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Cowboys news: Dallas sets the trend as defenses have a resurgent weekend

Plus injury updates on key players.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys among against-the-grain winners - Gregg Rosenthal,
Apparently, the Cowboys defense-fueled win Thursday was a trend-setter, as the league saw offenses struggle just a few weeks after many questioned whether defense was dead in the NFL.

The Cowboys’ game plan to stop the Saints was disarmingly fundamental. They tackled in space, they stayed in their gaps and they flew to the ball, with Leighton Vander Esch stringing out play after play to the sideline. They limited yards after the catch.

The excellent team defense set the tone for the week. The average points scored per game was 42.87 entering Monday night’s contest, far lower than the next-lowest frame of the season (the average was 45.19 in Week 3). This wasn’t about the weather either. The most memorable defensive performances (Cowboys and Rams) came in domes or sunny weather (Bills and Jaguars.)

All across the league, surging teams like the Seahawks, Texans and Broncos are finding success by playing a different brand of football than the NFL’s elite teams, with much of the foundation laid around balanced offenses and strong situational defense. Even the Cardinals joined the fun, holding the Packers to 17 points in Green Bay, costing Mike McCarthy his job.

Cowboys “Humbled, Blessed” By Hospital Visits - Nick Eatman,
Each year, the Cowboys are reminded football is just a game when the team and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders visit local children's hospitals. It's an admirable tradition that brings happiness to everyone involved.

At Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence visited a 2-year-old who had just woken up and wasn’t exactly ready for visitors, even if they were donning Cowboys jerseys, stocking caps and had presents. However, D-Law asked the hospital attendant if he could circle back in a few minutes to see her again, which he did, much to the joy of the girl who was in much better spirits the second-time around.

“That’s the main thing – if we’re going to do something, it’s all about doing it for real,” Lawrence said. “I love preaching that to our guys. If we’re going to come here and see the kids, we’re going to make sure before we leave we see a smile on their faces. That was the main thing today.”

At Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas, center Joe Looney was overwhelmed by one family.

“We had a little girl Fernanda up there and she was so cute,” Looney said. “She was with her sister and her mom. Just to see her reaction when we walked into the room, it was unbelievable. It puts a smile on our face.”

Crawford, who was with Looney at Scottish Rite, also said seeing the smiles is the best part of the trip.

“You always get a smile when you walk in there, or if not, a shocked-happy face,” Crawford said. “It’s always good to see and we’re blessing to be able to do this.”

To Dak Prescott. visiting kids bigger than wins - Clarence E. Hill, Jr. - Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Jaylon Smith couldn’t stop his competitive spirit from coming out as he got into a dance off with a couple of the children’s hospital patients.

The players interacted with the kids, signed autographs, took pictures, colored, played games and even danced with them. At least, linebacker Jaylon Smith did, as he found himself in a dance off with a couple kids and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders at Children’s Medical Center.

“It was great competition in that dance room,” Smith said. “I had to show up. I’m a competitor. I don’t think they got the best of me. I have to check the film.”

Smith said visiting kids is another example of the power of the Cowboys star and responsibility that comes along with it.

“It means a lot whenever you get a chance to go out in the community with this platform that we are on,” Smith said.

With Cowboys in first place, pressure is not off Jason Garrett - Todd Archer,
Archer notes that with heightened expectations head coach Jason Garrett continues to face key challenges.

At 3-5, the Dallas Cowboys' season seemingly was over.

The all-or-nothing trade for Amari Cooper and the change at offensive line coach did not favorably impact the Cowboys in their Nov. 5 loss to the Tennessee Titans. It all looked bleak, especially for Jason Garrett.

Eight full seasons was enough. Two playoff appearances were too little. The whispers for Lincoln Riley to be the next head coach became louder, as anybody but Garrett would do.

And the chatter about Garrett's clapping. Clapping when a fourth-down chance goes awry. Clapping when there is a penalty. Too much clapping.

That would be the lasting memory of the Garrett era, the clapping.

But in the month since, the Cowboys have not lost. Their most recent win came on Thursday when they beat the best team with the best offense, the New Orleans Saints, 13-10.

Now 7-5, they are in first place in the NFC East as December begins and the favorites to win the division with four games to play.

NFL Playoff Scenarios 2018-19 - Joel Reuter, Bleacher Report
Breaking down the various playoff scenarios and and prediction the Cowboys take the NFC East.

The Dallas Cowboys (7-5) have won four straight to move into first place in the NFC East, while the Washington Redskins (6-5) will face the Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) on Monday night.

Colt McCoy is now under center for the Redskins after Alex Smith suffered a season-ending injury.

Prediction: Cowboys finish 9-7 to win the division.

Travis Frederick unlikely to play in 2018 - Clarence E. Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Stephen Jones confirmed what seemed likely by saying Frederick is unlikely to return this season. He also gave updates on Tyron Smith, David Irving, Sean Lee and Tavon Austin.

The Dallas Cowboys don’t expect Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick, who has been sidelined since the start of the season with Guillian-Barre Syndrome, to return at all in 2018.

That was the word from vice president Stephen Jones on his radio show on 105.3 The Fan Monday morning when he officially acknowledged the obvious while giving injury updates for the Cowboys (7-5), who are heading into the final four games of the season, riding a four-game winning streak and in first place in the NFC East.

Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley III in 2-man race for 2018 rushing title - Todd Brock, CowboysWire
Ezekiel Elliott is looking for his second rushing crown in three years. Todd Gurley stands in his way.

Statistically speaking, Elliott would appear to have a slightly easier run ahead of him. But things can change: game plans get altered, injuries happen, superstars sometimes rest during meaningless games.

Elliott led the league in rushing in 2016, gaining 1,631 yards on the ground in just 15 games, obviouslyleading the league in yards-per-game as well. He held onto the latter title in 2017, rushing for 98.3 per contest, but sitting out six contests due to suspension.

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