For the second straight season, the Cowboys escaped a potential 0-2 start with a walk-off field goal to win a game against an AFC opponent. The Cowboys beat the Cincinnati Bengals 20-17 on Sunday. If last year’s loss to Tampa was almost expected for a team that went on to win the division though, week one for these current Cowboys created a frenzy that would be hard enough to recover from even if they had their starting quarterback.
The Cowboys won their second game in as many seasons with Cooper Rush leading a game-winning drive, drastically changing the outlook for a Cowboys team that starts NFC East play with another primetime game next Monday night at the Giants.
It was the Cowboys defense that proved they can win this team games with constant pressure against Joe Burrow, but an offense that was lifeless in week one did just enough to hold a lead into the fourth quarter and get in range for Brett Maher in the end.
Here are a few notes on the Cowboys first win of the 2022 season:
- Micah Parsons added two more sacks to lead the way for the Cowboys pass rush, but their entire defensive line took over this game. Parsons was able to pressure Burrow off the edge thanks to interior pressure from Osa Odighizuwa and Quinton Bohanna pushing the pocket, not allowing Burrow to extend plays.
Parsons mostly worked against former Cowboys right tackle La’el Collins, but Dan Quinn got creative with his front seven and had DeMarcus Lawrence on the right side at times with Dorance Armstrong playing as a stand up rusher. This aggressive defense put a lot of pressure on the Cowboys secondary to hold up against some of the best receivers in the league, which they did with Trevon Diggs making plays on the ball and Anthony Brown having a bounce-back game in coverage.
- Kellen Moore’s offense faced a lot of questions coming into this game, even from Mike McCarthy who mentioned some of the trick plays that didn’t work in week one. Moore doubled down on the core concepts the Cowboys are relying on this season, but it was Rush’s ability to execute some of the same plays they’d call for Prescott that made the difference.
Noah Brown’s first-quarter touchdown was the best example of this, as Rush threw a dart on the run to hit a crossing Brown in the end zone. The Cowboys had opportunities for these receivers since the start of the offseason to earn playing time, and Brown was a standout through the preseason that’s become a reliable target for Rush.
In the run game, the Cowboys saw Tyler Smith continue to impress while holding up in pass protection, and mixed in Tony Pollard with nine carries and four receptions.
The Cowboys may still have a narrow path to victory each week with Cooper Rush under center, but his proven ability to throw with accuracy and execute this offense has given Dallas the confidence they need without Prescott. The last thing many Cowboys fans wanted to hear leading up to this game was that the Cowboys were going to do more of the same and stay the course with their plan on offense, but that’s exactly what earned them their first win against the reigning AFC champions.