The Dallas Cowboys managed to turn a blowout into a nail-biter by almost squandering a huge lead against the Washington Football Team, but in the end held on to a 27-20 win. Obviously winning the game is the most important thing. The Cowboys moved to 9-4 and have almost wrapped up the NFC East. This is all good.
On the flip side, the Cowboys offense was erratic once again and Dak Prescott still hasn’t regained his early-season form and threw a horrible pick-six to make a mess of things at the end. The offense wasn’t without some life, but when it came to punching it into the end zone, they failed too often leading to four Greg Zuerlein field goals. There will be plenty of time this week to look at why the Cowboys offense can’t find its rhythm.
But the Cowboys defense has arrived. The addition of DeMarcus Lawrence last week, and the arrivals of Randy Gregory and Neville Gallimore this week, has that side of the ball looking like contenders. They’ll need for the offense to catch up, but this defense can carry them for a while.
The Cowboys front seven dominated the game, especially in the first half when they basically shut out the Football Team’s offense in every category - points, yards, first downs, almost everything was heavily tilted in the Cowboys’ favor. And they were not only stopping Washington, they were turning the ball over and scoring points.
No two players came up bigger than Micah Parsons and Randy Gregory. For their efforts, they each get a half of the game ball.
Parsons just keeps getting better. His ceiling now appears to be among the elites of the game based on the company he is keeping in his rookie season. Already the Defensive Rookie of the Year (well, not officially) and gunning for Defensive Player of the Year, he could do something that hasn’t been done since Lawrence Taylor did it by winning both awards. Parsons finished the game with two sacks, a forced fumble that was taken in for a touchdown by Dorance Armstrong, and three tackles with one TFL.
Joining him is Randy Gregory. Welcome back #94. Gregory had an interception on a remarkably athletic play of tipping the ball to himself on a screen pass. He also got a sack that forced a fumble which the Cowboys recovered. It wasn’t just any ol’ sack either, it was to basically seal the win for the Cowboys after they had let Washington back in it.
And that doesn’t even tell the whole story of the defensive line. DeMarcus Lawrence got a sack and had two tackles for loss, and Neville Gallimore also got a sack in his return to the defense. All four players spent good parts of the game in the Washington backfield making like miserable for Taylor Heinicke, and then Kyle Allen after Heinicke was hurt and had to sit out.
Regardless of everything else that went on with the game, including some more penalties and a spotty performance by the offense, the idea of Parsons, Gregory, Lawrence and Gallimore rushing the passer is going to terrify some opposing quarterbacks the rest of the season.
The Cowboys still have some things to figure out, especially whatever it is that is causing Prescott to slump. But this defense should keep them in a lot of games the rest of the way.