1. First Win Over a Contender: It is true that one can only play one's schedule... but to this point, we still have the fact that we haven't played and beaten many teams that are presently above .500, and that the best teams we've beaten are the LA Rams and Seattle Seahawks who could finish above .500 given their schedules, but might still miss the playoffs. That's been the biggest point of concern for Dallas fans, and a fair number of others, to this point in the season. And had we only won by expected margin of victory, we might still see many of the team's critics make the point that Dallas only won because it was at home...
But Dallas did win, probably frustrating the Stephen A Smiths of the world, and we won by 20 points, well beyond what was expected... including by me.
2. Ferguson: Lamb may have caught the most passes today, but Ferguson was the biggest part of the receiving game today, making several big catches for big plays and getting a lot of yards in the process... including big 3rd down conversions and one very nice hurdle of an Eagles defender.
3. Turnovers: This was a big part of why we won by as much as we did... for the Eagles were fairly effective at moving the ball, but they also ended up with the turnover bug. And these were big because these turnovers killed long drives. Hurts lead off the turnovers with a fumble at the Dallas 21 yard line. AJ Brown fumbled at around the Dallas 45 in the 3rd quarter, and DeVonta Smith fumbled at the Dallas 132 in the in the fourth quarter. All of these turnovers took points off the board for the Eagles offense, that surely wanted to come out strong after taking a hard loss to the Niners.
4. WRs: This sort of comes as a group. Lamb remained effective, with 71 yards with a lot of receptions, and a TD. He also had some good "blocking" to set up Gallup's TD. Gallup had a TD, as well as a 39 yard catch in the fourth that would help set up the last field goal of the game, which gave Gallup probably his best night of the year. And Cooks... well, he didn't have a lot of catches, but of the two he caught, one went for 30 yards on that play alone and helped set up the score.
5. First Half Offense: In the first half... this unit couldn't be stopped, scoring 3 TDs and accumulating most of the team's yards... which proved to be more than enough to beat the Eagles this week.
6. Bend but Don't Break Defense: It wasn't quite the shutdown defense that many may have hoped for. As the Eagles did move the ball well for much of the game, with AJ Brown having nearly 100 yards receiving... but once they got into Dallas territory, things began to stiffen, and this goes beyond just the turnovers forced. It's where we got most of our sacks and tackles for loss on the day, which forced the Eagles to settle for field goals on offense, and forced one turnover on downs.
7. Gilmore: He was a big part of what went into point 6. He was frequently matched against AJ Brown, and more often than not... he did manage to limit Brown's gains, forced the fumble that AJ Brown lost, and made the tackles on 3rd and 4th down that ended another Eagles drive. Parsons may remain the engine behind the Dallas defense... but today, Gilmore was the defense's star.
8. Aubrey: Four field goals on the day, with the shortest being 45 yards... and with two being 50+ yarders... today was a great day for him.
9. Team Rushing: No one individually dominated the running game, as while Turpin had the longest run of the night, he only had one carry. But Pollard still averaged 3.7 yards per carry and Dowdle averaged 3.8 yards per carry with a touchdown. Both of which meant they did better than Swift did running the ball for the Eagles. Even Dak averaged 3.8 yards per rush on actual running plays... or QB scrambles. In this, the team continued to run effectively as a team, which surely helped with time of possession and keeping the team ahead.
1. Second Half Offense: It had its moments... but the offense that so dominated the first half seemed to go away in the second half. We had more offensive holding and related penalties here... and while we did mount a few scoring drives, one depended heavily on a series of Eagles penalties that either gave the team a free five yards and a redo of the down or an automatic first down, and meant we only had 3 field goals in the second half... not to mention one lost fumble...
2. Penalties: Granted we didn't have as many penalties as the Eagles, and granted we didn't have as many penalty yards as the Eagles... but when they did happen, and particularly in the second half, they hurt the offense's ability to advance the ball and forced some of the super long FGs that Aubrey had to attempt.
3. Injuries: We came into the game pretty healthy... we left with Hankins knocked out of the game and some of the other defenders being banged up as well... Thankfully, from what the announcers reported, it seemed that Hankins was the only one lost to injury.
4. Defending the Punter: It really hurts when the highest rated QB in the game was the Eagles' punter who threw only one pass...
Dak's night was a bit of everything and largely divided between the first half and the second half, which fit with most of the offense's fortunes on the night. That said, I wouldn't say that his night was completely bad, as there was really only ONE play that truly went wrong for him... that being the sack-fumble in the third quarter and resulted in the Eagles' only touchdown of the game. On a night where the defense has kept the opponent out of the endzone, that can be a bit embarrassing to hold onto the ball for as long as Dak did on that play and end up giving up a fumble that results in the Eagles lone TD, particularly when he'd had decent protection and the room to get outside the pocket and throw the ball away.
That said... that one play was really Dak's only real mistake. Outside of that, Dak had a fairly efficient night, and while some of the explosive plays went away in the third quarter and the Dallas offense had to get help from the refs on at least one drive in particular... those penalties were real, and Dak still avoided having any other turnovers outside of that fumble. And to a degree... from what I could see on the television, it also seemed like by the second half of the game, the offense had also gone to a more run heavy attack and wasn't trying to go down the field as much... which in part made some of those plays, like the long pass to Gallup in the fourth quarter possible. Which, on the whole, makes Dak's 270+ yards and TDs very effective.
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