Defense steps up big as Dallas Cowboys edge out Bengals

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

It’s safe to say Cooper Rush blew away all Dallas Cowboys fans’ expectations today as he led the Cowboys to a 20-17 victory. When the news of Dak Prescott’s injury emerged there was a collective groan from Cowboys fans across the country.

I saw many on Twitter declare the season dead as Prescott was ruled out 6-8 weeks with a fracture in his hand. I myself, was not optimistic, but after today I have more confidence.

A Dallas Cowboys Playoff Appearance will be determined by the the defense

Cooper Rush had a fantastic first half with a touchdown to Noah Brown and long reception to Tony Pollard which was capped off by a short rush by Pollard at the one yard line. The second half was a little more of a challenge for Rush as he really struggled to keep anything going.

Much like last week, the defense stepped up big and gave the offense a chance to win. For most of the game, Rush and the offense refused to do anything with the help and I was beginning to get strong deja vu from week one.

But again and again the defense would bend but not break giving up a flurry of field goals and then finally a touchdown in the final 3 minutes and 51 seconds of the game.

After a dud drive from Rush it was time for the defense to give one last push to give the Dallas Cowboys the best possible chance to win the football game. This by far, was the most important drive of the game.

Without the three and out, I don’t think that the Cooper Rush has enough time to get Maher in field goal range due to the foolish decision by the coaching staff to call a timeout with 18 second instead of spiking the ball. No three and out I don’t think the Cowboys can maximize that final minute to put together something great. Even if defense stops them on the next set of downs that would leave them with maybe 35-40 seconds on the clock.

The key play of that final drive on defense had to be Diggs tackling Boyd immediately as he caught the ball. The way he instantly recognized that Boyd was moving to the flat and blew it up was something special. Not only that but he locked down Ja’Marr Chase. And yet, nobody ever wants to talk about that. He is becoming a special player in the league. Sacrificing the interception to make the necessary play.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Micah Parsons in today’s game. He was really all over the place and causing havoc in an already weak offensive line. What made it even more sweet is when he managed to get past former Dallas Cowboy La’el Collins for his first sack of the day.

With four sacks in only two games, he is on pace for an uncontested Defensive Player of the Year. Parsons really hasn’t skipped a beat from his rookie campaign and has established himself as a cornerstone on the defense. He and Leighton Vander Esch have been able to cause some real chaos in the middle of the field and Dan Quinn has been able to maximize both of their abilities.

Noah Brown deserves love as well after tonight’s performance. It was clear after last week someone other than Cee Dee Lamb would have to step up and Brown decided to step in. While he did lead the team in receiving yards along with a touchdown, the ability to grab attention and get it away from Lamb was essential to keeping the offense primed even during the lull in the 2nd half.

Lamb was targeted 11 times and was able to grab seven receptions for 75 yards. The touchdowns for him will come, but to have at least two guys you’re able to rely on when Rush drops back is a real peace of mind when facing some more elite secondaries.

Not to mention Tony Pollard is one of the more dangerous running backs when you get him in space.

This is not to say the season has been flipped on its head, but there is a lot to build off of. The team didn’t dwell on a disappointing first week, turned it around on last year’s AFC Champs, and established that they weren’t just going to roll over.

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It’s always more fun to talk about a win than a loss and the Dallas Cowboys get another primetime slot on Monday Night Football against the Giants to make yet another statement.