After eight weeks of regular season football, the Dallas Cowboys sit at 6-2, after a 49-29 victory at home versus the Chicago Bears. Cowboys franchise quarterback Dak Prescott seemed much more comfortable in Week 8 which is a promising sign as the team heads into it’s Week 9 bye. The 20 point win marks the highest margin of victory for America’s Team thus far in 2022. Even with the margin of victory being what it was, not all of Week 8 was perfect, but it was a very promising sign for things to come for the remainder of this year. Let’s break down this week’s performance and handout some grades for each unit.
This was by far the best offensive performance of the year
Week 8 featured a breakout performance on offense and showed many what this team is capable of on this side of the ball when Dak Prescott is under center. Prescott put up the highest single-game passing totals from a Cowboys quarterback all season with 250 yards. What was most impressive about Dak’s performance in the air was the completion percentage of nearly 78%. He did make one mistake by throwing an interception late in the first half to Eddie Jackson, but other than that he played great football in Week 8.
Not only was the passing game impressive, but so was the ground game led by Tony Pollard. Pollard, who got the start for an injured Ezekiel Elliott, had a tremendous game and only needed 14 totes to record 131 rushing yards and three touchdowns. That was a very efficient performance by number 20. His 9.4 yards a carry shows how explosive he was on Sunday and his 6.2 average a carry is second currently in the NFL. Pollard needs to continue to get touches. Even without Zeke in the lineup, Pollard carried the ball just a tad more than he normally does.
When Ezekiel Elliott returns to the lineup, presumably after the bye week, don’t be surprised to see the usage go back to what it has been all season with both Elliott and Pollard in the lineup. Ideally, Elliott maintains that grind-it-out role to soften up the defense for a Pollard tote to be a big gainer. That would be an ideal formula going forward which will help keep both players fresh as the regular season gets closer to the finish line. One thing is for sure, if Dak can continue to play like he did in Week 8, and the running game performs like it did this past Sunday, then it is going to make the Cowboys a tough out come playoff time.
The defense played well enough and did their job
On the defensive side of the ball, and as expected, the Bears ran the ball and did it well. Chicago ended the day with 240 yards on the ground which is the worst performance in that area of the game by this elite Cowboys defense all season. To ease the concerns of many, the last time the Cowboys gave up that amount of rushing yardage in a victory was in 1995. We know what happened that year and there is nothing better than winning that final game. Let’s just see if this kind of stat can rear it’s ugly head around Super Bowl time at the end of this season.
Aside from the ground game being quite effective in Week 8, the pass defense was on its game as expected. It would be far more concerning to see Justin Fields light up this defense from a passing perspective as he hasn’t shown that skill set in his arsenal just yet. Fields definitely has plenty of game to him, and once he nails down the passing attack then it will lead to very good things for the future of the Bear franchise. Fields did what we all expected him to do, run effectively when needed, and throw when absolutely necessary.
It was surprising to see that the Cowboys were unable to snag an interception from him this past weekend, but if it weren’t for a Chauncey Golston roughing the passer call then Trevon Diggs would’ve added that to the stat sheet. Regardless of how we all feel about the call, it turned out the way that it did and thankfully wasn’t the deciding factor in the game. Speaking of the deciding factor, Micah Parsons put the game essentially on ice when he scooped up a David Montgomery fumble while not being touched by anyone and taking it to the house for a touchdown. It wasn’t the best performance from this unit, but they still showed why they are one of the best in the NFL today.
Special teams was an afterthought for the most part, but performed well when they were called upon
With the amount of points scored in Week 8, the special teams unit wasn’t overly busy aside from the point after touchdowns. Brett Maher nailed all seven of them in the game. KaVontae Turpin was effectively nullified on the afternoon as he was only able to garner three returns on the day for just 36 yards. It seemed like the Bears were trying to everything in their power to not give Turpin a quality look and they did just that. Bryan Anger was only needed for two punts in the game, but he sure did make the most of his opportunities as he averaged 71 yards a boot. As a complete unit, they simply did their job when called upon and didn’t give the Bears an extra opportunities by having any mental lapses. A solid job once again by this unit and let’s hope this continues the rest of the way.
To put a bow on Week 8, the offense looked the way we’ve been accustomed to seeing them play over the most recent years. It was a complete game on offense, and it was very well balanced in both the air and ground game. The defense did give up a lot of rushing yards and the most points in a game this year, but we all know how good this unit is and these types of games can happen from time to time. The special teams group has been solid all season, and hasn’t put the team in harm’s way through eight games. KaVontae Turpin is due for a return touchdown and it’s coming soon. If all three facets of the game can put it altogether each week, then this team has all the makings of a major player come playoff time. There is plenty of regular season left to go, and things are only looking up from here.