The Dallas Cowboys Week 14 Grades: Dallas avoids the upset in Arlington

Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys were far from their best today. Their offense was disjointed, the defense was listless, and they played uninspired for most of the game.

Earlier this week, Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy had warned his team about not taking the cheese vs the Houston Texans.

Good teams win ugly games. The Dallas Cowboys are a good team but you couldn’t tell it by today’s disappointing performance.

At the end of the day. It is all about winning. The Cowboys made enough plays to win the game after playing in a fog most of the afternoon.

Dallas now stands with a record of 10-3. And a glimmer of hope they can still catch the Philadelphia Eagles.

Dallas didn’t lose the game, but they dealt with a rash of injuries. RT Terence Steele, NT Johnathan Hankins and TE Jake Ferguson all exited the game with injuries.

It has been reported that Ferguson has a concussion. Hankins suffered a suffered a pectoral strain. DE Dorance Armstrong sprained his ankle on the Hail Mary interception. It is believed to be a low-ankle sprain. Steele is scheduled for an MRI sometime today.

Let’s hand out grades

Dallas Cowboys Run Offense

The Dallas Cowboys run offense struggled most of the game. The offensive line was not opening up holes. Tony Pollard averaged 15.2 carries and 93.3 yards over the past six games. Today, Pollard only had 10 carries for a measly 42 yards.

Ezekiel Elliott had the game’s longest run of 25 yards. Setting up his game winning 2-yard rushing touchdown on the last drive with 41 seconds remaining.

Elliott and Pollard combined for 104 rushing yards on 25 carries and two rushing touchdowns.

Grade: C

Dallas Cowboys Pass Offense

The passing offense wasn’t clicking in the last couple of games. The route combinations have caused poor spacing. Two guys were running the same routes.

The miscommunications between Dak Prescott and his pass catchers continue. Resulting in two interceptions. Dak has nine in eight games, seven have come in the second quarter. He needs to handle the ball better.

The Cowboys’ most explosive wide receiver is CeeDee Lamb. It makes no sense that he only had 5 catches from 7 targets. Kellen Moore has to do a better job of scheming him open.

Lovie Smith did an excellent job of giving Dallas different looks in coverage. All day, the Texans mixed up their coverage.

Dak didn’t find any kind of rhythm until the last drive. He spear-headed a 11-play, 98-yard touchdown drive to win the game. It was his 18th career game-winning drive of his career.

Grade: C

Dallas Cowboys Pass Defense

The vaunted pass rush was a no show today. The Cowboys lead the league in sacks and came away with zero today.

The defensive line couldn’t generate any consistent pressure. DE Dorance Armstrong recorded the team’s only QB hit.

That is pathetic considering how bad the Texans are at protecting their QB. Kelvin Joseph gave up a big play early, but he settled down as the game went on.

Dallas had a scare when Trevon Diggs exited the game with a left thumb injury, but returned. Diggs had five tackles and a fumble recovery.

Grade: C

Dallas Cowboys Run Defense

DeMarcus Lawrence is the only DE who continues to play the run. He made a big time play at the goal line in tackling Rex Burkhead for a two-yard loss on 3rd down.

Leighton Vander Esch led the team with 14 tackles. Damone Clark continues to flash his side line to side line ability.

Dameon Pierce was limited to 78 yards on 22 carries. Johnathan Hankins’ absence was felt when he exited the game with a injury.

Grade: C

Dallas Cowboys Special Teams

Ka’Vontae Turpin’s muffed punt was the first turnover of the game. Instead of taking a 14-0 lead, the turnover provided a glimmer of hope for the Texans. Hope that made them believe they had a chance.

Brett Maher continues to makes it looks easy. He made a 53-yard field goal in the third quarter. He continues to be the best off-season free agent signing.


Dallas Cowboys Coaching

Dallas was flat, listless, and played sloppy football all game long. They had no business winning this game. I don’t know if they didn’t take the Texans serious or not.

It doesn’t matter what your record is. If you play sloppy in the National Football League, you will not win many games despite your talent.

Kellen Moore could not get the passing game on track. He had no answers for his QB.

Using motion to free up CeeDee Lamb that he deployed last week was disregarded this week. Lamb was a non-factor.

Tony Pollard, who started hot, was a after thought in the second half. Moore’s inability to feature his most explosive play-makers is baffling.

The running game is the foundation of this team, but on 4th down when the Texans are selling out for the run. You would think a play action pass would be the counter after you ran the ball eight straight times. Instead, Moore went full Jason Garrett and had Elliott run into a wall of defenders.

When faced against the league’s better defensive coordinators, Moore has not shown he can adjust. Dallas better be prepared to face more cover 2 and 3 in the future. The NFL is a copy cat league.

Dan Quinn’s defense continues to have problems with dealing with RPOs. The Cowboys’ defensive ends kept crashing inside as opposed to capturing the edge. The Eagles are taking notes, so watch this.

When it mattered, Quinn’s troops made key stops on the Texans’ last drive.

It was wise to insert Jason Peters at RT on the last drive. Dallas better hope that the Terence Steele injury is not serious. Losing him for the season would be an immense blow.


dark. Next. The Dallas Cowboys need more from this team

The Dallas Cowboys won. That is all that matters. Dak Prescott was fantastic on the game winning drive. All credit to Prescott for having the ability to compartmentalize and lead his team to victory on the last drive.

Dallas need to realize that teams will get up for them. Every week. Houston played like this game was their Super Bowl. Credit must be given to Dallas for fighting through the adversity. This could serve them well down the road.

You never apologize for winning in the NFL. With the 10th win, the Cowboys have back-to-back double-digit win seasons in 26 years.

Up next the Jacksonville Jaguars.