This win was substantial in more ways than one.
It’s been a while ... the Cowboys haven’t had a backup quarterback win more than two games in a season since 2010.
They haven’t had a fumble return like Aldon Smith did for over 75 yards since 1999.
Heck, Ezekiel Elliott rushing the ball over 25 yards hasn’t happened since last year.
More importantly, it has been a while since the Cowboys left a stadium feeling like this – after dominating a game from start to finish.
There won’t be any talk of “effort” this week. There probably won’t be any talk about “tanking” or draft order – at least for right now.
The Cowboys control those things by how they play on the field. And on Sunday, they played like a team that was tired of getting kicked around. So they did a little kicking themselves.
Andy Dalton wanted a happy homecoming. But, the Cowboys played like they wanted it for him more. - Michael Gehlken, Dallas Morning News
This win was unlike any other for the Red Rifle...
Often, players who spend an extensive portion of their NFL career with one particular franchise downplay the personal significance of that first game against the former club. Certain phrases like “it’s just another game” might be muttered to reporters.
Dalton spared the façade.
Around The Star, the importance level was understood. He seemed to display added excitement during a short preparation week. Dalton played the role of tour guide Saturday on the team bus ride from the airport, talking to teammates en route to their downtown hotel.
Coach Mike McCarthy made Dalton the offense’s weekly captain. The role included the task to deliver a final message to the team in the locker room before kickoff. Dalton didn’t make it about himself, teammates said.
More on the Dalton and the Cowboys playing for him.
After the game, Dalton was doused with water by his teammates upon entering the locker room, celebrating a win that meant as much to him as it did to the Cowboys’ playoff chances.
“It feels good to come back where I was for a long time and to get a win,” Dalton said.
Dalton was one of the Cowboys’ three captains and made the final speech to the players before they came out for kickoff. After the game, he was presented with a game ball.
“This is definitely special for him, make no bones about it,” McCarthy said. “He wanted to win this game, but more importantly for everybody in the locker room, they wanted to win it for him.”
The win helped the Cowboys avoid going winless against the AFC North in 2020 (1-3) and stave off coach Mike McCarthy’s first double-digit loss season since 2008 and the Cowboys’ first double-digit loss season since 2015.
Coop’s been a staple on the receiving end all year long.
Sunday’s game wasn’t even gaudy statistically, but he did lead the team with four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. It might not have been a dominating performance, but Cooper once again proved to be a reliable option for Andy Dalton – not to mention, his 11-yard touchdown catch midway through the second quarter gave the Cowboys a commanding 17-0 lead.
“It always feels great to get a ‘W’ because I’ve been in this league a number of years and wins are not easy to come by,” he said.
It could have been a bigger day, too. With 5:55 to play in the game, Cooper beat his coverage easily on a slant-and-go and seemed to have an easy, 61-yard touchdown coming his way – only to watch Dalton find CeeDee Lamb over the middle, instead.
Given that the Cowboys won by 23 points, it’s funny instead of tragic – but that doesn’t mean Dalton didn’t hear about it.
This is exhausting’: Bengals get blown out by Andy Dalton’s Dallas Cowboys - Charlie Goldsmith, Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati’s had enough of their losing slide:
During most of the Bengals games this season, Taylor didn’t make many lineup changes during the game. But Taylor clearly didn’t like what he saw against the Cowboys.
In the first half, Taylor benched his starting left tackle. In the second half, Taylor benched his starting outside cornerback. He benched the first string running back three different times.
The Bengals still lost by 23 points.
“It’s been frustrating for everybody, just not me,” said wide receiver A.J. Green, who had 62 receiving yards. “You play this game long enough, there are always going to be bumps along the way.”
Spoiler: it probably won’t happen.
Jones specifically took the blame for the franchise’s error in judgment in allowing Mike McCarthy and the new coaching staff to install a new defense without the benefit of a normal summer.
“Every bit of it,” Jones said, admitting the problem and then accepting the blame. “And then right past that, go right to your general manager. Right past (blaming coaches), go to your general manager, because coming through the door, the GM was eye-to-eye hiring the head coach, talking about how we were going to approach when he walks through the door and where he was going to go from there.’’
Jones is often accused of putting profit ahead of winning. Whatever Dallas’ flaws are, he insisted, that isn’t one of them, noting, “I had money before I bought the Cowboys and gave it all up (in the purchase of the franchise) to be involved in the NFL.’’
McCarthy’s fate is a positive one. At least for now.
When the Dallas Cowboys sought a new head coach to replace Jason Garrett, they were sold on Mike McCarthy instantly. After hearing about how he embraced analytics and watched every snap of the team’s game, only to admit later he lied to help get the job.
Things haven’t gone well in Dallas this season. Between injuries along the offensive line, a woeful defense and Dak Prescott’s gruesome injury, the team finds itself at the bottom of the NFC East. Along the way, McCarthy has made a series of baffling decisions and been called out by players.
On ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, Chris Mortensen reported that McCarthy’s job in Dallas is safe. Jerry Jones is giving no consideration to firing him after one season, even if the team loses its final four games.
Entering Week 14 with a 3-8 record, the best-case scenario for Dallas is a 7-9 record. With the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants remaining on the schedule, there’s a real chance Dallas finished 4-12 in 2020.
NFL Week 14 grades: Cowboys get an ‘A’ for pummeling Bengals, Giants get ‘D-’ for no-show against Cardinals - John Breech, CBS Sports
This was ‘Boys best game all year, top to bottom.
Every time the Cowboys are left for dead in the NFC East race, they somehow crawl back into it and that’s exactly what they did on Sunday. In a game they had to win, the Cowboys went into Cincinnati and trounced the Bengals 30-7.
Although this was billed as the Andy Dalton revenge game, Dalton didn’t actually have to do any of the dirty work and that’s because the Cowboys defense got revenge on the Bengals for him.
The Cowboys forced a turnover on each of Cincinnati’s first three possessions and that was a big reason Dallas was able to roll to the win. The biggest play of the game came on Cincinnati’s second possession when Bengals running back Trayveon Williams lost the football on a butt-fumble! Not only was there a butt-fumble, but Aldon Smith ended up picking up the ball and running 78 yards for a touchdown to give Dallas an early 10-0 lead.
The fact that the Cowboys recovered a three fumbles in this game was a minor miracle when you consider that they had only recovered a total of six fumbles in their first 12 games of the year. Going into Week 14, the Cowboys were on pace to have one of the worst defenses in NFL history, but apparently all they needed to do to fix things was play the Bengals.
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