The Dallas Cowboys beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday Night Football by a score of 26-20. The Dallas’ defense forced four turnovers on Jameis Winston that led to 10 Dallas’ points and that proved to be a huge factor in this game. The Cowboys are one win or a Giants loss away from clinching the top seed in the NFC.
Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 159 yards to set a new season and career high. The Bucs defense was playing great coming into this game, but Elliott ran all over and made a great case for rookie of the year and potentially MVP. His highlight of the game came after he rushed for a two yard touchdown in the second quarter. After he scored, he celebrated by “donating himself to charity”:
The NFL is not finning Elliott for his celebration but he will still donate to the Salvation Army to help the cause.
After almost two seasons, Byron Jones recorded his first interception of his career. The interception came at the end of the first half as Winston threw a Hail Marry to the end zone. Hopefully this is the first interception of many to come from Jones.
At age 34, Jason Witten once again got the better of Father Time as he caught all 10 of his targets against the Bucs. His 10 receptions are his most in a game since week 17 of the 2013 season. He also passed Terrell Owens to move into seventh place on the all time reception list (1,086). Witten has been a force for many years and he is still producing at a high rate.
Dak Prescott rebounded nicely after struggling the past two weeks. He completed a season and career high 32 passes out of 36 attempts. He had no passing touchdowns but he did run for his fifth touchdown of the year passing Don Meredith for a new franchise quarterback rushing touchdown record in a single season. The rookie quarterback is shinning and he needs to continue to do so the next couple of weeks.
David Irving was getting pressure on Winston all day, sacking him twice to go along with five quarterback hits. Irving is 6’7″ and with that kind of size on the the defensive line, it is an imposing presence for opposing quarterbacks. He has not played a whole lot this year, but his playing time should rise after this performance.
The Dallas defense continues to play great after many expected them to be one of the worst in the league. They are one of the best rushing defenses in the league and they give the fourth fewest points per game (18.4). Along with their great rushing defense, they have not allowed some big name receivers to go off this year against them: Odell Beckham Jr. (week one: 4 rec, 73 yards), Alshon Jeffery (5 rec, 70 yards), A.J. Green (4 rec, 50 yards), Jordy Nelson (5 rec, 68 yards), and Mike Evans (4 rec, 59 yards). The defense needs to keep doing what they have done all year for Dallas to make a deep playoff run.
Other game notes:
- Ezekiel Elliott broke the record for most rushing touchdowns by a Cowboys’ rookie (12)
- Jason Witten fumbled the ball for the first time since week 5 of last season
- This was Darren McFadden‘s first game this season after breaking his elbow in the offseason
- Alfred Morris was inactive for the first time in his career
- Dez Bryant caught 8 passes to set a new season high for catches in a game
- Sean Lee recorded at least 10 total tackles in a game for the ninth time this season
- Dan Bailey missed two field goals for the first time since week 13 of his rookie season
The Dallas’ defense, Ezekiel Elliott and the rest of the Cowboys will look to secure the number one seed next week when the Detroit Lions come to town on Monday Night Football.