The Dallas Cowboys’ winning streak extends to four games as Big D downs the Los Angeles Rams by a score of 22-10.
The Cowboys were 5-point underdogs on Sunday afternoon. But the oddsmakers got this one very wrong.
Here’s what Dallas did well to improve to 4-1 on the year:
The Cowboys defense keeps rolling
Dallas’ defense made an impact from the get-go. On the Rams opening offensive drive, Dorance Armstrong strip-sacked Rams QB Matthew Stafford. Then, DeMarcus Lawrence scooped and scored the loose ball to give Dallas an early lead.
After the Rams ensuing drive stalled, Armstrong bursted through Los Angeles’ punt coverage to block the kick. This allowed Cooper Rush and the Cowboys offense to start the drive at the Rams 34 yard line.
The defensive dominance didn’t stop there.
The Cowboys defensive line has struggled stopping the run this season. But they were a brick wall against the Rams on Sunday. The Rams totaled just 38 rushing yards in the game, and Los Angeles’ RB1 Cam Akers tallied only two rushing yards in the second half.
Los Angeles was pass heavy on Sunday. Stafford was 28/42 on passing attempts for 308 yards. But the former Georgia Bulldog was under heavy pressure all afternoon.
Dallas sacked Stafford five times, forced and recovered two fumbles from the QB, and recorded an interception. Leading the way with two sacks and a forced fumble was Micah Parsons. Parsons was held sackless in the Cowboys last two games, but he could only be kept down for so long.
The Cowboys generally held Rams superstar receiver Cooper Kupp in check. But they did allow Kupp to get this catch and run 75-yard touchdown:
But that was the only touchdown allowed by the Cowboys defense. The unit has solidified itself as one of the best in the NFL.
Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard carried the offense
Remember in school when you were assigned a group project and a few people did all the work, while one person simply signed their name on the assignment?
That about describes the balance between the Cowboys defense and offense in Week 5. The defense balled out, while the offense underperformed.
Rush was 10/16 on pass attempts for 102 yards. If not for the Lawrence scoop and score and the Armstrong blocked punt, Dallas would’ve scored only 13 points.
But Rush didn’t get much help from his wide receivers. In the first half, Michael Gallup dropped an easy catch on third down that forced Dallas to punt. Then in the second half, CeeDee Lamb was guilty of dropping an easy reception on third down that ended another drive
The Cowboys veteran receivers are the last players you’d expect to make simple mistakes like that, but they did.
Luckily, the two-headed monster that is Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard saved the day. The duo had their second-highest rushing output of the season. Elliott had 22 carries for 78 yards, while Pollard had eight rushes for 86 yards.
The play of the day from the backfield came when Pollard brought a 57-yard rush to the house in the second quarter:
Micah Parsons groin injury
One thing to monitor going forward is Parsons’ health. The former Defensive Rookie of the Year was dealing with a nagging groin injury throughout the second half.
Parsons was used in a limited fashion in quarters three and four, only playing on third down and obvious passing downs.
While Parsons was visibly hurting from the injury and hobbling between snaps, it didn’t impact his performance. He iced the game late in the fourth quarter with this strip-sack on Stafford:
The Cowboys turn their attention to the Philadelphia Eagles, who are 5-0 and sit atop the AFC East standings. So when the Cowboys head to the City of Brotherly Love for a Week 6 Sunday Night Football showdown, NFC East supremacy will be on the line.