The Dallas Cowboys are winners of three straight as they continue to survive games without their starting quarterback, Dak Prescott. It was a little shaky at first, but in the end, the Cowboys got the job done. Here are ten thoughts on the Cowboys' victory over the Washington Commanders.
1. This defense is legitimately good
If it’s hard to imagine how the Cowboys are 3-1 without their starting quarterback, then look no further than the outstanding job the defense has done. Even when the offense sputters and puts together a less-than-stellar scoring performance, the Cowboys are still able to come away with the win because the defense just doesn’t give up many points.
The defensive line is pressuring the quarterback, the linebackers are tackling, and the secondary continues to make plays. It’s an all-around effort from an all-around talented group. The Cowboys entered the week tied with just four red zone appearances by their opponents and only allowed one against Washington. And once again, they didn’t give up 20 points.
The Cowboys have allowed fewer than 19 points in each of their first four games for the first time since 1973.— rabblerousr (@rabblerousr) October 2, 2022
Nineteen. Seventy. Three.
2. Third and forever
Washington had a good offensive plan coming into this game as they were committed to taking pressure off of Carson Wentz after he was sacked nine times last week. The key was keeping Wentz in manageable third-down situations. When they were effective running the ball or executing short passes, it worked out. But when pressed to throw the ball, they found themselves going in the wrong direction.
In each of the Commanders' first three possessions, they faced third downs with more than 10 yards to go, and in each of those instances, they had to punt. Between tackles for losses, sacks, or holding/intentional grounding penalties, Washington put themselves in tough third-down situations and the Cowboys defense would just tee off.
3. Second chances for Rush
The headlines will read a perfect 4-0 start as the Cowboys' backup quarterback once again put together a solid effort.
Passing yards for Cooper Rush this year...— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) October 2, 2022
Week 2: 235 yards
Week 3: 215 yards
Week 4: 223 yards
You know what you're getting with Rush and you can almost set your watch to it.
Rush played well, but it shouldn’t go without mentioning that he threw two interceptions that were called back by penalties. First, an illegal contact penalty negated an underthrown pass intended for Noah Brown that ended up in the hands of a Washington defender. Then later, the Commanders got flagged for defensive holding on a play where Rush tried to hit Tony Pollard on a wheel route that initially was intercepted by the safety.
4. Nice to have you back, 13
Michael Gallup made his season debut after recovering from a knee injury he suffered back in Week 17 of last year. It was a relatively quiet game for Gallup as he finished with just two catches for 24 yards. However, one of those catches went for a nine -yard touchdown after Cooper Rush scrambled to his right.
While Gallup didn’t light up the stat book, his presence was still felt. He caused two penalties that resulted in a fresh set of downs, including a 38-yard advancement when the Washington defense grabbed Gallup by the facemask on a deep throw. The Cowboys scored their second touchdown of the game two plays later.
5. CeeDee’s production continues to rise
It was a rough start for the Cowboys' third-year wide receiver, but he’s gradually starting to become more and more of a factor. With each new week, his production continues to rise:
- Week 1: 29 yards, catch rate 18%, 0 TD
- Week 2: 75 yards, catch rate 64%, 0 TD
- Week 3: 87 yards, catch rate 67%, 1 TD
- Week 4: 97 yards, catch rate 75%, 1 TD
6. Diggs dominates McLaurin
We don’t know what it is about the Trevon Diggs/Terry McLaurin matchup, but whenever these two face off, the Cowboys corner always gets the better of him. Diggs shut McLaurin down last year and he was at it again on Sunday.
Even PFF loved him on this day.
Trevon Diggs in Week 4:— PFF (@PFF) October 2, 2022
1 catch allowed
2 forced incompletions
0.0 passer rating pic.twitter.com/6d64IKbgck
7. The rook gets a pick
Diggs wasn’t the only Cowboys corner to pick off Wentz on Sunday. After Jourdan Lewis suffered a groin injury in pregame warmups, the Cowboys turned to their fifth-round draft pick from Fresno State, DaRon Bland. The game was all but cinched up for Dallas when Bland stepped in front of a Wentz pass intended for Curtis Samuel.
Daron Bland First Career INT— Sidelines - FresnoState (@SSN_FresnoState) October 2, 2022
8. Commanding the ground attack
If you would’ve asked what it would take for Washington to sneak out of this one with a win, one might answer to dominate the running game. Surprisingly, that is what they did. The Commanders outrushed the Cowboys 142 yards to 62. It was surprising to see them find so many holes against this defense, but it was equally surprising to see the Cowboys offense struggle to establish the run. Dallas entered the game with a top ten rushing attack while Washington’s defense was bottom five in stopping the run, but none of that mattered on this day as the Commanders commanded the ground attack.
9. False false starts
It’s moot now, but it got a little frustrating when Cowboys center Tyler Biadasz was flagged for a false start simply for reaching out and identifying the MIKE linebacker, yet the Commander's right guard can take a full step backward and not get flagged for a false start himself. Come on, refs!
10. More makes from Maher
It was another good kicking performance from Brett Maher as he knocked down field goals from 53, 45, 28, and 29 yards. He did get an extra point blocked, but that wasn’t his fault. In fact, he made a good hustle play to tackle the defender to prevent him from returning it for two points.
Maher’s kicks have not only been good, but most of them are right down the middle. He’s doing a great job so far.