What an amazing change of events for the Dallas Cowboys, from the disappointing season-opener loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Cowboys beating the Cincinnati Bengals 20-17, with a final drive from QB Cooper Rush to set up K Brett Maher to secure the win.
The offensive line was in fine form, as Tyler Biadasz delivered a great performance for the Cowboys. One of his best moments was the block on CB Eli Apple which led the way for Tony Pollard to run for 47 yards reaching the one-yard line.
Tyler Smith was a knockout throughout the game; in 36 snaps in pass protection he allowed one pressure during the game and was graded in the 65% and above by PFF. The rookie from Tulsa looked very comfortable going against Bengals DE Trey Hendrickson who only managed one tackle throughout the game. Smith also displayed his mobility and speed getting up to the second level to create more paths for the run game.
All-Pro guard Zack Martin looked ruthless out on the field, paving the way for Tony Pollard to get his touchdown at the goal line. Martin, now in his ninth season in the NFL, dominated in pass protection giving up zero sacks and zero QB hits. Martin was graded the second highest guard by PFF with a score of 84.7 in pass blocking category after Week 2.
Going into his third season, Terence Steele showed improvement with his discipline by creating zero penalties. Steele had a competitive one-on-one battle with defensive end Sam Hubbard throughout the game, as Hubbard was able to sack Cooper Rush once and record two tackles for loss.
Matt Farniok made some good blocks creating the gaps for Pollard and Ezekiel Elliot in the run game. However, in pass protection, Farniok was the weak link of the offensive line, as he struggled with the pressures of the Bengals defense and needed assistance from Smith and Biadasz. Farniok will struggle to keep his place, as Connor McGovern will be coming back and the likelihood of Smith moving back into guard to allow Jason Peters to play at left tackle.
Despite only the winning field goal in the second half, the Cowboys offensive line showed massive improvement and is starting to see continuity build, all while giving up no penalties in the game.
The Cowboys defense went out and exploited the Bengals offensive line, sacking QB Joe Burrow six times. For the second game in a row the Cowboys defense has kept the scoreboard to under 20 points.
DeMarcus Lawrence and the defensive line stepped up from last week, stopping the Bengals running game as RB Joe Mixon only rushed for 57 yards on 19 carries. Lawrence finished the game with six total tackles, with three of those being solo efforts.
Micah Parsons’ elite performance was simply amazing to watch as he was constantly giving the Bengals a hard time throughout the game. Parsons recorded two sacks, two tackles for loss and helped create the space to allow Leighton Vander Esch, Dante Fowler Jr. and Dorrance Armstrong to get their sacks. Parsons also showcased his speed & agility as the Bengals offensive line was unable to stop him.
Neville Gallimore, Trysten Hill, Quinton Bohanna & Osa Odighizuwa did not feature as much in this game. Despite the low numbers in tackles and assists, all the defensive tackles did a great job getting into their assigned gaps, shutting the door on Mixon as he was forced to rush outside.
DE Sam Williams was given more game time and showed glimpses of his strength and speed as he recorded one tackle for loss.
Coaches Dan Quinn & Aden Durde will be pleased overall with how the defensive line performed, especially in the run defense. Their focus will now be on Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants as the Cowboys travel to the Big Apple for Monday night football.