2023 NFL season, Week 6: What We Learned from Cowboys’ win over Chargers on Monday night - Nick Shook, NFL.com
Neither offense had a hallmark game on Monday night, with Dan Quinn getting the best of Kellen Moore’s offense in the fourth quarter.
Dan Quinn wins the battle of coordinators. This game was billed as a revenge opportunity for Moore, who left the Cowboys in a mutual parting of ways in 2023 and joined the Chargers almost immediately. He was supposed to outduel the man who replaced him, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy. Instead, it was Dallas’ defensive coordinator, Quinn, who had his number for most of the night. It was painfully evident in the most important situations, like when Moore dialed up a rollout to the short side of the field on fourth-and-1 in the red zone, leaving Justin Herbert with two options (who were blanketed by man coverage) to the play side and only a prayer in the form of Allen, who was crossing toward the back side of the play and was double covered. Herbert wasn’t going to have time to attempt such a throw anyway, judging by how the rest of the game had gone to that point. Quinn won the battle of wits with Moore, even while Micah Parsons didn’t do much of anything. And when the moment called for it, Quinn sent Parsons on a blitz that produced a quick sack. One play later, Herbert threw an under-pressure interception, securing the win for Quinn and the Cowboys.
Cowboys need to clean it up. The Chargers made a lot of mental errors in this game, the type that typically come from a poorly coached team, but when the clock hit triple-zeroes, the Cowboys were the ones who ended up with more penalties accepted against them (11 for 85 yards). They also botched a punt return that gave the Chargers a massive gift, resulting in a game-tying touchdown. It hasn’t been a clean operation for Dallas in the last two weeks, not by any stretch of the imagination, and they paid the price a week ago. This time, they survived, but they’ll need to be better, because stiffer competition will await them soon enough.
NFL Research: Dak Prescott scored his first rushing touchdown since Week 8 of 2022 on Monday night, improving the Cowboys’ record to 21-4 when he scores a rushing touchdown.
Next Gen stat of the game: Prescott reached his two fastest speeds (18.65 mph) of the season on back-to-back runs in the first quarter, including his 18-yard touchdown run (18.06 mph).
The veteran Brandin Cooks finally made the clutch plays he was brought in for, scoring his first Cowboys touchdown for a 17-10 lead in the fourth.
Brandin Cooks is here to stay. I think an official welcome to Brandin Cooks is in order after his performance on Monday night. First it was a big first down conversion in the first half, then the huge touchdown reception on third down in the second half saved a drive that saw the Cowboys drive down the field on the heels of a big play (more on that later). Then, on the go-ahead drive, Cooks took an end around for a first down before hauling in a physical third down reception right at the sticks to keep the drive moving into Los Angeles territory. His stat line might not blow you away, but his impact was felt on Monday night.
The offense has to start getting creative with Tony Pollard. We saw a glimpse of Tony Pollard’s big play ability in the fourth quarter on an improvisation by a scrambling Dak Prescott that found Pollard leaking across the middle of the field. Sixty yards later, Pollard set up Dallas for what would be its second touchdown of the night. The play gave me a little bit of pause, only because we saw so much of that in 2022 and have yet to see it extended into 2023. Most of Pollard’s play so far has been on designed runs with little-to-no flare, but with a little creativity, you can see how dangerous he can be in the open field.
Discipline has to be an emphasis going into the bye week. Penalties tried so hard to keep Dallas from winning this game as the Cowboys hit double-digit flags for the second time this season, and it felt like each time the yellow marker hit the field, it came at an inopportune time. Lining up offsides, 12 men on the field, holding, pass interference…you name it, everything was hindering the Cowboys on both sides of the ball. Staying disciplined has to be the emphasis coming out of the bye week with relatively mistake-free opponents upcoming.
Escape from L.A.: Cowboys D short circuits Chargers comeback in 20-17 win - KD Drummond, The Cowboys Wire
The Cowboys needed to show some toughness coming off their big loss to the 49ers, and did so in the crucial moments to escape the Chargers with a win.
The Cowboys are now 10-1 over the last three seasons following a loss.
The victory improved the club to 4-2 heading into their bye week. The Cowboys overcame several shots to their own feet and miscues and miscalculations by the coaching staff in clock management at the tail end of both halves.
Quarterback Dak Prescott used his legs again for the first time in what felt like forever, scoring a regular-season rushing touchdown for the first time since Week 8 in 2022. With his arm, he was perfect when targeting CeeDee Lamb (seven receptions for 117 yards) and Brandin Cooks (four catches for 36 yards, one touchdown) and finished the game with a 109.3 rating.
The Cowboys converted two of their four red-zone opportunities into scores, but the biggest story was how Quinn was able to corral his former counterpart and limit Kellen Moore’s offense.
The Chargers only two touchdown drives began in Dallas territory, with the first starting at the 42 after a huge punt return and the last starting at the 20 after a Dallas muffed punt. In between it was tough sledding all day for Justin Herbert and company, as the Cowboys’ defense was constantly in the backfield.
The Cowboys had to take care of business for it to matter, but their Monday night win capped off an ideal week six with both the Eagles and 49ers also losing on Sunday.
Buffalo also had their hands full until the final play versus the New York Giants, but just squeaked out a victory.
Those games just helped hammer in my point that any team in the NFL is capable of losing to any other team on any given day.
Let’s take a look at previous Cowboys Super Bowl teams who had a bad loss during the regular season.
I will even throw in a few Super Bowl teams since 2000 who also have bad regular season losses.
1995 DALLAS COWBOYS
Opponent: Washington Redskins
Score: 27-23 and 24-17
Opponent’s final record: 6-10
Former Cowboys’ offensive coordinator Norv Turner led the 1995 Washington Redskins to a season sweep of Dallas.
The Cowboys only had three losses in the regular season, but two of those losses were to division rival Washington.
Dallas’ only other loss on the season was against their biggest rival at the time, San Francisco.
The Cowboys again rolled through the playoffs and their third Super Bowl win in four seasons despite losing to the 6-10 Redskins twice during the regular season.
The Cowboys have more than enough to work on during their bye before hosting the Rams, but can do so after a much-needed win in primetime.
Monday’s win certainly wasn’t pretty but the Cowboys enter their bye week with a 4-2 record and still within striking distance of the Philadelphia Eagles and 49ers, who suffered surprising losses on Sunday.
Everything was in question after last week. Mike McCarthy’s playcalling, Dak Prescott’s ability, the defense’s toughness. Nothing was perfect — too many penalties, too many big plays allowed, not enough big plays made, special teams’ turnover — but when it mattered they made the necessary plays.
Starting with three key third-down conversions on a game-winning drive that ended with a Brandon Aubrey field goal and then a sack — the first of the game for the Cowboys — by Micah Parsons and a sealing interception by Stephon Gilmore.
The Cowboys are now 10-1 after a loss over the last two seasons.
Maybe they’re not dead after all.
QB breakdown: Let’s forget the passing numbers for Prescott. Let’s talk about his rushing. He had the longest touchdown run of his career (18 yards) in the first quarter and the longest by a Cowboys QB since 2010. Prescott has not used his feet as much in recent years. He had 18 rushing touchdowns in his first three years and now nine in the last five. He had 45 yards rushing in the first five games and 33 in the first half vs. the Chargers. He’s not a running quarterback, but he can be effective with his feet and may need to do more of it.
Promising trend: Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb had 84 receiving yards in the first half, more than he had in four of the first five games. He acknowledged during the week his body language needed to be better after he was salty in the San Francisco game. All five of his catches in the first two quarters covered 10 or more air yards. In the New England game he had eight completions with air yards of 10 or more.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL AT SOFI STADIUM IN LOS ANGELES SOUNDS A LOT LIKE A DALLAS COWBOYS HOME GAME - Dan Zaksheske, Outkick
Cowboys Nation came out in a huge way to support their team at SoFi Stadium!
But, what they really wouldn’t tolerate is the reaction that the road team got for its first touchdown. The Dallas Cowboys elected to go for a fourth-down-and-1 from the Los Angeles 18-yard line. Not only did Dallas pick up the first down, but quarterback Dak Prescott rumbled into the endzone for a score.
Tell me there aren’t more Cowboys fans in the crowd than Chargers fans after hearing this reaction:
Not only is Los Angeles filled with transplants from all over the United States, but it’s not exactly a football town.
Plus, they already have the Rams, who were there long before the Chargers and returned one year before they did, as well. Additionally, there are a lot of Raiders fans from their time in L.A. in the 1980s and 90s.
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