The Cowboys returned home after their first loss of the season and welcomed in Ezekiel Elliott and the Patriots before dismantling them to the tune of a 38-3 final score. A lot of things went right in this one, and a lot of players showed out, but which ones were the best? Here are the highest graded players from the game, according to Pro Football Focus.
Defense bounces back
A week after the defense got embarrassed by the Cardinals, Dan Quinn’s unit bounced back in a big way. They limited New England to 253 total yards of offense and only allowed 2.3 yards per carry after their run defense was abused by the Cardinals. Everyone played great on this side of the ball, as evidence by six different players receiving a grade over 80.
CB DaRon Bland - 91.5
DaRon Bland had a huge day in his second game as an outside corner following the injury to Trevon Diggs. He even looked like Diggs, making two great interceptions and returning one of them for a touchdown. In total, Bland was targeted eight times on Sunday and he allowed just four catches for 69 yards.
DaRon Bland pick-6— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 1, 2023
Cowboys 28, Patriots 3 pic.twitter.com/aRLoAqYz95
EDGE DeMarcus Lawrence - 91.1
DeMarcus Lawrence has been having a great year so far, and he continued that against New England. Lawrence posted four pressures and a run stop on the day, earning a 90+ player grade and putting him in rarefied company.
Pre-MNF, DeMarcus Lawrence is currently possesses PFF's second-highest season-long grade among EDGEs, behind only Nick Bosa.— John Owning (@JohnOwning) October 2, 2023
Micah Parsons is 5th. #Cowboys
EDGE Dante Fowler - 90.9
Dante Fowler didn’t play a whole lot in this one - just 31% of the defensive snaps - but his impact was definitely felt. He recorded two pressures and a sack, with the sack also resulting in a forced fumble that led to a defensive touchdown. This was a good reminder of just how deep this pass rush is.
LB Damone Clark - 89.9
Damone Clark didn’t have the best game last week, but he rebounded in a big way against the Patriots. He had six tackles, one for a loss, with an average depth of tackle of 1.3 yards. In other words, he was making tackles close to the line of scrimmage, as opposed to way downfield.
EDGE Micah Parsons - 86.9
Micah Parsons clocking in at fifth on the defense sounds wrong, but that’s just how good this unit played on Sunday. Parsons was his usual self, dominating the Patriots offensive line and making life miserable for Mac Jones. While he was ultimately held without a sack for the first time this year, Parsons still registered a whopping 10 pressures.
LB Leighton Vander Esch - 80.7
When you scoop-and-score on a fumble recovery, you’re going to have a good player grade. Leighton Vander Esch was in the perfect spot for the fumble that he took 11 yards to the house, but his game was more than that. He led the team in tackles with 5.5 yards average depth of tackle and he only allowed one catch (on two targets) for four yards.
Dak Prescott, Tyler Smith dominate
A few trends continued for this offense, as Dak Prescott was once again in a rhythm and the offense seemingly moved the ball at will... until reaching the red zone. That still needs to get cleaned up, but several offensive players had great performances.
LG Tyler Smith - 93.7
Tyler Smith has been so good in his first two games this year. He once again put up a goose egg in the pressures allowed column, and Smith was moving humans all over the place in the run game. He looks so much better than he did as a rookie.
QB Dak Prescott - 90.0
Dak Prescott was on fire against a very good Patriots defense. He completed 82.4% of his passes for 260 yards, and that was with two dropped passes on the day. Prescott also recorded two big time throws and zero turnover worthy plays - or turnovers - on the day. His 2.43 seconds per throw was the third-fastest release of Week 4, pending Monday Night Football.
TE Jake Ferguson - 78.1
Remember when Jake Ferguson had some drops in the season opener? It’s really starting to look like that was solely due to the weather, as Ferguson has been money since then. He caught all seven of his targets for 77 yards against the Patriots, with 26 of those yards coming after the catch. Five of those receptions went for a first down, too.
C Tyler Biadasz - 75.9
Tyler Biadasz returned to the field after missing last week’s game, and he didn’t miss a beat. He allowed one pressure, but was otherwise stout against a very talented Patriots defensive front. He was also graded out as the second-best run blocker on the day for Dallas, behind just Tyler Smith.
LT Chuma Edoga - 68.2
Chuma Edoga has started every game this year, and on Sunday it was his second start at left tackle. He played significantly better than he did a week ago, offering a reminder of why the Cowboys signed him in the offseason. Edoga wasn’t perfect, giving up a team high three pressures and a sack, but he held his own against one of the best edge-rushing tandems in the league.