Man, what a difference a week makes for a Dallas Cowboys team that was embarrassed by the Denver Broncos last week. It really was like night and day for the Cowboys. Dak Prescott was back to his accurate self, the running game was impactful and the defense was able to get pressure and create turnovers. Let’s take a look at the Cowboys impressive 43-3 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
From top to bottom this was a complete team win for the Dallas Cowboys; all three phases performed at the highest levels we’ve seen this season. The offense was clicking on all cylinders and just looked like they couldn’t be stopped. The defense, one week after not being able to stop the run, was able to contain the Falcons offense and they created turnovers. Special teams got a score of their own on a blocked punt. Great team effort this week and one that allows Cowboy fans to forget about last week.
The game plan was simple, on offense get Prescott into a rhythm early so he could gain confidence and also give the Cowboys running backs room to run, and Kellen Moore did that to perfection. On defense, the plan was to stick tight to the Falcons depleted receiving corps and force quarterback Matt Ryan to make tough throws. The defense was also playing with extra motivation in wanting to get the win for their defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Head coach Mike McCarthy stayed aggressive early in the game by going for it on fourth down, and had hsi team ready to play from the moment the game started. Special teams coordinator John Fassel got his players in for another blocked punt. A great day for the coaching staff.
When they take about knocking the rust off when returning from an injury, look at how Prescott played last week compared to this week as a prime example. Prescott came out and made a statement that he’s back, doing it through the air with two touchdowns, and adding one rushing touchdown. He was efficient, accurate, and composed in the pocket, a great sign for the Cowboys moving forward. It was a very strong performance from Prescott as he continues to prove he is the leader of the team and the right quarterback for this offense.
Running Backs: A-
The Cowboys got a solid game out of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard even though the rushing yardage wasn’t spectacular. Elliott was able to find the endzone twice on short goal line runs and both backs were also effective in the passing game as well picking up yards when the Cowboys needed them to. These two have fully accepted the fact that you don’t need to pad stats to help the team win. They just need to grind and make plays whether they are running the ball, catching it, or protecting Prescott in the passing game. Zeke did a phenomenal job of picking up blitzes. Hopefully, Elliott's fumble isn’t a sign of things to come because last year it became a big problem.
Wide Receivers: A
It was nice to see all of the Cowboys starting receivers back on the field at the same time for the first time since week one. All three were able to come up with big catches for the Cowboys offense this week with CeeDee Lamb finding the endzone twice in this game and leading the team in yards with 94 on the night. Amari Cooper added 51 yards, and Michael Gallup had 42 yards in his return. Now that Gallup is back on the field as the Cowboys deep threat, he should open up the field for Lamb and Cooper to work on cornerbacks in more one-on-one situations, that benefits the Cowboys every time thanks to their route-running prowess.
Tight Ends: B
It wasn’t a good or bad night for the Cowboys tight ends this week as Dalton Schultz and Sean McKeon combined for just three catches for 29 yards. Their presence was felt more in the blocking game this week giving assistance to Terence Steele on the left side at times, and helping to seal the edge in the running game. With the way the Cowboys wide receivers were performing you can see why they weren’t really a part of the game plan for the Cowboys this week, but they will have their time to shine again soon enough.
Offensive Line: A
A second week without Tyron Smith protecting Prescott’s blindside seemed to go a lot better for the Cowboys this week. Last week they gave up two sacks, and tons of pressure, to the Broncos, but this week the Cowboys kept Prescott from being sacked and Terence Steele looked a lot better than he did last week. It was a nice rebound game from this Cowboys offensive line and hopefully, they are able to get Smith back next week.
Defensive Line: B+
There was plenty of worry about the Cowboys losing defensive end Randy Gregory for three weeks to a calf strain, but the Cowboys have enough talent to keep pressure on opposing quarterbacks as they were able to get two more sacks. Dorance Armstrong had a strong performance making plays in the backfield and blocking a punt that would go for a Cowboys touchdown. Micah Parsons got back into the pass rushing game by adding another sack this week to pad his already impressive stat line for the season. The Falcons did find some footing running the ball, going for over 100 yards on the day, and you wonder how they would have done had Cordarrelle Patterson not got hurt and they hadn’t fallen behind by so much.
Micah Parsons is a mad man on the field for the Cowboys defense, and paired with either Leighton Vander Esch or Keanu Neal, he makes them better. Teams have started focusing their attention on getting a hat on Parsons with is allowing Vander Esch and Neal to get in on the action but overall this was a Parsons day. He led the team with six tackles and had a sack on the night. That’s now six sacks on the season and 58 combined tackles on the season. Neal had a productive four tackles while Vander Esch added three.
The Cowboys secondary lucked out this week as they didn't have to face the full complement of Falcons receivers with Calvin Ridley taking time away from football for his mental health. The way the Cowboys secondary played this week might have been able to control this passing game even if Ridley was on the field. After two games without an interception, they picked off Matt Ryan three times with Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, and Trevon Diggs all making plays on the ball. The Cowboys safeties were able to help stop the Falcons tight end, Kyle Pitts, by helping over the top. Jayron Kearse pitched in six tackles and had a huge pass breakup to force a field goal from the Falcons. It was an excellent performance once from the secondary.