The Dallas Cowboys came off their bye with all eyes on them. Just who was this team and should we believe in them? They might not have quieted all of the criticism, but for this week they were sublime. Their 43-20 destruction of the Los Angeles Rams was a complete game of football. Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb were the stars, but players from all phases of the game contributed to the win and a 5-2 record on the season.
The Cowboys offense started the game in disastrous fashion. Substitute left tackle Chuma Edoga got beat for a sack on the first play. It appeared that Dak Prescott was then sacked again, but an illegal contact penalty on the Rams gave Dallas the first down and new life. Then Prescott was promptly sacked by Aaron Donald. The Cowboys offensive line was getting worked. Everything changed when CeeDee Lamb caught a pass and turned it into an 18-yard gain with plenty of YAC. From there Michael Gallup had a toe tap for a first down, and Brandin Cooks got a first down. Then, Jake Ferguson had a beautiful catch for a touchdown using a one-hand stab. What looked like an awful start turned into a touchdown drive.
The Cowboys defense buckled but didn’t break on the ensuing possession. After giving up some yards, the Cowboys had the Rams in third and long but DaRon Bland was beat by Puka Nacua on a crossing pattern in man-to-man coverage. Bland then made up for it by making a great tackle on a WR screen to force a field goal. The Cowboys were leading 7-3.
CeeDee Lamb had a big gain on slant to start the next drive, then Prescott started using his legs a bit. Lamb followed with a big gain on a jet sweep and the Cowboys offense was humming. An Aaron Donald sack unfortunately stalled the drive, but Brandon ‘Automatic’ Aubrey hit a 58-yard field goal straight down the middle with plenty of room to spare.
After that, Daron Bland did what DaRon Bland does. Pick-six on Matthew Stafford. Bland cut in front of a quick out by Cooper Kupp and took the ball to the house. Suddenly Dallas was up 17-3.
The Rams tried to recover starting in the second quarter but Micah Parsons stopped them with a third-down sack. The Cowboys weren’t done on the drive. Sam Williams blocked the punt and it flew out of the end zone for a safety. Dallas stretched the lead to 19-3 and got the ball. The Cowboys were starting to look like the team from the first two weeks of the season.
On the ensuing punt, KaVontae Turpin returned the ball 63 yards all the way to the Rams 13-yard line. Prescott eventually hit CeeDee Lamb for the touchdown. Lamb gave a little shake on a slant route and he was open. At 26-3, the Cowboys were looking for a route.
The Cowboys defense forced a three-and-out, giving the offense another run at it. The only thing the Cowboys couldn’t get working efficiently was the running game. They had a couple of decent runs, others were stuffed. The Rams had the Cowboys in a third and long, but Prescott stood in the face of pressure from a blitz and drilled a strike to CeeDee Lamb for the first down. Turpin caught a pass for another first down, converting a third down.
Everything looked good as Dallas entered the redzone, but then Prescott forced one into traffic that was tipped twice. The Rams had the interception. It was the Cowboys first big mistake of the game. The Dallas defense got the Rams to a third down when Parsons had a strip sack that was recovered by Jourdan Lewis, but it was overturned on replay. Still, Parsons hitting Stafford and forcing an incomplete pass created another three-and-out for the Rams.
Luke Schoonmaker got a catch for a first down to start the next drive. That was followed by CeeDee Lamb catching another slant that was turned into more hard-fought YAC. On a third-and-8 from the Rams 22 Prescott had to buy some time and roll out of the pocket; the Rams corner made a mistake by coming forward to try and stop Prescott from running for the first down. Prescott calmly fired a strike to Lamb in the end zone, 33-3 Dallas.
Before the half expired, the Rams finally found some offense behind a long pass to TuTu Atwell. The Rams were able to punch one in, but DeMarcus Lawrence wrecked the two-point conversion attempt, to make it 33-9 at halftime.
The Cowboys first half was close to perfect. Dak Prescott was in total command and taking control of the offense at the line of scrimmage, with real and fake audibles. CeeDee Lamb finally got his just rewards with a couple of touchdowns. Both the defense and special teams directly and indirectly contributed to scores. It was a show.
The Rams started the second half with a good drive behind a long running back screen play, and a power run from Royce Freeman. On third-and-6 the Rams scored a touchdown and converted a two-point conversion and suddenly it was a two-possession game, The Cowboys needed to respond.
KaVontae Turpin then made a mistake by taking the following kickoff from deep in the end zone and only getting to the 16-yard line. Prescott was able to move the team out from that hole, and suddenly Dallas was at midfield facing a 3rd-and-3. Another mistake from Turpin, a false start, set them back to 3rd-and-8. Prescott used his legs to get the first down, only to end up two plays later in a 3rd-and-9. Lamb came up just short of the first down and Dallas went for it. Prescott hit Cooks underneath to convert the fourth down. The drive eventually stalled and Automatic Aubrey hit a chip shot FG for a 36-17 lead. The drive was a long one and drained much of the third quarter.
Rams QB Matthew Stafford had been getting beat up all game, and his thumb was injured, so he was finally replaced by Brett Rypien. The Rams converted a 4th-and-2 to keep their drive alive. Then they had another 4th-and-2 which was unsuccessful on a bad throw, signaling the end of any kind of competitiveness in the game.
For good measure, Prescott threw a bullet to Brandin Cooks for a 25-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter for a 43-17 score. Dallas almost got an 88-yard touchdown on a punt return by Turpin, but Nahshon Wright was caught for a blatant hold that wiped it off the board. The Cowboys turned the game over to Cooper Rush after that.
One problem late in the game was the injury to Chuma Edoga. He had his knee rolled up on and had to leave on a cart. Asim Richards played much of the fourth quarter at left tackle.