Dallas Cowboys Team Grades: Tony Romo Plays First Game This Season

The Dallas Cowboys had nothing to play for this week when it came to their playoff position, as they already wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. However, Ezekiel Elliott was one monster game away from breaking the rookie rushing record and Dak Prescott was one win away from breaking the rookie record for wins in a season. Dallas gave Prescott the chance by letting him start, but kept Elliott on the bench.

The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-13, despite Tony Romo making his return to the field.

Offense: B-

The Dallas Cowboys couldn’t do anything once Mark Sanchez came into the game to play. However, the three drives with Dak Prescott and Tony Romo are the only ones that should be judged since they are who will lead the Cowboys through the playoffs this season. After settling on a punt on his first drive, Prescott led the Cowboys down the field for a field goal and then his day was over. Prescott finished with 37 yards on a four-for-eight passing game.

Tony Romo then came into the game for the first time in the 2016 NFL regular season. While Romo was shaky on his first pass, he then buckled down and ended up showing why he is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Romo completed three-of-four passes for 29 yards and a touchdown pass to Terrance Williams for the Cowboys only touchdown of the game.

Mark Sanchez completed only 52-percent of his passes for 85 yards and tossed two interceptions. Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden split the carries with Elliott sitting out and combined for only 40 yards on 16 carries. With Prescott, Romo, Elliott, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten sitting for most of the game, as well as resting their injured offensive linemen, Dallas didn’t really have a chance in the second half.

Defense: B

With a number of Dallas Cowboys defensive starters also resting due to injury, the Cowboys defense played better than expected. They limited the Eagles to 10 points in the first half and they were only down 17-13 at the start of the fourth quarter. The defense left the Cowboys with a chance to win, even with Mark Sanchez unable to do anything on offense. However, Carson Wentz led the team on two scoring drives in the fourth quarter, including a touchdown with only 16 seconds left to extend their lead.

Dallas sacked Carson Wentz twice in the game, impressive since their best pass rushers are injured, and hit him 10 other times. This was a great performance and the Cowboys defense went from the team’s weak point at the start of the season to a formable unit heading into the playoffs.

Special Teams: B

The reason that the Philadelphia Eagles won the game by double digits was because Chris Jones had a punt blocked with under a minute remaining. It didn’t matter in this game, but Chris Jones can’t let this happen in the playoffs. Dan Bailey was automatic as usual, with two field goals in two attempts, including one from 49 yards out.

Coaching: A

Jerry Jones did not think that Tony Romo should play, saying he believed that he could step in if needed in case of an injury to Dak Prescott without any previous snaps. Jason Garrett sent in Romo anyway and was rewarded with a touchdown. Overall, Garrett gave up the chance to win this game by resting starters like Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and more, but still gave all of them with the exception of Elliott the chance to play a little to keep their momentum.

Now, the Dallas Cowboys get a week off as they secured a first-round bye in the playoffs and home-field advantage. With the top spot in the playoffs, they will play the lowest ranked team to win in the first round. Most of all, the first round bye gives Dallas a chance to rest their injured starters – specifically players like Tyron Smith, Sean Lee, and DeMarcus Lawrence – for the playoffs. 

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