Watch Out, America: The Cowboys Are Back - Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report
Freeman has some thoughts on the 2018 Cowboys.
They are not spectacular. They are not flashy. They do not blow you away and are far from perfect. But if you don't think these Dallas Cowboys are for real, you are a fool.
And the reason they are isn't just the usual star suspects. It's not just because of the dominance of the NFL's rushing leader, Zeke Elliott, or the clever play of resurgent quarterback Dak Prescott. Dallas is legitimate because of a fast, nasty defense that just manhandled one of the great offenses of all time. Held it to 176 yards of offense. Punched it in the mouth, just like the Cowboys said they would.
What we saw in the Cowboys' 13-10 victory on Thursday night against the Saints was the culmination of an evolution. We saw Dallas go from awful early in the year, to a curiosity, to a team that will be one of the toughest outs should (when) it makes the playoffs. And the reason is that Gloomsday Defense, the modern incarnation of its Doomsday cousin.
What makes them unique isn't just how fast they are; it's how they use that speed. They chase after ball-carriers as well as any team in football. They caught Alvin Kamara, the slipperiest runner in football, several times from the backside on plays that Kamara would normally break.
"The one thing about our defense, what makes us elite, is we run to the ball like no other team," Dallas linebacker Jaylon Smith said on the broadcast after the game.
The Cowboys haters (and I was one of them) will say they are still the same ol' Cowboys. There are still disbelievers in Prescott. That's fine. Feed your hate. Let it grow as the Cowboys become a fully operational Battle Station.
No, these Cowboys aren't perfect.
Yes, these Cowboys are for real. Thanks to that defense.
Which will punch you in the mouth.
Cowboys slow down Saints, Dallas defense makes team true contender - Jonathan Jones, SI.com
The Cowboys’ defense shined on a major stage on Thursday night, with two young linebackers impressing against the Saints’ high-flying offense.
DeMarcus Lawrence had said it earlier in the week, but who took him seriously? The Saints, winners of 10 straight and owners of the best record in football with the likely MVP under center, entered AT&T Stadium averaging 37.2 points per game.
Dallas didn’t care. With the fourth-best red-zone defense, third-best scoring defense and certainly the best young linebacking duo in football, the Cowboys choked out the Saints on national TV 13-10 just as Lawrence had earlier promised.
”They’re going to have to match our intensity,” Lawrence told reporters earlier in the week. “S---, for 60 minutes straight. If you hit a m-----f----- in the mouth and then they ain’t doing what they’re regularly doing, putting up 50 points, they start to get a little distressed. Now you got them where you want them at, and then you f---ing choke their ass out.”
The offense has been clicking for weeks since the Amari Cooper trade, and now it’s proven that the Cowboys have a defense that can not only play with, but beat, the best of them.
Cowboys prove defense still matters in statement win over Saints - Jeffri Chadiha, NFL.com
In a season previously defined by high-flying offenses, the Cowboys proved that defense still has a place in today's NFL with a statement win over the Saints.
The biggest surprise in the Cowboys' 13-10 win over the New Orleans Saints wasn't that Dallas pulled the upset. It was that Dallas made the prolific Saints offense look so feeble at a time when New Orleans has been seemingly unstoppable. The Saints came into Thursday night averaging a league-high 37.2 points per game and riding a 10-game winning streak. They left with a very clear understanding that Dallas is starting to find its own rhythm at an incredibly optimal time.
The Cowboys definitely don't have the kind of firepower that we've seen from the Saints and Rams throughout the season. What Thursday night proved is that Dallas really doesn't need it.
There's been so much scrutiny placed on the Cowboys' offensive struggles -- particularly those of Prescott -- that it's been easy to overlook that their defense can carry them to the playoffs.
The Cowboys did get enough help from their offense to pull out this victory. Prescott continued to play with the same efficiency he's shown over the last month (he completed 24 of 28 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown). The running game was effective enough to give the defense vital rest, with Ezekiel Elliott gaining 76 yards on 23 carries. It was a much different script than we've been used to seeing in Dallas in recent years, but there's something appealing about it, as well.
Dallas has known for the last three years that most of its championship hopes revolve around Prescott and Elliott playing at a high level. It wasn't until this season that the Cowboys possessed a defense capable of carrying this team to loftier heights.
Scout’s Eye: Grading Tape On LVE, Jaylon & More - Bryan Broaddus, DallasCowboys.com
The two stud linebackers for the Cowboys played a huge part in their 13-10 win over the 10-1 New Orleans Saints. How did Bryan Broaddus grade the them out?
One of the questions that I had about Leighton Vander Esch was his ability to take on and shed blockers. There were snaps while at Boise where you would see him struggle to disengage, but that hasn’t been the case for him this rookie season. He has played this season with some pop. One great example of that was on the stop that they made on the goal line. DeMarcus Lawrence might have made the fourth down tackle, but it was Vander Esch who knocked Andrus Peat on his rear, then redirected to help on the play. Vander Esch has more than answered those questions that scouts had about his physicality.
I am not sure I’ve seen a game where this Cowboys’ defense tackled as well as this. They played a comparable game at Lambeau Field in 2016, but this was as impressive of a show as I can remember. I believe it was their tackling which won this game for them. The Saints put a great deal of stress on your defenders to have to make plays in space. Whether it was Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch or Anthony Brown, they came to tackle. Down after down, as soon as the ball was in the hands of a Saints skill player, there was a white jersey there to bring him down. The Saints were never able to get anything going offensively from a big play perspective because the Cowboys didn’t give them the opportunity.
Top 10: D-Law or Dak For Player of the Game? - Nick Eatman, DallasCowboys.com
Who ranked out as the Player of the Game from the mothership crew?
Was it DeMarcus Lawrence’s comments on Tuesday? What about his play on the field Thursday. Don’t forget about Leighton Vander Esch flying around the ball. And then there’s Dak Prescott’s crisp performance and Ezekiel Elliott grinding out tough yards.
Lots of great performances on Thursday that led to the Cowboys’ 13-10 win, along with some role players as well.
We picked the 10 best players who stood out the most and propelled the Cowboys to a stunning upset over the Saints.
NFL playoff picture: Cowboys’ win over Saints threw a buzzsaw into Eagles’ postseason hopes - Dave Zangaro, NBCSports Philadelphia
Did the Cowboys ruin any chance for the Eagles to make the postseason? We all hope so, and it sure sounds like they did.
We had all concocted this plan about how the Eagles were going to win on Monday night and create a three-way tie atop the NFC East and then the Cowboys went ahead and ruined it.
Last night, the Cowboys shocked everyone and beat the Saints 13-10 at AT&T Stadium and are now firmly in the driver’s seat of the NFC East. It was a game we all penciled in as a loss for the Cowboys and now that it’s a win, it changes things.
According to the statistics website FiveThirtyEight, the Cowboys’ chances to win the NFC East went from 54 percent before the win to 70 percent after. The Eagles’ chances to win the division yesterday were 21 percent, down to 15 percent today.
Let’s face it, the Cowboys made a better trade than the Eagles - Andrew Kulp, NBCSports Phildelphia
Not only did the Cowboys likely crush the Eagles playoff hopes, but they also executed a better trade earlier in the season. Those poor poor Eagles.
It was easy to claim the Cowboys overpaid while the Eagles got a bargain back at the trade deadline. Now, a month later, it’s painfully obvious Dallas made the better deal.
The circumstances surrounding the trades may seem like ancient history but remain relevant because the Eagles were reportedly in discussions to acquire Amari Cooper, offering the Raiders a second-round draft pick for the two-time Pro Bowl selection. The Cowboys were willing to send a first, and the Eagles wound up with Golden Tate from the Lions for a third.
The Cowboys gambled. But they landed the far better player, not to mention somebody who was a better fit for their team — and suddenly are the clear favorite to win the NFC East.
Trolling The Nation for Saints @ Cowboys: “Dallas Defense is playing like they have 15 players.” - OCC, Blogging The Boys
In case you missed it, OCC continues to put out the greatest article/series of the week. You don’t want to miss it.
Want to know what fans of other NFL teams were thinking while they were watching the Cowboys take it to the Saints?
Here’s your chance to do that via the comments made by those fans while watching the game.
One Dallas win did this:— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 30, 2018
*Gave the Rams the lead in the race for the NFC’s homefield advantage.
*Moved the Cowboys into sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
*Elevated Leighton Vander Esch into favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
*Ruined @stephenasmith’s day.
Cole Beasley sprained his foot in Saints’ game - Stefan Stevenson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Cole Beasley suffered an injury in the Cowboys win on Thursday Night Football.
Beasley sprained his foot late in Thursday’s win against the Saints. Coach Jason Garrett is hopeful the injury isn’t a long-term problem.
Beasley injured his foot on a 3rd down conversion in the fourth quarter in which he caught a five-yard pass for a first down. He came up limping and did not have any more targets in the game.
Cowboys Hoping Beasley’s Injury Not Long Term; Tyron Smith back soon - Rob Phillips, DallasCowboys.com
Garrett said the team is “hopeful” Beasley will not be out for an extended period of time, and that Tyron Smith can return to practice next week.
The team is “hopeful that it’s not going to be a long-term thing,” head coach Jason Garrett said Friday.
In other injury news, Garrett is hopeful left tackle Tyron Smith will be able to practice next week after not playing a second straight game due to a stinger.
“We’ll just see how he does here over the next few days and hopefully as we get going with our first regular practice on Wednesday, hopefully he’ll be out there,” Garrett said.
Cowboys-Saints game draws record TV rating for ‘Thursday Night Football’ - Matt Bonesteel, The Washington Post
A lot of people watched America's Team take down high-flying New Orleans.
There wasn’t much question about whether Thursday night’s Cowboys-Saints game would draw television viewers to Fox’s broadcast of the game. Dallas always gets eyeballs and was coming in hot while New Orleans has been both dominant and entertaining the season, and that perfect storm resulted in a 14.6 overnight television rating, the highest in the history of the “Thursday Night Football” franchise.
Ezekiel Elliott is the Best RB in the NFL and This Stat Proves it - Scott Rogust, 12Up
Put some respect on Ezekiel Elliott’s name ladies and gentleman.
Ezekiel Elliott is the sparkplug of the Dallas Cowboys offense, and if he gets going, it will lead to team success. With his ability to change the dynamic of a game, it makes him one of the better running backs in the league today.
This latest statistic proves just that.
Since entering the league in 2016, Elliott has accumulated 3,764 rushing yards, which is the most in the NFL. The biggest takeaway is he’s accomplished this feat while missing seven games in that span.
You know, if it wasn't for the sacks, the Cowboys passing game was shredding it yesterday, Mrs Lincoln. pic.twitter.com/COpr0bm9QX— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) November 30, 2018
The Cowboys are riding high after Thursday night's win over the Saints. But there's one area where they have to improve. That area is pass protection, where quarterback Dak Prescott was sacked seven times last night and has been sacked a whopping 45 times this season, by far the most in the NFL.
A part of the problem for the Cowboys is that All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith has missed the last two games. But the problems go beyond just Smith; Prescott had already been sacked a career-high 34 times in the 10 games Smith started.
Prescott himself has to bear some of the blame for failing to see the pass rush coming and get rid of the ball in a hurry. For the Cowboys to keep winning, they’re going to need to take better care of Prescott, and for Prescott to take better care of himself.
Cowboys December schedule sets up for continued winning - Jess Haynie, InsideTheStar
The Cowboys huge win against the Saints set them up nicely for a playoff push. Their upcoming schedule in December also helps their playoff chances. Jess Haynie explains here:
December used to be a four-letter word around these parts. During the middle of the Tony Romo Era, Dallas was known for some big letdowns in the final quarter of the regular season. But in 2018, these last four weeks are looking good for the Cowboys to keep on winning.
After last night’s upset victory over the New Orleans Saints, Dallas improved to 7-5 and are now on a four-game win streak. They will get a 10-day break until their next game.
Here is the rest of Dallas’ 2018 regular season schedule:
WK 14 - Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)
WK 15 - @ Indianapolis Colts (6-5)
WK 16 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)
WK 17 - @ New York Giants (3-8)
The last three games are all currently scheduled for early Sunday starts. The next game against Philly is in the late afternoon. Cowboys-Colts is the only game that could get flexed to Sunday Night Football, which is possible given the current Eagles-Rams matchup. Who knows if Philly will still be playoff-relevant by then?
There’s no question that Dallas’ next two games are its toughest. The Eagles will likely be coming off a win this week against Washington, and they’ll be fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive.
As for Indy, the Colts are right in the mix for the Wild Card race and still just two games back. We’ll see where they are by Week 15, but right now they look to be a competitive team still fighting for its postseason bid.