Week two has come and gone, and to the surprise of many, the Cowboys have come out on the other end with a record of 1-1. Defeating the Cincinnati Bengals is no small feat considering that they were a fourth quarter shutout away from holding the Lombardi trophy just last year. Even though their record of 0-2 thus far says otherwise, the Bengals are a very good team and even with the slow start, the playoffs once again should be in their future. With many questions and many doubts by some pundits as to how Dallas would stay in contention while Dak Prescott heals up, the Cowboys took a nice step in the right direction as they were able to secure a victory against a very game Bengals squad. As we breakdown the three facets of the game, you should expect a mixed bag of grades as it was an uneven performance, on their way to a thrilling victory.
The offensive performance was uneven, but good enough to pull out the win - Grade: C+
Starting with the offensive side of the ball, the Cowboys new field general, Cooper Rush, played admirably. It wasn’t perfect, but Rush is a gamer and surprised many in showing the world that last year’s win vs. the Vikings was not a fluke. There were some passes that against a more elite defense would’ve been interceptions, but in this case, were completions. Cincy has a good defense, but not elite, yet.
The feed Ezekiel Elliott contingent had to be happy to see 15 totes in the box score, but it was an inefficient ground performance as he averaged only 3.5 yards per carry. Tony Pollard had a decent game and was more efficient in the passing game, but his rushing numbers were solid as well. Having both Zeke and Pollard on the field together is a good formula for success as there are plenty of questions still to be answered in the wide receiver room.
Speaking of the wide outs, another nice outing from Noah Brown who nearly had 100 yards receiving. CeeDee Lamb played better in this one as well. Considering the hand that this unit was dealt, they played solid. It’s not the elite offense we are accustomed to, but it was enough to pull out the victory. If they were able to put two halves together, the grade would’ve been higher than C+. Aside from the game winner by Brett Maher, no other points were scored in the second half.
The defense once again gave Dallas it’s best chance to win and aside from the lack of turnovers played great - Grade: A-
Moving on to the heart and soul of this team as it is currently assembled, we have the defense. Once again, the defense is showing the world that they are an elite defense which is led by the unicorn, Micah Parsons. Parsons, like in week one, recorded two sacks giving him four for the season. That number currently leads the NFL in that category. Not only did Parsons have two sacks, but his teammates on the defense tallied another four sacks, which gave the team a total of six on the day. Dorance Armstrong also recorded two sacks in the game.
With the amount of pressure applied to Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, it made the lives of the secondary much easier as Burrow threw for under 200 yards during the game. Other Bengals stars such as Joe Mixon and Ja’Marr Chase were neutralized enough where neither player scored a touchdown. The only criticism of the defense was the lack of turnovers in week two, but for the most part the effort on defense was tremendous earning an A- this week.
The special teams unit did their jobs well and also delivered a game-winner - Grade: A
Last but not least, we have the special teams unit which had been a question mark leading into the season. Two weeks in and so far, so good. Turpin looks electric with the ball in his hands and is due to break one to the house soon. Bryan Anger, once again, is just very steady and does one heck of a job punting the ball and getting those punts inside the 20 which helps the defense, and offense, with field position. The last piece of this special teams puzzle is none other than week two’s hero, Brett Maher, who made all of his kicks, including the 50-yarder as time expired to help the Cowboys put their first win of 2022 into the record books. Due to the performance all around, the special teams crew gets an A this week.