The Dallas Cowboys find themselves at 1-1 on the season following a 20-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at AT&T Stadium. It would prove to be a tale of two halves, but with the Cowboys defense winded and the offense stuck in mud both were able to come up with big plays. Excellent time management and execution lead to a Brett Maher 50 yard walk off field goal.
Game notes from the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 win over the Bengals:
- The hero gets first nod. The Dallas Cowboys had several questions coming into the 2022 season. All of them, at some point or another, have already shown up in the first two weeks of the season. Except kicker. Maher has been monumental. He connected on a 54 yard attempt to close the first half and as an encore he also nails the game winner from 50 yards out with time running out. Special teams as a whole played a big part in this game, but Maher takes the most clutch moments. There will be plenty more ST to discuss
- Micah Parsons continues to be a total game wrecker. Seeing two more sacks being added to his total doesn’t do justice to the havoc he created. Not only did he constantly force Joe Burrow off his spots, but put additional clean hits on him as well. Even other players getting stats in the box score have Parsons to thank. Leighton Vander Esch had a quality game, but his sack is thanks to Parsons moving Burrow. He also made plays in the run game we shouldn’t ignore.
- Trevon Diggs had a very good night in coverage, but his biggest play came late in the 4th quarter. On third down the Bengals test Diggs recognition and tackling ability. One of those is always outstanding, the other at times leaves plenty to long for. However, Diggs came screaming down and put a solid hit on Tyler Boyd to force the Bengals to punt.
- Cooper Rush came out hot. The run game was effective and even explosive. It’s unfortunate they shifted down in gear in the second half. The encouraging part is they rode the momentum of the defense and special teams to finish out the game. Rush did an outstanding job of commanding the offense and getting guys lined up in a high intensity 1-minute situation. A little luck will always be involved on a tipped ball going for a big gain. Otherwise, it was all Rush. The Dallas Cowboys also scored 20 points in their win over Minnesota last season which Cooper Rush started.
- Noah Brown had a career game. Five catches for 91 yards and his first career touchdown. He and Cooper Rush have a connection together. Which makes sense considering a player in Brown’s position is likely to see lots of practice reps with the QB2. Brown did his job efficiently and with high impact. Every catch went for a first down and his extension on the TD catch helped his QB on a less than precise throw.
- Good to see CeeDee Lamb be more engaged this week than he was last week. He didn’t explode, but with the attention he’ll get, plus the chemistry between Rush and Brown, it was good to see Lamb make a strong contribution and bounce back from a rough week 1.
- The Offensive Line played better this week, specifically Terence Steele. Matter of fact, this gave Jerry and Stephen Jones some “told ya so” power as La’el Collins got worked almost all night while Steele held his own against a good defensive front.
- On Tony Pollard’s big run, there’s so much fantastic blocking to be seen. Biadasz, Smith, and Schultz get key blocks to spring Pollard. It was even one of Matt Farniok’s better moments in a rough night.
- The Dallas Cowboys had to love what they say from the Tight Ends in the blocking game. Dalton Schultz was consistent even against some tougher assignments, but Jake Ferguson really looked beyond his years in flashes. To open the 4th quarter Pollard takes a handoff, Ferguson is able to get to the second level and seal the lane for a 17 yard pickup. With Schultz in question due to a PCL injury, Ferguson could be asked to step up in the coming weeks.
- Dante Fowler made some massive splash plays, but was also consistent in his snaps. First he gave Burrow the ‘ol Mutombo on a 3rd and 5. Fowler rushes inside and there’s nothing there, but he’s relentless. Fowler spins into Burrow’s throwing lane, gets his hands up and forces the punt. The same maximum effort (and spin move) can be seen on his strip sack of Burrow.
- The rest of the defensive front impressed as well. DeMarcus Lawrence played the run exceptionally well, as usual. Dorance Armstrong continues to ascend as a player while guys like Osa Odighizuwa and Quinton Bohanna played well in the run game. Micah Parsons wrecked the game, but as a unit the defensive line played consistently well.
- Donovan Wilson had a missed tackle against Joe Mixon that would’ve otherwise made his night next to perfect. He seems to be back to 2020 form. Wilson as a striker and excellent downhill safety has been very valuable with Jayron Kearse out.
- It felt like the Dallas Cowboys offense was willing to put the whole game on the defense’s shoulders in the 2nd half. The drop in aggressive play calling seemed obvious. They want to shorten the game, but the aggressiveness put you up 17-3 at the half. Instead of showing some killer instinct it felt like the staff tried to pack up and get out as fast as possible with a win. Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore have to be more bold in those situations.
- We will end the same way we started. Talking about Special Teams. It’s the 3rd phase of the game. It usually gets overlooked, but how about this sequence that helped the Cowboys win the game: 1. Bryan Anger pins 4 out of 5 punts inside the 20, including his final punt on the Bengals final drive. 2. Following a three and out, Kevontae Turpin has a nice 14 yard return to set the Cowboys up in decent field position. Then finally No. 3 is the Maher field goal. In a matter of 2:20 at the end of the 4th quarter Special Teams made three plays required to beat the opponent.
Next week the Dallas Cowboys are on the road to take on the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. Currently the Giants are 2-0 following wins against the Titans and Panthers.