The Dallas Cowboys got their first win of the 2022 season after holding off the Cincinnati Bengals 20-17. It started out great and then turned into what looked like a slow death before the Cowboys pulled out the win at the end. There were some good things and there were some not-so-good things. Here are 10 thoughts on the Cowboys' win over the Bengals.
1. Love the aggressive start
The Cowboys made a statement early when they went for it on fourth down at their own 44-yard line. A 17-yard strike from Cooper Rush to Noah Brown kept the drive going and allowed the Cowboys to run their first play of the season inside the red zone. The offense finished off a 12-play, 75-yard drive with another Rush-to-Brown connection that resulted in the Cowboys' first touchdown of the 2022 season. The team was right back at it again on their next drive, marching down the field 75 yards again, scoring another touchdown aided by a big play from Tony Pollard allowing them to jump out to a 14-3 lead. It was nice to see this explosion of offense right out of the gate after a pathetic performance last week, but little did we know that was the last time the Cowboys would find the end zone on this day.
2. A six-pack of sacks
The Bengals have issues along the offensive line so it wasn’t surprising to see the Cowboys defense attack Burrow, and the defensive line didn’t disappoint. Cincy’s quarterback went to the turf six times with everyone getting in on the action. Micah Parsons led the way with his second straight two-sack performance. Dorance Armstrong also had two sacks on the day. Dante Fowler had one as did Leighton Vander Esch. It was nice to see the Cowboys' defensive line consistently get up in the face of Burrow.
For anyone keeping score at home...
- Dorance Armstrong = 2 sacks on the year
- Randy Gregory = 1 sack on the year
3. Enough with these stupid penalties!
After not getting called for a single penalty last week, the defense tried to make up for it with a trifecta of stupid mental mistakes. Twice they were flagged for a personal foul penalty after hitting Burrow as he was sliding to the ground. Each time it gave the Bengals an extra set of downs and extended drives that would have otherwise forced them to punt. And later in the game, Cowboys rookie Devin Harper got called for a neutral zone infraction on a punt play that also resulted in a new set of downs. Altogether, these penalties allowed the Bengals to keep the drive going resulting in two field goals for the road team.
4. Every little bit helps
For a moment fans were probably screaming at their television sets when as the clock was ticking after the Cowboys sacked Burrow for the fourth time with just over a minute to go in the first half. Call a time-out! While the clock was winding down on the TV, the Cowboys actually did call a timeout, and time was put back on the clock. KaVontae Turpin had a nice punt return, giving the Cowboys good field position. The offense only moved the ball 13 yards, but that was close enough to get in Brett Maher’s range, finishing the half off with a 54-yard field goal and taking a 17-3 lead into the locker room. Every little bit helps.
5. Brown not messing around
We scratched our heads at the Cowboys underwhelming wide receiver group as it is made of a CeeDee Lamb and a bunch of guys with very little NFL experience. But one guy who decided to show up in a big way on Sunday was veteran Noah Brown. Primarily a special teams guy throughout most his career, Brown has never had much of a role on this team as a receiver. His career high in receiving yards entering this game was 68 yards in game last year, but he finished the game with five catches for a new career-high 91 yards, 79 of which came in the first half alone. His biggest catch came when he caught a floating duck that was tipped at the line of scrimmage but put the team in Bengals’ territory late in the game.
6. Schultz’s costly fumble
The Bengals were slowly and surely chipping away at the Cowboys' lead after starting off the second half with two field goals. Dallas was hanging on to dear life to an eight-point lead late in the fourth quarter when the offense finally started to show signs of life in the second half. They moved the ball 40 yards down to the Bengals' 25-yard line, but unfortunately, Dalton Schultz had the ball stripped away and recovered by the Bengals, squandering an opportunity to make it a two-score game again.
7. The 19-play drive
It looked as if this game was going to come to a very disappointing conclusion after the Cowboys defense finally allowed the Bengals offense to score their first touchdown of the game. It took Cincy all the way to the 3:45 mark in the fourth quarter to get into the end zone, which is a testament to how well the Cowboys defense played, but they couldn’t get off the field when the Bengals orchestrated a 19-play, 83-yard drive that took just under nine minutes. It was the longest-play drive for the Bengals since 2001. Cincinnati finished things off with a two-point conversion that tied the game at 17 all.
8. The 3-and-out
After failing to get off the field on the previous drive the Cowboys' defense came through at the right moment. With 2:13 left in the game, the Bengals completed three short passes but came up two yards short when Trevon Diggs make a key tackle on Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd. The Cowboys used a timeout and got the ball back on their own 35-yard line with 57 seconds left in the game. And that turned out to be enough thanks to...
9. Another Cooper comeback
The coaching staff believes in their backup quarterback even if some fans don’t. Last season, Rush came through with a come-from-behind win against the Minnesota Vikings. He followed that up with an encore performance against the Bengals on Sunday as he went 3/3 for 30 yards on the final drive setting up the game-winning field goal.
Rush finished the game just 19/31 for 235 yards, with one touchdown and no picks. It wasn’t always pretty for the veteran backup, but Rush came through when it counted.
10. Money Maher
It has to feel a little satisfying that many of the grave concerns of this Cowboys team are turning out to not be as bad as originally thought. Rookie left tackle Tyler Smith is doing a great job, Noah Brown is coming up big, and Cooper Rush is off to a nice start replacing Prescott.
But the fun doesn’t end there as another element of uneasiness during training camp was the team’s kicking situation. After moving away from Greg Zuerlein, the team first went to rookie Jonathan Garibay, then to Lirim Hajrullahu, and then finally settled on Brett Maher. The second stint of Maher is off to a great start as he knocked down the game-winning field goal as time expired. So far, so good for Maher this year as he is 3-for-3 on field goals with all three of his makes coming from 50+yards.