty by Benson Mayowa gave Arizona an additional set of downs.
Likewise, as the Cardinals were attempting to make a comeback midway through the fourth quarter, Larry Fitzgerald came down with a superb third down conversion which extended the drive and allowed the Cardinals to come within four points of the Cowboys. Jason Garrett has been criticized in the past for not being prepared for situational football and you could argue that the secondary needs to be coached up to not allow any receiver get behind them on a play like this.
The Cowboys also committed multiple penalties on the Cardinals last-gasp drive that stalled just outside the goal line. Dallas needs to be a little cleaner and close it out without committing penalties.
The opening sequence for the Cowboys and Cardinals was particularly ugly on both sides of the ball for the Cowboys. Arizona opened the game with the ball and Carson Palmer had a perfect drive that included three plays of over twenty yards. It eventually lead to a quick strike to Jaron Brown for a 7-0 lead. After the Dallas defense got torched, the Dallas offense went three and out after calling a pair of rushes and a short pass on third down. Fortunately for Dallas, the offense started clicking the the defense clamped down quickly.
Sean Lee was injured towards the end of the game and this could potentially be a major issue for the Dallas Cowboys. At the time this article is published, it remains unclear the extent of his injury but Dallas has shown that it needs Lee’s leadership, play-calling and instinct in order to be successful.
The Dallas Cowboys leave Arizona with a victory and find themselves in a tie for the lead in the NFC East at 2-1. They took advantage of mistakes from the Cardinals and their stars showed up throughout the night. Ezekiel Elliott crushed it when he needed to, Dez Bryant and Brice Butler showcased their strength and speed. Dak Prescott held tough and was deadly on the move out of the pocket. Finally, Demarcus Lawrence, Maliek Collins and the rest of the defensive line did a fantastic job of harassing Carson Palmer. A team win.