By Shawn Lealos
It has been two years since the Dallas Cowboys made the NFL playoffs only to lose to the Green Bay Packers on a controversial non-catch by wide receiver Dez Bryant. Since that game, Tony Romo missed most of 2015 due to injury and has missed all of this season so far as well. Dez Bryant, who made that non-catch, has also played minimal games due to injuries over the past two seasons.
However, without either man on the field, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Green Bay Packers in Week 6 of the NFL season, 30-16, to move to 5-1 on the year. The Cowboys accomplished this with a rookie quarterback, rookie running back, journeyman wide receiver, and a much-maligned defense. Here is a look at the Dallas Cowboys team grades after their big Week 6 win over the Green Bay Packers.
It was a crazy game for rookie quarterback Dak Prescott as he faced one of the top defenses in the NFL on Sunday. First, Prescott set the NFL record for most pass attempts to start a career without an interception, passing Tom Brady for the record. He fumbled on the very next play in what looked like an interception, but then finally threw the first pick of his NFL career in the third quarter. Despite two fumbles and an interception, the rookie Prescott kept his composure and never stopped fighting. He ended up completing 66 percent of his passes for three touchdowns in the game.
The other major weapon on offense is rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott. The bruising running back from Ohio State has carried the ball more times than any other running back in the NFL this season and just became the first rookie in NFL history to have over 130 rushing yards in four consecutive games. He carried the ball 28 times for 157 yards and leads the NFL in rushing with 546 yards. This was even more impressive since the Packers entered the game with the No. 1 rushing defense in the NFL.
Anytime a defense can hold off Aaron Rodgers, it is a good day. The Dallas Cowboys defense did more than just stop Aaron Rodgers. The Cowboys forced a total of four turnovers in the game to kill the Packers’ drives all throughout the game. Rodgers threw an interception to Barry Church and fumbled the ball once, making the Dak Prescott mistakes look a little less damaging. Wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Ty Montgomery also fumbled the ball in the game.
Sean Lee was the team leader on defense with nine solo and 12 overall tackles in the game. Even more impressive was rookie cornerback Anthony Brown, playing in place of an injured Morris Claiborne, who left the game with a concussion. The Packers went after Brown hard in the game and he came up with 11 total tackles, 10 of them solo, to hold his own against the Packers’ passing offense.
Special Teams: A
Dallas didn’t make any costly mistakes on special teams. Green Bay only punted the ball once, downing it, and Lucky Whitehead only had one chance to return a kickoff with a 21-yard return. However, when it comes to kicker Dan Bailey, it looks like he is over the back problems that hampered him a couple of weeks back. He went a perfect three-for-three on field goals in the game and hit all three extra points. Chris Jones averaged 41.5 yards per punt.
The Dallas Cowboys beat the Green Bay Packers, so that has to count for something here. With the win, only the undefeated Minnesota Vikings have a better record than the Cowboys this season. Dallas relied heavily on Ezekiel Elliott, and they might need to back off some in the future so they don’t wear down their rookie star. Also, unlike 2015, the Cowboys trust their quarterback with an open playbook and that is paying dividends as well.
The defense is playing very well considering the suspensions to two top stars and a lack of a pass rush. It is all because of defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who can really get players to play hard for him, even without the best talent on that side of the ball. Overall, the Dallas Cowboys didn’t hold back and played hard the entire game, something that they lacked in 2015.
Next week, the Dallas Cowboys get their bye week. This is going to be a huge two weeks for the Cowboys. The team is 5-1 and rank behind only the Vikings for the best record in the NFC. However, Tony Romo seems to be back to good health and the Cowboys have to decide whether they want to stick with Dak Prescott, who got the Cowboys to this point, or risk shaking up the chemistry by putting Romo back in. The Cowboys next game is against their division rival Philadelphia Eagles.