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Cowboys top ten plays of the (almost) first half

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These were the highlights of the Cowboys 4-3 start.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The bye week gives us all an opportunity to take a breath and look back at what the 2019 season has been thus for for the Dallas Cowboys. It also gives us a chance to relive some of the best plays of the the (nearly) first half. These are ranked 10 to 1 but you could easily move them around. Let’s get started:

10. Dak Prescott scramble and completion to Jason Witten

  • Opponent: Miami
  • Week: 3
  • Quarter: 1st
  • Score: Cowboys 3, Dolphins 0
  • Yard-line: Dallas 47
  • Down/distance: 3rd-and-20
  • Result: 33-yard completion for a first down

This play has so much so much to like. Dak improvising and making a play on the run is something we’ve seen before. So is Jason Witten making himself available to his quarterback when in need; though it was nice to see him doing this on his return engagement.

The really impressive thing, though, is the Cowboys converting on a third and extremely long situation. Last year’s Cowboys truly struggled on third and long but the 2019 version leads the league in conversions of 3rd-and-10 or greater. Plays like this are why.

This drive would end in an Amari Cooper touchdown catch, giving the Cowboys an early 10-0 lead.

9. Dak Prescott completion to Amari Cooper for sensational sideline catch

  • Opponent: Philadelphia
  • Week: 7
  • Quarter: 4th
  • Score: Cowboys 27, Eagles 10
  • Yard-line: Philadelphia 44
  • Down/distance: 3rd-and-6
  • Result: 28-yard completion for a first down

The Cowboys were already well in control of this “contest” against the Eagles when Amari Cooper launched his body several yards in the air for a fingertip catch, while also getting both feet in bounds despite very good coverage.

This is an elite, high-difficulty catch that is virtually unstoppable. If Cooper is adding this kind of play to his elite route-running he has the potential to be even more productive than he already is.

8. Michael Gallup touchdown catch

  • Opponent: Green Bay
  • Week: 5
  • Quarter: 3rd
  • Score: Packers 31, Cowboys 3
  • Yard-line: Green Bay 40
  • Down/distance: 2nd-and-4
  • Result: 40-yard touchdown completion

This is all Michael Gallup. The Cowboys have been thoroughly dominated through this point of the game, down 28 points. Prescott takes a deep shot and does well to get the ball downfield as he gets hammered right as he lets the ball go. It is underthrown to the inside, however. Gallup is well-covered, but adjusts his route, cutting underneath the defender then holding onto the ball despite physical coverage and then muscling his way into the end zone. It was a brilliant play and jump-started the Cowboys to 21 points in the final 17 minutes.

7. Dak Prescott 42-yard scramble

  • Opponent: Washington
  • Week: 2
  • Quarter: 2nd
  • Score: Redskins 7, Cowboys 7
  • Yard-line: Cowboys 38
  • Down/distance: 3rd-and-1
  • Result: 42-yard first down run

Facing a short third down near midfield, Kellen Moore dials up a read-option play for Dak. Prescott fakes the ball to Ezekiel Elliott then runs around the edge to pick up the first down. A good block from Randall Cobb (that could have been called holding) enabled Dak to break into the open and it briefly looked like he might go the distance. He slowed, however, hoping to cut inside a Gallup block on Josh Norman but Norman outpaced Gallup.

Nonetheless, it was a big-time gain (and career-long run) by the Dallas quarterback and eventually led to a short Jason Witten touchdown to give the Cowboys a 14-7 lead they would never relinquish.

6. Jaylon Smith sack

  • Opponent: New Orleans
  • Week: 4
  • Quarter: 4th
  • Score: Saints 12, Cowboys 10
  • Yard-line: Cowboys 31-yard line
  • Down/distance: 3rd-and-8
  • Result: 16-yard loss

Dallas was in desperation mode at this point of the game. New Orleans had a primary goal and a secondary goal here:

  • A first down would allow them to run the clock out and end the game
  • Anything short of a first down would still allow them to kick a field goal and force the Cowboys to drive for a touchdown with little time left and no timeouts.

The Cowboys’ defense and Jaylon Smith had other ideas. The four-man rush used twist stunts on both sides which first enabled Justin March to penetrate from the inside. Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater pirouetted, turning his back on the play and right into the arms of Jaylon Smith. Smith had looped all the way from the other side around the entire Saints’ offensive line, using his speed and athleticism to record the sack.

It was a mammoth play that knocked the Saints out of field goal range and gave the Cowboys a chance to win with only a field goal. Alas it was not to be, but had the Cowboys come back this would have been the play that enabled the win.

5. Tavon Austin touchdown run

  • Opponent: Philadelphia
  • Week: 7
  • Quarter: 1st
  • Score: Cowboys 0, Eagles 0
  • Yard-line: Eagles 20-yard line
  • Down/distance: 3rd-and-2
  • Result: 20-yard touchdown run

The Cowboys were pretty much facing a must-win situation in week 7, facing off against the Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams came into the game struggling and whoever lost would be facing a deep hole. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch combined to force a Dallas Goedert fumble recovered by Maliek Collins on the game’s first series.

Given their first short field of the season, the Cowboys’ offense would need only five plays to convert the turnover into seven points. The Dallas brain-trust had come under fire in the team’s ugly loss to the New York Jets for returning to the boring, conservative, predictable play-calling that had plagued the team throughout 2018.

No such complaints after Kellen Moore called for a triple-option play where Dak had the choice to hand the ball to Zeke, run it himself or make the pitch to a trailing Tavon Austin. Dak chose the final option and chose wisely.

Given gobs of room to run Austin did what he does best and ran around the defense, embarrassing former Cowboys Orlando Scandrick in the process. It was the first of many explosive plays against the beleaguered Eagles’ defense.

4. Amari Cooper touchdown catch

  • Opponent: New York Giants
  • Week: 1
  • Quarter: 2nd
  • Score: Cowboys 14, Giants 7
  • Yard-line: Giants 21-yard line
  • Down/distance: 3rd-and-5
  • Result: 21-yard touchdown completion

Late in the first half of the Cowboys’ opening week contest they held to a seven-point lead and faced 3rd-and-five. Dak Prescott saw Amari Cooper facing single coverage against a rookie cornerback and knew exactly where he was going with the ball. Dak froze the safety with an initial look right then lofted an absolutely perfect pass down the sideline.

Cooper had beaten the rookie and ran under the ball without so much as an adjustment in his stride. It was a perfectly executed play from beginning to end and I’m not sure anyone could have stopped it. #Perfection

3. DeMarcus Lawrence strip-sack

  • Opponent: Philadelphia
  • Week: 7
  • Quarter: 1st
  • Score: Cowboys 7, Eagles 0
  • Yard-line: Eagles 16-yard line
  • Down/distance: 2nd-and-4
  • Result: Fumble recovered by Dallas

Having already taken an early 7-0 lead over the Eagles in their key divisional match-up, Dallas immediately delivered another shock as defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence raced around Lane Johnson then dove to strip the ball from quarterback Carson Wentz.

Antwuan Woods would recover and two plays later Ezekiel Elliot would score to give Dallas a 14-0 lead only six minutes into the game. The Eagles would never recover, eventually losing 37-10.

2. Devin Smith touchdown catch

  • Opponent: Washington
  • Week: 2
  • Quarter: 2nd
  • Score: Redskins 7, Cowboys 0
  • Yard-line: Cowboys 49-yard line
  • Down/distance: 2nd-and-7
  • Result: 51-yard touchdown reception

The Dallas offense struggled over the first 20 minutes of their week two contest against the Washington Redskins. Two punts and an interception had left the team facing an early 7-0 deficit. All that changed on one play. Facing 2nd-and-five the Cowboys employed play-action to allow Dak to take a deep shot on a well-designed play.

Newcomer Devin Smith faced one-on-one coverage with outside leverage and used his speed to run past and away from cornerback Josh Norman. Prescott again threw a perfectly placed ball that allowed Smith to run under it and into the end zone for this first career score.

That opened the floodgates as Dallas would score 31 points on their next five drives en route to an eventual 31-21 victory.

Honorable mentions

Before we move on to our number one Cowboys play on the season lets take a look at a few honorable mentions.

Tony Pollard touchdown run

Just a great run for the rookie’s first career touchdown to finish off the Dolphins.

Dak Prescott completion to Randall Cobb

Bob Sturm called this the best pass of Prescott’s career. And considering the situation and degree of difficulty it’s hard to argue. Dak has to get the ball downfield here for Dallas to have any hope at all and the Saints know it. That’s why there’s three defenders around the ball yet Dak threads the needle and delivers a strike. Dallas would come up short but this play... just wow.

Jourdan Lewis interception

All he does is make plays. If only he were taller maybe he could get on the field more often.

Ezekiel Elliott runs over Malcoln Jenkins

Amazingly we haven’t seen any plays from Ezekiel Elliott on this list. Here, however, he delivered an early message to the Eagles.

Brett Maher 63-yard field goal

When you’re hammering the Eagles, another drive of the nail sure feels good.

Tony Pollard runs around Eagles

Elliott’s backfield mate took a more nuanced approach to beating the Eagles, showing tremendous balance and running with determination.

And now, our number one play of the (nearly) first half for the 2019 Dallas Cowboys:

1. Amari Cooper catch-and-run touchdown

  • Opponent: Green Bay
  • Week: 5
  • Quarter: 4th
  • Score: Packers 34, Cowboys 17
  • Yard-line: Cowboys 47-yard line
  • Down/distance: 1st-and-10
  • Result: 53-yard touchdown

This is just a big-time play by a big-time player. Facing a truly desperate situation Cooper shows off all his skills in one play. First, he uses his next-level route running to get loose deep. He then uses strength to shrug off his already-beaten defender. Finally, with another defender clearly having an angle and the sidelines on his left, Cooper employs a perfectly-timed spin-a-rama to run past the failed tackle and waltz into the end zone.

Again, the play featured a perfectly placed Dak Prescott throw which allowed Cooper to make the yards-after-catch. The touchdown put Dallas within 10 with 7+ minutes remaining and gave Cowboys’ fans brief hope for a monumental comeback that wasn’t to be.

So Cowboys fans...agree or disagree? Which was your favorite play of the season thus far?

Poll

Which was the best play of the season thus far?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Cooper TD catch and run vs GB?
    (125 votes)
  • 6%
    Smith TD catch vs Wash?
    (19 votes)
  • 9%
    Lawrence strip-sack vs Phi?
    (26 votes)
  • 1%
    Cooper TD catch vs NYG?
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    Austin TD run vs Phi?
    (8 votes)
  • 4%
    Jaylon Smith sack vs NO?
    (11 votes)
  • 5%
    Dak scramble vs Wash?
    (14 votes)
  • 4%
    Gallup TD catch vs GB?
    (13 votes)
  • 10%
    Cooper sideline catch vs Phi?
    (30 votes)
  • 5%
    Prescott scramble and pass to Witten vs Miami?
    (15 votes)
  • 4%
    Other?
    (11 votes)
275 votes total Vote Now