While the Cowboys’ Week 4 win over the struggling Patriots wasn’t surprising, few expected a blowout. It was also surprising to see who stood out in the win; some of Dallas’ newest players led the way in the critical home victory.
The star of the game, CB DaRon Bland, was already a known entity from his excellent rookie season. But now asked to move out of the slot and fill in for the injured Trevon Diggs, Bland logged his second and third interceptions of 2023 and returned one of them for a touchdown. While New England QB Mac Jones wasn’t making the best decisions on Sunday, Bland showed that he’s still a dangerous ballhawk and capable of maintaining the flash that Diggs brought to the secondary.
Second-year tight end Jake Ferguson, a new starter this season, led all receivers and set new career highs with seven catches for 77 yards. Ferguson has already proven to be a better blocker than Dalton Schultz was and has more ability to get yards after the catch. He’s becoming a high-efficiency target for Dak Prescott and is only going to get more productive with more experience.
Fullback Hunter Luepke got his first touchdown and helped Dallas improve its woeful redzone success rate. While Luepke didn’t have to bulldoze anyone to find paydirt, taking the quick handoff from the FB position is just another wrinkle for the offense which can help keep defenders guessing.
KaVontae Turpin’s 46-yard run was another unexpected treat. While it did end with a fumble, thankfully TE Sean McKeon was there to mitigate the damage. Turpin needs to work on his ball security if he ever wants a larger offensive role, having three fumbles in 2022 and still having some issues this year. But that aside, he continues to present intriguing potential when they do work him into plays.
Sure, expected stars like Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, and Micah Parsons impacted the game as well. Getting Zack Martin and Tyler Biadasz back on the offensive line was clearly and unsurprisingly beneficial.
That said, the Patriots under Bill Belichick have always been known for taking away the things you do best and forcing other guys to step up and make plays. To see players like Bland and Ferguson in starring roles is huge for the Cowboys’ long-term goals, both for the 2023 season and for the future. They’re going to be asked to do some heavy lifting in much bigger games than this one.
This game illustrated what we’ve said about this year’s Cowboys going back to August; they’re deep and equipped to compete. This was an excellent confidence booster for some of these young players, and the team as a whole, as they prepare for a marquee showdown with the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday.