This is the Dallas Cowboys team we’ve been waiting to see all season. They finally played a complete-game and were dominant in all three phases in Week 10 against the Atlanta Falcons. There are a lot of things we can take away from this impressive victory, mostly highs, but there are a few under-the-radar observations you may have missed.
Cowboys special teams making game-changing plays
In back-to-back weeks the Dallas Cowboys special teams have come through in a big way, or would have come through in the case of last week. Unfortunately, a rather bizarre rule overturned a blocked punt in Week 9 against the Denver Broncos, but they redeemed themselves this week against the Atlanta Falcons with yet another blocked punt that resulted in a touchdown.
These are the types of game-changing plays we’ve been expecting from John Fassel, one the most well-respected special teams coaches in the league. He’s known for his aggressiveness and trickery, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the Cowboys special teams units in the second half of the season.
Dorance Armstrong’s taking advantage of opportunity
Without their top two pass rushers, DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, the Cowboys needed someone to step up and fill the void until they are able to return from injured reserve. No one really knew who would fill their shoes, that was until Dorance Armstrong decided to take advantage of the opportunity.
Cowboys DE Dorance Armstrong made his presence felt in Sunday’s win over Falcons. He played 38 defensive snaps amid absence of DE Randy Gregory (calf, IR). Armstrong’s lone snap on punt return team was a memorable one. pic.twitter.com/CiF1V4ozB1— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) November 15, 2021
Armstrong definitely made his presence felt against the Falcons Sunday afternoon. He ended up making several impressive plays that helped lead the Cowboys to victory. With Lawrence and Gregory out for a few more weeks, Dallas will need much more of this from No. 92.
Early reinforcements already making a difference
While Michael Gallup hadn’t played since Week 1 this year and Trysen Hill hadn’t played at all this season, both players ended up making some key plays in Week 10 for the Dallas Cowboys. Both players showed a little rust in their return to action, but they were also welcomed additions to the Cowboys roster.
Cowboys WR Michael Gallup left alone on fourth-and-3 for 23-yard catch. Dallas is 2-for-2 on fourth down. Both conversions led to touchdowns. Cowboys up 21-3 on Falcons.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) November 14, 2021
Now that both Gallup and Hill have knocked off a little bit of rust, they should continue to improve and play a key role with the Cowboys moving forward. What’s even more exciting is the fact they are just a small percentage of the reinforcements Dallas could be getting back in the next few weeks.
Terence Steele proving to be an invaluable swing tackle
There was a little bit of fear Terence Steele would have a Chaz Green-type of performance against the Falcons after the way he played the week prior against the Denver Broncos, but luckily that didn’t happen. He ended up playing really well in only his second career start at left tackle, so much so, he was pretty much an afterthought.
Steele’s impressive play will ease a lot of minds about protecting Dak Prescott’s blindside until Tyron Smith can return to action. What’s most impressive about No. 78’s play is the fact he’s never really played left tackle in his career, not even in college. As a swing tackle, playing on both the right and left side this year, he’s been invaluable for the Cowboys.
Greg Zuerlein who? Lirim Hajrullahu filling in nicely
With the Cowboys starting kicker out in Week 10 against the Atlanta Falcons, Lirim Hajrullahu walked in off the street and had a perfect outing in his first career game in the NFL.
Lirim Hajrullahu is perfect 5/5 on kicks today.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) November 14, 2021
Pretty impressive for his first NFL game.
Hajrullahu probably benefited from the fact none of his kicking attempts where in a do-or-die situation and were just extra points, but you still have to give him credit for being perfect regardless of the situation. We’re not sure when Zuerlein will reclaim his starting job, so this confidence-boosting performance could come in handy down the road.