By Elwyn Henderson
The 4-2 Dallas Cowboys returned home to AT&T Stadium in Arlington Sunday to host the 3-4 Los Angeles Rams. It was a special day for Cowboys fans as DeMarcus Ware was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor at halftime in front of a crowd of 93,448.
The Rams won the coin toss and elected to defer to begin the game. Ethan Evans kicked the ball out of the end zone and following a touch back Dak Prescott led the Dallas offense on their first possession of the day at their 25.
Thanks to an illegal contact on third down on the Rams defense, the Cowboys got a 5-yard penalty and new life with a first down. Prescott and the offense took advantage of the mistake by the visitors, marching the 75 yards into the end zone for their first TD of the day in 10 plays and 5:16. The score came on an 18-yard pass from Prescott to Jake Ferguson with 9:44 left in the first quarter.
Aubrey’s kickoff following the score went out of the end zone and Matthew Stafford brought his charges out to their 25 to begin the first Rams possession of the day.
Stafford led his unit down the field, but the Dallas defense came to life and forced the Rams to settle for a 33-yard Lucas Havrisik field goal with 5:22 left in the opening quarter. The drive was 10 plays, 60 yards and took 4:22 off the clock.
The Cowboys began their second drive of the day at their 25 following a touchback of the Evans kickoff after the Rams field goal.
The drive began well as Prescott hit CeeDee Lamb on a 17-yard pass on the first play of the possession. Things went well until Prescott was sacked for a 9-yard loss back at the Rams 40, bringing up a 4th and 14 from that point. Aubrey came in and nailed a 58-yard field goal with 43 seconds remaining in the quarter, giving Dallas a 10-3 lead. The drive was 9 plays, 35 yards and took 4:49.
The Rams began their next drive at the 25 following a touchback and on the first play of the possession Stafford gave up a pick-6 to DaRon Bland who intercepted the ball at the Rams 30 and ran into the end zone with nothing but green turf in front of him with 36 seconds left in the quarter. Aubrey added the PAT and Dallas extended their lead to 17-3.
Stafford led his charges back on the field at the 25 to begin their next drive. The defense forced a quick three-and-out and Evans lined up to punt the ball away from his 23. Sam Williams came bursting through the line and blocked the punt. The ball went through the back of the end zone resulting in a Dallas safety with 13:39 left in the first half, giving the ‘Boys a 19-3 lead.
Evans punted the ball away from his 20 following the safety. KaVantae Turpin fielded the ball at the Dallas 25 and returned it 63 yards to the Rams 13 and Prescott and the offense went to work once again. It took just 2 plays and 54 seconds for Dallas to find the end zone again. The score came on a 10-yard pass from Prescott to Lamb with 12:45 left in the half. Aubrey added the extra point and the Cowboys stretched the lead to 26-3.
The next Rams possession was another quick three-and-out and Evans came in to punt the ball from his 32. The punt died at the Dallas 20 and Prescott and the offense took the field once again.
The offense was marching down the field toward what looked as though it would be another touchdown when a Prescott pass was tipped and intercepted by Jordan Fuller at the Rams 2. He returned the ball up to the 19 and Stafford and his troops were back on offense.
Facing a third down, Stafford was hit and fumbled the ball and Jourdan Lewis recovered for the Cowboys at the LA 29. After a review by the referee it was determined that Stafford’s hand was going forward with control of the ball, resulting in a 4th and 6 from the 23. Evans punted the ball to Turpin at the Dallas 37. He was hit immediately and Prescott and company went back to work.
The offense moved down the field with efficiency and got into the end zone again with 2:27 left in the half. The score came on a 22-yard TD pass from Prescott to Lamb. Aubrey added the point after and the game had officially turned into a laugher with the home team up 33-3. The drive was 6 plays, 63 yards and consumed 2:41off the second quarter clock.
The Rams began their final drive of the half at their 25 following another touchback and Stafford led the visitors to their first TD of the game. The score came on a 1-yard run by Royce Freeman with 4 seconds left in the first half. The 75-yard drive was a 12-play affair that took 2:23. LA went for a 2-point conversion but a Stafford pass fell incomplete, making the score 33-9 at halftime.
The Rams began on their 25 after a touchback of the second half Aubrey kickoff and promptly marched down the field and got into the end zone for a second TD. The score came on a 20-yard pass from Stafford to Ben Skowronek with 11:29 left in the third quarter. Once again the Rams went for a 2-point conversion and used a little razzle dazzle. The snap was a handoff from Stafford around left end and then wide receiver Tutu Atwell took the ball on a reverse and threw to a wide open Stafford for a successful attempt, bringing the score to 33-17. The drive was 7 plays, 75 yards and took 3:31 off the third quarter clock.
The Cowboys moved down to the Rams 9 on their ensuing possession, but had to settle for a 27-yard Aubrey field goal with 1:32 left in the quarter, moving the score to 36-17. The drive was 17 plays, 66 yards and took 9:57 off the third quarter clock.
On the next Rams possession Brett Rypien came in at quarterback after Stafford re-injured a finger on his left hand that was hurt earlier in the game. Dallas forced an incomplete pass on 4th down and the Cowboys got the ball back at their 46 with 13:19 left in the game.
Prescott led the team on a 54-yard TD drive that took just 3 plays and exactly 1 minute. Aubrey’s extra point kick was good and the Dallas lead jumped to 43-17 with 12:19 left in the game.
The Rams were forced to punt on their next possession and Turpin returned the kick for an apparent touchdown but the Cowboys were called for holding on the return, negating the score and moving the ball half the distance to the goal at the Dallas 6.
With the outcome guaranteed, Coach Mike McCarthy put Cooper Rush in at quarterback to finish the game. The LA defense forced a three-and-out and Bryan Anger came in to punt the ball from deep in his own end zone. The Rams returner was tackled at the LA 46 and Dallas went back on defense.
The Dallas defense stiffened as the Rams moved down to the Dallas 29 and on 4th down Havrisik booted a 36-yard field goal with 5:31 left in the game, cutting the deficit to 43-20. The drive was 7 plays, 25 yards and took 2:48 off the clock.
After yet another touchback Rush brought the Cowboys offense out at their 25 to begin the next offensive possession. It was a quick three-and-out and Anger punted the ball away from the Dallas 33. The kick was fair caught at the Rams 15 and the visitors got another chance to add points in their losing effort. The Cowboys forced another three-and-out and Evans punted the ball away from his 12. The kick was spotted right at midfield and the Dallas offense got one more possession, hoping to run out the clock. LA had all three of their timeouts left but didn’t bother to call a single one and the Cowboys ran the
last seconds off the clock and walked off with the 43-20 win to move to 5-2 on the season.
The Mirror asked Coach Mike McCarthy when he held his press conference after the game how special it was to get the big win on the day DeMarcus Ware went into the Ring of Honor.
“Oh, it’s cool. I got to get to see DeMarcus pregame and obviously, a huge day for him getting the honor after a huge career, so anything we could add to that was a blessing.”
When Dak Prescott met with the media after the big win we mentioned that the team appears to be a lot more confident after the blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers earlier in the season, and we asked if he felt better about this team since he came to Dallas.
“That’s a good call. Sure, and I’m also older and understand a lot more than maybe other years in the past. There’s things we’ve got to get better on. We’ve got to improve; a lot of meat left on the bone out there. We’re the biggest critics ofourselves, so we’re going to continue to look at ourselves and evaluate to see where we can improve on our strengths and lessen our weaknesses. There’s a lot of meat left on the bone on this team, but we’re getting some big wins. We’re doing it in a great fashion—complimentary, but yeah, sure, feel great about this team. I think it begins with the men, the leadership and then the young talent that we have. It’s a great combination of both, and as I alluded to earlier, coaching. We’ve got great coaching. Putting all that together, continuing to try to build great momentum and put our best football out there, we’ll continue to do that and the confidence will continue to grow.”
It won’t take long to see just HOW good this team is. They travel to Philadelphia next Sunday to take on the NFC East first place Eagles who are sporting a 6-1 record. IF the Cowboys can go into one of the most hostile environments in the NFL and leave the city with a victory, this may well indeed be the best team Dak has seen so far in his career in Dallas.