Once again led by their dominant defense, the Dallas Cowboys smothered Matt Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams offense en route to a 22-10 victory. The offensive fireworks were far and few between but one player was explosive. Here are the players who were integral in the Cowboys picking up their fourth straight win.
Tony Pollard is truly sick with it.
Tony Pollard entered this week’s contest against the Los Angeles Rams listed as questionable with an illness. Despite popping up in the injury report late in the week, the team was optimistic that he would be able to play and man are they glad that he did.
It’s no secret that without quarterback Dak Prescott the Cowboys offense is a lot more conservative and very dependent on the running game. Not only that, they are considerably more averse to taking chances down the field. Tony Pollard is the perfect balance of conservatism and explosiveness. No better example of that than a 57-yard touchdown run.
Tony Pollard breaks free for 57-yard TD!!— Sky Sports NFL (@SkySportsNFL) October 9, 2022
What a run by the Cowboys back, regaining them the lead shortly after Cooper Kupp scored on a 75-yard catch and run for the Rams
Watch on Sky Sports NFL
After surrendering a 9-0 lead, the Cowboys had just lost the game’s momentum after allowing ten consecutive points. At their own 43-yard line, Pollard took the handoff from Cooper Rush and burst through the Rams’ defensive line. Evading tacklers, and darting from right to left, Pollard’s big play took back the momentum from the Rams and reinvigorated a Dallas Cowboys crowd that took over SoFi Stadium. The Dallas offense didn’t throw many punches but Pollard’s play was a haymaker the Rams never recovered from.
Dorance does it again
Dorance Armstrong’s improvement cannot be ignored when it comes to analyzing why the Cowboys’ defense continues to dismantle opposing offenses. The fifth-year defensive end continues to flourish under defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who has allowed Armstrong to play in a multitude of spots along the defensive line.
On the third play of the opening drive, Armstrong was lined up at defensive tackle and over Rams offensive lineman David Edwards. Almost immediately after the snap, Armstrong crosses Edwards’ face and is on a direct line to Matthew Stafford. Stafford coughs the ball up and Demarcus Lawrence recovers the ensuing fumble for a 19-yard score.
Armstrong wasn’t done yet. After blocking a field goal attempt against the Giants two weeks ago, Armstrong continues to deliver in the most forgotten phase of the game. After the Rams were forced to punt after their second drive, he knifed through the punt protection, blocking a Riley Dixon punt. With each passing week, Armstrong continues to demonstrate why if teams are not going to give him any extra attention he’s going to keep making them pay.
Osa Odighizuwa bulldozes depleted Rams offensive line
The Los Angeles Rams were well aware they were going to face an uphill battle against the Cowboys’ pass rush. Due to injury, the Rams’ offensive line has been in flux lately. Osa Odhighizuwa didn’t care and effortlessly brushed aside the Los Angeles reserve offensive lineman.
In recent matchups against the Rams, Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay has had success running the football against the Cowboys. That was not the case on Sunday as Odighizuwa and company made Cam Akers virtually invisible. Collectively the Rams ran the ball fifteen times for 38 yards on a measly 2.5 yards per carry and Odighizuwa had a hand in that.
Furthermore, Odighizuwa impacted the Los Angeles passing game, more specifically, Matthew Stafford. He recorded two tackles for loss, four quarterback hits on Stafford along with one sack. Odighizuwa flashed his quickness and disruptive traits and the Rams’ offensive lineman crumbled under the bright lights as a result of it.
Business as usual
Another day at the office for the decorated all-pro Zack Martin. As stated earlier, the lack of firepower in the Cowboys’ offensive attack means they have to rely more heavily on the running game. That means putting more in terms of running the football on the broad shoulders of Zack Martin, which isn’t a bad thing apparently.
On more than a few occasions was Martin able to get a push against the Rams’ defensive line. On Pollard’s touchdown run, Martin got the initial block to create a hole for Pollard but was able to reach the second level to also set a block on Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner, setting Pollard loose in the Los Angeles secondary.
However, it is the dirty work that stands out. Pollard’s running back counterpart Ezekiel Elliott, had a solid, if unspectacular, day due in large to Martin. Elliott just rushed for 78 yards. Still, those gritty runs behind Zack Martin for four or five yards allowed the Cowboys to stay in manageable downs and control the tempo of the game. The performance of Zack Martin helped to limit Aaron Donald from disrupting the running game.
Maher is still money
Prior to beginning the regular season putting the words “reliable” and “Brett Maher” in the same sentence would have seemed outlandish. Yet, can anyone make the claim that he hasn’t been this season? Maher is striking his kicks with ease and with exceptional accuracy. “Money” Maher is becoming a kicker the Cowboys can bank on. Once again he was perfect on Sunday and made all three of his field goal attempts and one extra point, with the other extra point being a problem with the long snapper.
Maher’s ten points matched that of the entire Los Angeles Rams team. Points are at a premium for Dallas at this point and they need all the points they can get. Whether Dak Prescott returns as the starter next week or Cooper Rush continues to be in the starting lineup, the need for Maher’s newfound improvements will remain a vital part of the team’s success. Hopefully, Maher continues to be a consistent performer because it looks like they’re going to need it.