Dallas Cowboys score the ideal outcome in loss to Pittsburgh

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

All things considered, things went quite splendidly for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon

The Dallas Cowboys may have lost on the scoreboard Sunday afternoon but they won in just about every other way thought to be possible. No, this isn’t about a “moral victory”. No one expects the Dallas Cowboys to regain their Super Bowl contender status. So the only moral victory would be a literal victory since it would achieve next to nothing for the franchise.

This ideal outcome is about getting the right pieces to play well. It’s about developing and correcting. It’s about being good enough to beat the last undefeated team in the NFL if it hadn’t had been for a handful of very questionable calls by officials.

Most Cowboys fans are resigned to the fact 2020 is a lost season. Fans are still actively cheering for the silver and blue to play well, but at this point, winning the best possible draft pick seems more important than actually winning the games. The loss on Sunday moved Dallas to 2-7 and into the top-3 of the 2021 NFL Draft. That’s huge win.

As an be expected from a injury-riddled and patchwork roster, there were a handful of mistakes on Sunday. But there was far more good discovered than bad, and we need to recognize Sunday was a rousing success in multiple areas.

Let’s dive in…

Leighton Vander Esch – Yes, he lost his cool for a split second and was flagged for a retaliation penalty at a key point late in the game. But all in all, LVE had a strong game and is getting back to that standout rookie season from 2018. His ability to wrap up on those reach tackles is back and he’s becoming a force in multiple facets of the game. This speaks well to the long-term health of the defense.

Trevon Diggs – Before he was sidelined and replaced with Saivion Smith (can we just replace Smith with Chris Westry at this point?) Diggs was having his typical up-and-down game. The bad news is he gave up a 71.4% completion percentage when targeted (Per PFF) but the good news he continued to improve technique and continued to show his ball-hawking skills.

In the first quarter he tracked a ball down the sideline and if it hadn’t had been for safety Donovan Wilson, he possibly could have picked off another ball. Rookie CBs rarely fare well in the NFL and growing pains aren’t just expected, they’re almost required. It’s good to see those growing pains get out of the way now in 2020.

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Donovan Wilson – speaking of that almost interception, Donovan Wilson was tracking that same deep ball and if he hadn’t had collided with Diggs, he may have pulled in the INT as well. We’ll have to wait until the All-22 before we can endorse Wilson’s total body of work, but at face value he looks like he can be a legit SAF3 for the Cowboys with some +ball skills to highlight.

Garrett Gilbert – Gilbert had a performance to remember. Named the starter just days ago, Gilbert picked up the offense and ran with it -literally ran for 9.3 yards per carry. Gilbert made big throws all over the field and while he didn’t light the opponent up, he more than held his own against the best defense in the NFL.

Gilbert isn’t going to steal the starting job from Dak Prescott for next year but he did look like he could be a competent back-up. He can make all the throws, makes good quick decisions under fire, and even adds a ground game. There’s a lot to like here.

Neville Gallimore – The dude flashed his best game of his career on Sunday. He exploded off the snap, he showed grown man power (rare for a rookie DT) and pushed around that veteran Steeler O-line. He pressured and pushed the pocket and closed gaps consistently. Helluva game from the rookie 4th round pick.

light. Related Story. Trevon Diggs playing like the next Marcus Peters

Next. Dak-less Cowboys may be the worst team in the NFL. dark

There was a lot to like on Sunday. The Dallas Cowboys moved into the top-3 in draft order all while playing arguably their best game of the season. Young players stepped up their game and this team no longer looks like the complete rebuild it once did.

  • Published on 11/09/2020 at 12:01 PM
  • Last updated at 11/09/2020 at 12:32 PM