The Dallas Cowboys were victorious for the first time this season on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers so food will tase better, the sun will shine brighter, and generally speaking everything will be greater this week.
While the Cowboys themselves were winners there were other winners throughout the contest. Certain players stood out more and were pivotal in Dallas’ run to victory (no pun intended) which is what we are here to discuss today.
It’s time for winners, losers, and honorable mentions. In a bit of positivity we have less losers than normal. Let’s begin.
Winner: Tony Pollard
What a phenomenal performance by Tony Pollard.
Many Cowboys fans have wanted to see Pollard incorporated into the offense at a higher frequency for some time. Things just lent in his direction on Sunday and good for Kellen Moore for steering that way.
Pollard finished with 140 total yards from scrimmage, the game’s first score, and several key plays. The biggest winner on the team.
Winner: Jayron Kearse
There is no particular play that is going to show up for Jayron Kearse in the box score and a big reason for that is a fluky DPI call that went against him and took away his interception.
While that is absent from the game’s official record Jayron was everywhere throughout this game. He was making play son the ball and even pressuring Justin Herbert in some instances.
It is very strange to see the Cowboys have depth at the safety position.
Winner: Trevon Diggs
The interception that Trevon had against Tampa was a bit of luck as it came on a tipped pass, but the one that he had against Los Angeles was totally and unequivocally total and complete skill.
Trevon Diggs has two interceptions in as many games this season and is looking like he is taking the step that many people expected from him this season. The moments aren’t always 100% amazing, but you can see that bright things are indeed on the way.
Winner: Damontae Kazee
There are actually two Cowboys defensive backs who have generated turnovers in each of the team’s first two games. Damontae Kazee’s interception on Sunday went a long way at securing the victory.
What was particularly notable about Kazee’s interception was that he immediately lunged himself back into the endzone so as to secure a touchback where his offense would have the ball at the 20-yard line. If he had tried to run the ball out there is no way that he would have gotten that far. That type of heads-up play is nice to see from a veteran back there.
Winner: Terence Steele
There is an argument to be made that Terence Steele is more deserving of the “biggest winner” title than Tony Pollard. He proved A LOT of people wrong on Sunday.
Steele didn’t totally eliminate Joey Bosa, but he rendered him as neutralized as the Cowboys needed him to be. It was a phenomenal performance.
Loser: John Fassel
There is a benefit to being aggressive in football. There is no denying it.
But John Fassel is starting to get a bit reckless with his behavior as the Cowboys Special Teams Coordinator. He sent the house on 4th and 20 near the end of the first half and wound up seeing his group commit a penalty that kept the ball out of his offense’s hands.
This type of dice-rolling is unnecessary. We have seen the special teams improve to a degree under Bones, but the bar was extremely low. Ultimately the benefit isn’t outweighing the cost and the team needs to seriously reconsider things here.
There were 20 penalties called in this game. TWENTY.
Both teams were penalized in ways that they shouldn’t have been. But the point is that no NFL game should be officiated like this.
Loser: Defense on third and long
The Cowboys allowed multiple conversions from the Chargers on third downs that featured 10 or more yards to go. That there was even one of those conversions is enough of an indictment.
Overall the Cowboys defense played rather well and carried their end of things, but they need to finish things off as opposed to letting everything go at the very end.
Honorable Mention: Greg Zuerlein
We are still not at a place of total trust, but if you kick a game-winning field goal you get a shout out. Good for Greg Zuerlein. He went four for four on all of his kicks, too.
Honorable Mention: Leighton Vander Esch
The Cowboys asked a lot from their linebackers in this game and Leighton Vander Esch delivered on his portion. He had an important sack as the second quarter wound down and ultimately stifled Justin Herbert enough throughout the game. Good for him.
Honorable Mention: Micah Parsons
It says an awful lot about how they view him that Micah Parsons was was asked by the Cowboys to see time at defensive end with all of the issues that the group is facing. Micah did it - in his second NFL game ever - and did not look out of place.
Parsons is going to be a special defensive player. It will be exciting to see him back at linebacker.
Honorable Mention: Osa Odighizuwa
The Cowboys defense was constantly in Justin Herbert’s face and while he never got home rookie defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa was often in the mix.
Much was obviously made about the role that Parsons took on with DeMarcus Lawrence injured, but Odighizuwa has been picking things up in the absence of Neville Gallimore for almost a month now.
Honorable Mention: Jaylon Smith
Far be it from me to stoke any flames, but Jaylon Smith played well relative to what was asked of him on Sunday.
The Cowboys relied on their linebacker depth as we mentioned with LVE and they put together a defensive performance that the group can look back and be proud of. Jaylon was a part of that in his own way and deserves some kudos.
We put together highlights from the game (including the controversial 4th and 20 punt) on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel. Make sure to subscribe to our channel (which you can do right here) so you don’t miss any of our videos!