It’s so weird how we can feel so uneasy after three quarters of football, but then completely satisfied after the Dallas Cowboys rock the Indianapolis Colts over the final 15 minutes of the game. But that is where we’re at.
Should this 35-point blowout feel as good as it does or should we be more concerned about this game being as close as it was entering the fourth quarter? Our eyes are on the big prize, so a win isn’t just a win. We want validation that this is one of the best teams in the NFL. When it’s all said and done, the Cowboys now sit at 9-3 and have the third-best scoring offense in the league combined with the third-stingiest defense in the league. The last time we could say that was back in 1995, and I think we all remember how that season played out.
To help sort out our feelings, we’re going to take another look at some of the things that went down in this game and see what we discover after further review.
Have yourself a day, rooks!
Jerry Jones should give his scouting department a sizeable bonus because it should be a nice holiday season thanks to the wonderful contribution of their 2022 rookie draft class. We all know about Tyler Smith and how he’s stepped in and been an immediate contributor on the offensive line. In fact, no player on the Cowboys has logged more total snaps than the team’s first-round draft pick. And we have all been impressed with the tenacity of second-round pick Sam Williams. But the fun doesn’t stop there.
Despite the non-existence of third-rounder Jalen Tolbert, the Cowboys absolutely killed it in April’s draft as they are getting so much contribution from so many different guys, and this was on full display Sunday night. Fifth-round pick from Fresno State, DaRon Bland, had the best game of his career with two interceptions and a nice pass breakup on the Colts' two-point conversion attempt. Fellow fifth-rounder Damone Clark keeps getting better and better and had a nice forced fumble that resulted in a defensive touchdown.
Tyler Smith had key blocks that sprung big runs and Sam Williams had a tackle for a loss combined with a fumble recovery (that almost resulted in a defensive touchdown). Jake Ferguson had a key block on the fourth-down play that allowed Ezekiel Elliott just enough space to sneak through, and even undrafted free agent Malik Davis showed some nice burst to score his first-ever NFL touchdown. It was just an all-around great performance by all the rookies and we have the highlights in case you missed it.
I can't remember a time when the Cowboys had so many rookies making this much contribution in a single game. In Will McClay we trust.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) December 5, 2022
Here's a little splash play tribute to the rooks... pic.twitter.com/PUmwTKq8ub
Dine and Dash
The Cowboys ran for 220 yards on Sunday, their highest rushing output of the season. It was their fifth-straight game rushing for at least 150 yards, a feat they haven’t accomplished since the 2016 season. The combination of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard gives the team a potent one-two punch that keeps the ground attack fresh throughout the game. While the future is unknown regarding how the Cowboys running back room will look going forward, we should at least savor these moments where both of these guys are working together.
Dine & Dash!!— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) December 5, 2022
I can't express how much I love watching Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard share the backfield. This has to be taxing on opposing defenses. pic.twitter.com/mSfdZIzEWf
This Cowboys' defense is such a treat to watch and they create so many problems for opposing offenses. But even still, they can have their moments where they can be their own worst enemy. This team goes full throttle and can get a little wide-eyed at times when they feel they have an opportunity to make a big play. But sometimes, they’ll get caught over-pursuing and it can backfire.
Trevon Diggs got caught taking the cheese when he tried to jump a slant route, only to leave his man wide open in the end zone for a touchdown. And opponents regularly try to counter the defense's heavy pursuit through the line of scrimmage with screen passes where they can get a convoy of blockers out in front of the ball carrier.
The Cowboys' defense is super-aggressive, but sometimes opponents can use their aggressiveness against them. pic.twitter.com/tagSPZkqzG— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) December 5, 2022
You can find bad throws from any quarterback in any game, so this might come across as nitpicking, but it’s hard to sweep Dak Prescott’s errant throws under the rug. The Cowboys' star quarterback is coming off two terrific games where he has thrown the ball with great confidence. On Sunday night, his confidence turned a little hubris as he tried to rifle some passes into tight coverage.
The Colts’ defenders did a great job anticipating where Dak was going with the ball and jumped the route a few times. The box score will only show one interception, but things could’ve been much worse.
When you throw 3 touchdowns and complete 66% of your passes, it's hardly a bad game, but Dak Prescott had some throws into coverage. He had one pick, but it very easily could've been four picks. pic.twitter.com/RtWT3IOc4b— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) December 5, 2022
The good news is, even with these moments, Prescott seemed unfazed and can still deliver some great plays at any given point in time.