I’ve always enjoyed the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
If you’re fortunate maybe you’re already off of work for the holiday or are at least facing a relatively easy week. That’s made all the more better when the Dallas Cowboys pull off a big win on this particular day like they did this past Sunday in Atlanta. Congratulations to us all.
Thanksgiving brings with it a lot of traditions for folks, and a non-Thanksgiving tradition of mine is a Cowboys road trip with my Dad. We chose Atlanta this season (shout out to Ben for joining us at dinner on Saturday) and had a great time. Here’s our postgame video breakdown of what all went down.
We’re all winners, because the Cowboys are winners. These are the best times, friends.
Here are BTB’s five winners, five losers, and a whole lot in between from the win in Atlanta. Let’s have some freaking fun.
Winner: The Dallas Cowboys
Yes, the Dallas Cowboys won a game, but it they are winners in more than just a 22-19 way.
By defeating the Atlanta Falcons the Cowboys achieved a few things that need some pats on the back. They won consecutive games for the first time this season, and those two wins both came on the road where they hadn’t won before this baby streak even started. AND they did it against the last two NFC Champions. What on earth.
Dallas dominated the Falcons defensively. Consider that Atlanta’s first touchdown of the game did not come until the game was inside of the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter! THAT’S ABSURD.
Winners, the Dallas Cowboys are. Hooray for us.
Winner: Leighton Vander Esch and the Dallas Cowboys again
You would be extremely hard pressed to find someone who completely endorsed the Cowboys selecting Leighton Vander Esch back on draft night. There were DJ Moore vocalists, Derwin James preachers, and Calvin Ridley truthers.
In an amazing twist of irony, the shining moment of the win in Atlanta came because of both LVE and Ridley. A tipped pass off of the wide receiver’s hands found the linebacker and all of a sudden there we no more truthers.
LVE pic.twitter.com/XGsV31aE2W— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) November 18, 2018
We’ve got a really sweet Wolf Hunter t-shirt if you want to rock out LVE style (more info here) but honestly you might not be ready. Maybe none of us are. This dude is incredible.
Winner: Ezekiel Elliott the runner AND catcher
Ezekiel Elliott is one of the best running backs in the NFL. We’ve known this for a long time.
Zeke is also very good in the passing game. We’ve also known this for a long time. For whatever reason, the Cowboys refused to utilize this particular skill of Elliott’s... until now.
.@dallascowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott had 201 scrimmage yards and a TD in the team's Week 11 victory.— NFL345 (@NFL345) November 18, 2018
Elliott (4,540 scrimmage yards & 32 TDs) became the third player in @NFL history with 4,500+ scrimmage yards & 30+ TDs in their first 35 career games. pic.twitter.com/XWJW43YJQH
There were over 200 total yards to Zeke’s name when the game was said and done, and it was so refreshing to see how often the Cowboys went to him through the air. In fact, Zeke has 15 targets over the last two games which is actually the highest in any two-game stretch throughout his Cowboys career. He’s hauled in 13 of those targets for 115 yards and a touchdown.
Go Zeke Go.
Winner: The Cowboys offensive line as a whole, and Marc Colombo of course
We all know what happened last season in Atlanta, no need to pick at those scabs.
Collectively the Cowboys offensive line did great against the Falcons. It really does appear that the switch to Marc Colombo did wonders for the group as a whole, and Xavier Su’a-Filo continues to look like the best left guard that the team has.
Atlanta doesn’t exactly have the most ferocious pass rush in the world so it’s not like the Cowboys just stopped an incredible force, but we’ve seen an exceptional effort for two straight games now. Things are trending up.
Winner: Second chances for Cole Beasley and Brett Maher
Between Cole Beasley and Brett Maher, the Cowboys left five points on the field in Atlanta and you never want that to be the case.
Cole dropped an easy touchdown on the first offensive possession of the game for Dallas and Maher missed the extra point after the team’s first touchdown. These are things that, again, absolutely cannot happen.
Thankfully for both Cole and Brett, and all of us, they were both given opportunities to make up for their previous errors. When the Cowboys were driving to try and score the game-winning field goal it was Cole who had the catch that finally put them in range. It was Brett that made the kick, obviously.
MY HEART WILL GO ON pic.twitter.com/FeyXoaF5M1— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) November 18, 2018
There are a billion songs about second chances. Go listen to one now.
Loser: Brett Maher and the conversation about kickers
It’s pretty rare that the guy who makes the game-winning kick is discussed as a loser, but here we are. Maher found himself listed here not necessarily just because of what happened in Atlanta but because of the overall streak it contributed to.
Brett Maher has now missed a kick of some kind in four straight games for the Cowboys. After it being just about universally agreed upon that the Cowboys were correct in going with Maher over Dan Bailey (they were, we’ve learned that) this rut started. That’s not good.
You could make the argument that had Maher made the extra point that he missed (his first missed extra point as a professional) that there wouldn’t have been a need for a heroic last-second field goal. Thankfully it worked out, but it’s something to monitor from here on out.
Loser: Lance Lenoir’s dumb penalty
When things were getting particularly sticky in the second half the world saw Lance Lenoir, now officially on the 53-man roster, commit an atrocious penalty that gave the Falcons free yards. You can’t do that. You can’t do that ever, but especially in close games.
Perhaps it was just an instance of being in the game and the lights being brighter that had Lenoir acting that way. Either way it can’t happen again if he wants to remain on the roster for the foreseeable future. Those are the types of moves that get people cut.
Loser: Aggressiveness at the end of the game, maybe
On their penultimate drive of the game the Cowboys got a little bit conservative, although a penalty against Zack Martin didn’t exactly help things. That happens sometimes to teams up by seven points with little time remaining.
It was clear that the Cowboys were in a more defensive mindset than anything and that ultimately sort of came back to bite them as the Falcons did indeed tie the game. There are many who want to see the Cowboys put away games in those situations and they simply didn’t then, thankfully they did later.
Loser: The idea of not being scared about health
Two of the game’s biggest stars were both seen dealing with injuries during it, Leighton Vander Esch and Tyron Smith. Any time anyone is hurt it’s unfortunate, but when it’s players like that we’re all left holding our breath.
Thankfully both LVE and Tyron seem to be okay, but those heart attacks are tough.
Loser: The non-Cowboys teams in the NFC East
First of all, you never want to see what happened to Alex Smith happen to any team. Injuries suck no matter what uniform they hit.
Speaking in reality though, the Redskins look to no longer be able to seriously compete for the NFC East title. The Philadelphia Eagles suffered what is literally the biggest loss ever taken on by a defending Super Bowl Champion, and the Giants don’t even know how to tank properly.
Literally no Super Bowl winner has ever been as bad as the Philadelphia Eagles. pic.twitter.com/yjCWaX1JOH— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) November 19, 2018
A lot can change in a week and the Cowboys certainly know that. They’ve been given another chance at this thing and they’re going to have to do everything they can in order to take advantage of it.
While there were a lot of winners and losers the most important of the two, respectively, are the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons. This is going to be a short week for Dallas so get ready for Thanksgiving and all the good times that will hopefully accompany it.