Dallas Cowboys ‘Nobody’s Underdog!’ Beat Rams; Another Upset, 4th Straight Win- Mike Fisher, Sports Illustrated
McCarthy was right to express confidence in his squad.
“We’re nobody’s underdog!’’ said Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy as his streaking team prepped for Sunday’s Week 5 meeting at the Los Angeles Rams.
As I pointed out to him the following day at The Star, he was wrong in a literal sense; Dallas really was (much to McCarthy’s shock) a five-point underdog here.
But he was right in another sense, as the Cowboys proved at SoFi on Sunday: Dallas, 22- 10 upset winner, is better than the defending Super Bowl champs.
The 4-1 Cowboys captured a fourth straight win - and a third upset win - using a now-familiar formula as they await the return (maybe this week) of QB Dak Prescott, rehabbing from thumb surgery.
The defense led here by DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong and a sore-bodied Micah Parsons (who had two of Dallas’ five sacks) is merciless in attacking a foe’s weakness. and the Rams have a few of those in patchwork offensive line, a bad running game and battered QB Matthew Stafford, who entered the game having endured 16 sacks in four games …
Something special is happening with Dan Quinn’s unit.
Wide Receiver Cooper Kupp scored a 75-yard touchdown catch that pushed the score to 9-10. Just when the Rams thought they were gaining control of this game, Running Back Tony Pollard scored a 57-yard touchdown that took back the lead for Dallas.
Halftime came, and the score was 16-10, Cowboys with an impressive lead in this game. Before it started, the Cowboys were 5-point underdogs coming into Los Angeles, now they lead the defending Super Bowl champs.
In the next half, just when you thought the Dallas Cowboys defense couldn’t get any better, they do. No more points were scored for the Rams this game and the defense forced another fumble and an interception.
Meanwhile, Dallas scored a field goal in the 3rd and 4th quarters. A final score of 22-10 arose from the unlikely team. Cowboys, still without Quarterback Dak Prescott, managed to beat both the defending Super Bowl champions and the Runner-up Cincinnati Bengals within his absents.
A quick refresher on how the upset victory happened.
The Cowboys defense, and in particular Dorance Armstrong, showed their might right out of the gate. On the Rams’ opening possession, Stafford dropped back to pass on third-and-1 at his own 34-yard line, only to have the defensive end explode through the line and strip-sack the quarterback. DeMarcus Lawrence scooped up the bouncing ball and rumbled untouched 19 yards to the end zone to give Dallas the early lead.
Lawrence’s score was the first by the defense this season as well as the first by the unit since DeMarcus also crossed the goal line on an interception return last year on Dec. 26 vs. Washington.
But loss of long-snapper Jake McQuaide last week, out for the season with a torn triceps, may have been in play when a botched snap led to a missed extra point.
Armstrong was just getting warmed up, though. When Los Angeles was forced to punt from the Dallas 46-yard line, he burst by his blocker again, not only smothering the punt but also recovering the block and returning it to the Rams’ 20.
The Cowboys offense couldn’t make much progress, but this time the snap and hold was clean, allowing Brett Maher to split the uprights from 33 yards out. Dallas jumped out to a 9-0 lead, but perhaps valuable points were left on the field.
Especially when the Rams came right back and completed a 54-yard bomb down to the Cowboys’ 11-yard line. But the defense held, Los Angeles settling for a 29-yard field goal.
Dak shows a little humor in his most recent update on the thumb injury.
As Dak Prescott continues to work his way back from a right thumb injury, Dallas’ quarterback was reportedly looking for feedback from members of FOX’s broadcast on Sunday.
Per Yahoo’s Jori Epstein:
“FOX sideline reporter Tom Rinaldi says Cowboys QB Dak Prescott greeted him pregame with a handshake, asking ‘How’s my grip feel?’ Right thumb fracture continues to heal. Dak giving out fist pounds with his right hand, too”
Parsons finishing the game is a great sign, but the situation is worth monitoring with Philadelphia next up on the schedule.
In the first half versus the Rams, Parsons suffered a groin injury and walked gingerly to the locker room at halftime and had the same discomfort coming back out for the third quarter.
Parsons has played through injuries before and it may be no different in Los Angeles. His status is massive for the Cowboys’ defense as a whole and how they manage this discomfort is of the utmost concern in the second half. After spending time on the bike during the first Rams drive of the third quarter, Parsons retook the field.
Parsons is still laboring the injury during moments but Dallas is sending him on the field for third downs, mainly as a pass rusher but being careful with their star defender.
What are your thoughts on the Cowboys fourth straight victory?
8. Rough day for the rookie
It has been a great start for the Cowboys’ first-round rookie Tyler Smith, but Sunday was a little rough for him. He got flagged for a couple of holding penalties and gave up two sacks when Aaron Donald punished him off the edge.
It was a good test for the youngster, and if it’s any consolation, many offensive linemen get worked over by Donald. To his credit, he settled down as the game when on. Luckily, the Cowboys could lean on the running game to take some of the pressure off.
9. The last stands
After the Cowboys went up 22-10, the Rams marched straight down the field in record time and looked like they might get back in the game; however, the Cowboys’ defense had other plans. A holding penalty (caused by Parsons), a sack by Osa Odighizuwa, followed by a Malik Hooker pick thwarted their chances.
The defense followed that stand with another one the following series after Parsons willed his way through the left tackle and into the soul of Stafford. Game over.
10. The stage is set
It’s weird how they got here, but we are now looking at a huge battle for the NFC East lead next Sunday when the Cowboys play the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles kept their hot streak going by beating Arizona and remaining the only undefeated team in the NFL with a 5-0 record.
All the hype has been about the Eagles so far this season, but a big road win in Philly could put the league on notice that this Cowboys team is for real. And with Dak Prescott’s return coming soon, this is turning out to be a really interesting season.
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