The Dallas Cowboys entered this weekend as a heavy favorite over the Arizona Cardinals. Unfortunately, the Cowboys have battled a war of attrition regarding the team’s health and have suffered numerous injuries in the last week. The Cowboys unexpectedly were without three of their starting offensive linemen. Predictably, the offense endured a few setbacks. What wasn’t expected was how porous their defense was.
Yet, all was not entirely lost, and some players did their part to try to deliver this team a win from their untimely defeat. Though it was scarce and not much to go around, let’s give credit where it was due. Here are the stars of the Cowboys 28-16 loss to the Cardinals.
Where has this guy been? When you think of the team’s transition to a variation of the West Coast offense, you forget that Michael Gallup is a good fit for a short, quick passing scheme. Gallup’s craftiness at the release on the line of scrimmage afforded him plenty of separation from the Cardinals’ secondary. Time and time again, Gallup put his body on the line across the middle on slant routes in the teeth of the Cardinals’ defense.
Gallup’s six receptions for 92 yards were the most yards he’s totaled since signing a new five-year, $57.5 million contract before the 2022 season. The Cowboys offense lacks consistency in the red zone, but that’s no fault of Gallup. Gallup ran a terrific route in the end zone to get behind the Cardinals’ secondary but couldn’t connect with Prescott for a would-be touchdown. From now on, the team needs to find ways to fix their red zone woes, but Gallup’s rise from the proverbial ashes is an encouraging sign for the team.
The Cowboys’ offense sputtered and needs to recapture its explosive play potential, but Tony Pollard gave them a puncher’s chance. The Cowboys entered the game with an offensive line in shambles, with several starters being declared inactive at the last minute.
Pollard made the best of an adverse situation, knowing that playing with a backup offensive line group it would be hard to find space in the run game. Nevertheless, Pollard was able to pick and plow his way through tough sledding and on to a productive today on the ground. Pollard ran for 122 yards on 23 carries (5.3 YPC).
His highlight of the day was this 31-yard gain, where he hurdled a defender and made a hard cut to the outside with some help from CeeDee Lamb. Coming off injury, Pollard is looking like his old self. What’s also encouraging about his performance is that he seemed fine taking on 23 carries and easily handling the volume. The team must find ways to get him the ball in the open field and with space as we advance.
Whenever a TV broadcast team showers praise on a kicker, you tensely hold your breath on the ensuing field goal attempt, hoping to avoid the broadcaster jinx. However, with each passing week, Brandon Aubrey calmly makes kicks, and makes it look easy. As fans, we can breathe a sigh of relief when Aubrey steps in between the hash marks before splitting the uprights. Since missing his first extra point to start the season, Aubrey has been perfect. Aubrey is seven-for-seven on his field goal tries and has made his last five extra-point tries.
Against Arizona, he was perfect once again. Aubrey made a 49-yard field goal effortlessly with plenty of distance and, more importantly, accuracy. He struck the ball as dead center as possible, and that has been on brand for Aubrey to start his young NFL career. As the Cowboys navigate their scoring issues near the end zone, the Cowboys could stand to be less aggressive, knowing that Aubrey can be relied upon to do his job without any trouble.