It was an early season critical matchup for the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams as both teams look to prove to the NFL that they have what it takes to make a legit playoff push. In the end, it was the defense and the rushing offense of the Cowboys that led to the 22-10 win over the Rams in Los Angeles.
First Half Highlights
Three plays into the Los Angeles Rams’ opening drive saw Matthew Stafford sacked by Dorance Armstrong who also stripped Stafford of the football. DeMarcus Lawrence recovered the ball and returned it 19 yards for the touchdown. New Cowboys long snapper Matt Overton snapped the ball too early on the extra point and couldn’t be handled which resulted in a failed extra point. The Cowboys took an early 6-0 lead in the game.
On the next Rams offensive possession, they were forced to punt which resulted in a punt blocked by Armstrong to set Dallas up at the Rams’ 20-yard line for their first offensive possession.
The offense for the Cowboys would not be able to do much as it led to a 33-yard field goal by Brett Maher to give Dallas a 9-0 lead in the first quarter.
Trevon Diggs got burned by Tutu Atwell on a 54-yard completion that eventually led to a Rams field goal to see Dallas still lead 9-3. Not much action between both offenses until about nine minutes to go in the second quarter where Diggs had been beaten again with Cooper Kupp responsible this time. Kupp would take it 75 yards for a touchdown to give the Rams a 10-9 lead.
Dallas’ offense would respond on the next drive as Rush connected with CeeDee Lamb on a 16-yard completion. Right afterward, Tony Pollard breaks a 57-yard touchdown run to give Dallas the lead again at 16-10.
The story of the first half was the great play of the defense as even though they allowed 236 yards, 129 of those yards came off of two plays leading to ten points. Anthony Brown had a strong first half in coverage with Diggs struggling after allowing the two big pass plays. The front seven of the Dallas defense was able to hold the Rams to just 36 yards rushing and did a great job pressuring Stafford throughout the half.
Dallas’ rushing attack recorded 106 yards on the ground in the first half with 59 of them coming from Pollard and Ezekiel Elliot getting 49 yards. Rush wasn’t asked to do much as he was under 100 yards passing and was sacked twice by Aaron Donald. The Rams controlled the ball for most of the half so the offense didn’t see much play on the field.
Two key injuries from the first half as tight end Dalton Schultz took a hit on the knee as he would make a return to the game. The biggest of the injuries was Micah Parsons suffering a lower leg injury he would also return for the second half but was clearly not 100 percent.
Second Half Highlights
Dallas started the second half on offense and found early success thanks in part to Michael Gallup catching a nice back-shoulder pass on the sidelines for 26 yards. After one more first down, the Cowboys set up Maher with a 40-yard field goal that was successful. The Cowboys took up almost seven minutes on the clock on 13 plays to increase their lead to 19-10.
The Rams were able to get two first downs on their next offensive possession and got into the Cowboys’ territory. That all ended with Parsons proving that even though he wasn’t 100 percent healthy, he can still get to Stafford with a big third-down sack to force the punt.
Cowboys punter Bryan Anger had a rough 35-yard punt that put the Rams inside the 30-yard line. Los Angeles would lose four yards on the drive leading to Rams kicker Matt Gay missing a 51-yard field goal to help the Cowboys maintain a nine-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
After each team traded three and outs, KaVontae Turpin got a nice 12-yard punt return to get them to the Cowboys’ 48-yard line. The rushing attack of Pollard and Elliot carried the Cowboys to the Rams’ 17-yard line that led to another Maher field goal giving them a 22-10 lead with about five and a half minutes to go in the game.
The Rams were able to drive right down the field on their next offensive possession as they got as close as the Cowboys’ 16-yard line. After a holding penalty and an Osa Odighizuwa sack, Stafford throws a critical interception to Malik Hooker at the Dallas four-yard line.
Dallas went three and out on their next offensive possession giving the ball back to the Rams. Parsons comes up big though with a sack-fumble recovered by Dallas to seal the win for the Cowboys.
The truth of the matter is Los Angeles controlled the time of possession for a good portion of the game which kept the ball out of Dallas’ hands. Rush wasn’t asked to do much as once again the team asked him to not turn the ball over. He was efficient and had a high completion percentage with just 102 yards passing.
Dallas’ running game with Elliot and Pollard carried the offense through the game as the Cowboys contributed 163 yards rushing to the final numbers. Pollard showed his big breakaway playability with the 57-yard score in the first half. Elliot didn’t do any special but was effective in getting three to five-yard rushes to keep drives moving.
Two big plays were allowed by Diggs in the first half, but the defense for Dallas was exceptional once again shutting down the rushing attack to force Stafford to pass. Stafford was pressured plenty of times throughout the game with good pressure from Parsons in portions of the game. Dallas sacked Stafford five times and forced two fumbles. Fans could tell Los Angeles gave up on the run after the Dallas front seven allowed just 38 yards on 15 rushes.
Dorance Armstrong had to be the MVP of the first half for what he did with the sack fumble as well as the punt block to lead to nine points for Dallas. Anthony Brown had the best game in coverage as he didn’t allow many yards after the catch and stepped up in a big way in the secondary. Parsons was banged up, but it was nice to see him record two sacks and a forced fumble after his two-game drought without one.
The Cowboys win their fourth straight game to improve their record to 4-1 on the season. The win sets up an NFC East showdown Sunday night against the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles with first place in the division on the line.
Dallas Cowboys Box Score
|Leighton Vander Esch||5||3||0||0||0||0||0|
|Dante Fowler Jr.||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|