The Dallas Cowboys move to 1-1 thanks to a 50-yard field goal from Brett Maher as time expired. Dallas downed the Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 20-17.
The Cowboys season is back on track after notching its first win of the year. It’s a good thing they came out victorious because since the NFL merger in 1970, 400 teams have started seasons 0-2. Only 38 made the playoffs, which is 9.5%, per Stathead.
While Dallas avoided that daunting 0-2 stat, this win wasn’t without flaws. Here are the biggest things we saw in the Week 2 victory:
Tale of two halves
The Cowboys offense played well in the first half. Dallas scored 17 points, Cooper Rush had 168 passing yards and a touchdown pass to Noah Brown, who had 79 receiving yards in the first two quarters.
The Cowboys’ rushing attack was also effective in the first half. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard combined for 54 rushing yards, including a Pollard touchdown.
But things went south in the second half. The Cowboys’ offense only scored three points in the final two quarters. Rush threw for only 67 yards, and the running backs combined for only 42 yards on the ground.
Dallas led 17-3 at halftime and allowed 14 unanswered points before Maher drilled the game-winning kick. The inconsistent play offensively nearly cost the Cowboys the game, but the defense picked up the slack.
The defense saved the day
While the offense had highs and lows, the defense remained dominant throughout the game. Dallas sacked Bengals QB Joe Burrow six times, two of which came from Micah Parsons.
The Cowboys also held Burrow to just 199 yards, running back Joe Mixon ran for just 54 yards and last season’s offensive rookie of the year WR Ja’Marr Chase had only 54 receiving yards.
Burrow was dealing with constant pressure from the Cowboys’ defensive line, and it forced him to get the ball out of his hands quickly. This helped counter the big play ability that Chase normally displays.
The Cowboys defensive and special teams did make a few blunders that resulted in points for Cincinnati.
Early in the first quarter, Burrow slid short of the first down marker on third down but Anthony Barr hit Burrow late and was flagged for a personal foul. The Bengals’ drive continued and Cincinnati ended it with a field goal.
The Cowboys were also called for a false start on a Bengals punt to open the third quarter. The flag gave Cincinnati a first down, and this drive also ended in a field goal.
If not for those two penalties, the Bengals would’ve punted the ball back to the Cowboys in each instance. Instead, Cincinnati scored six points off the mistakes.
Feeding Pollard was key
The fourth-year running back was a major difference maker in the Week 2 victory. Pollard led Dallas in all-purpose yards with 43 yards coming on the ground and 55 yards coming through the air.
His biggest play was a 47-yard rush in the first quarter that resulted in a Cowboys touchdown.
Pollard’s big play ability made things a bit easier for Rush and the rest of the offense. It may be time for offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to consider giving equal touches to Pollard and Elliott.
The Cowboys now shift its focus to a Week 3 matchup with the 2-0 New York Giants on Monday Night Football.