It was not the prettiest way to do it, but the Dallas Cowboys reasserted themselves as an NFC power outlasting the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3 on Monday Night Football. Dallas got off to an extremely slow start, but Arizona failed to deliver the knockout blow in the first half when it had the chance. The Cowboys “bend but don’t break” defense did just that and kept Dallas in the game in the early going. The offense took advantage of good field position in the second half en route to the 28-17 victory.
Cowboys Winners and Losers from Week 3
Winner: Demarcus Lawrence
Demarcus Lawrence absolutely terrorized Cardinals right tackle Jared Veldheer all night. Lawrence sacked Carson Palmer three times and registered six quarterback hits. He also caused a Veldheer holding penalty that negated an Arizona touchdown that would have put the Cardinals in front by two scores at the beginning of the second quarter. Instead, Phil Dawson subsequently missed a field goal and the momentum in the game shifted. For his showing on Monday, Lawrence earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors and also leads the NFL with 6.5 sacks. Lawrence is having the best season of his career and the silver lining is he’s in a contract year.
Winner: Dak Prescott
The offense started the game poorly and his numbers were mild (13-of-18 for 183 yards), but Dak Prescott played like a seasoned veteran when the Cowboys needed him to. Trailing 7-0 late in the second quarter, Prescott got the Cowboys on the board with a quarterback keeper, flipping over tacklers to get in the end zone. Early in the fourth quarter, with the score tied at 14-14, Prescott rolled to his right and found Brice Butler for a 37-yard touchdown to put Dallas on top for good. On the final drive of the game, Prescott had another big throw. Rolling out again Prescott hooked up with Butler for a 53-yard pitch-and-catch that later set up an Ezekiel Elliott 8-yard scoring rush to put the game out of reach. Prescott showed he can make big plays when he needs to and made some nice progress in his development as a pro.
Winner: Jourdan Lewis
The banged-up Cowboys secondary has forced a few players into the fray early in the season. Rookie corner Jourdan Lewis played solid against the Cardinals after yielding two touchdown passes a week earlier in Denver. Lewis played nearly 60 percent of the defensive snaps, closed well on receivers on his six solo tackles and added a pass deflection on third down to force a punt. The Cowboys should be pleased with their third-round pick and confident if Lewis has to fill in again with corners Chidobe Awuzie and Nolan Carroll both nursing injuries.
Loser: Dez Bryant
Just two receptions for Dez Bryant on Monday, however one of which was a 15-yard touchdown as he barreled through four Cardinal defenders to get across the goal line. The other was a botched bubble screen for negative-3. This isn’t the first time this season that Bryant has been shut down either as he hauled in only two catches against the New York Giants in Week 1. Bryant had the tough assignment of being shadowed by Patrick Peterson, but the Cowboys are going to need more production out of their star receiver if they want continued success this season.
Loser: Time of Possession/3rd Down Conversions
The Cowboys were dominated in the first half of this game and were extremely fortunate to get to the locker room at halftime with a tie score 7-7. In the first quarter, Arizona’s offense ran 21 plays, gained over 140 yards and held the ball for 13:06. Compared to the Cowboys three plays for three yards over 1:54. For the game, Dallas was outgained 332-273, out snapped 75-45 and lost the time of possession battle by 12:30. In addition, the offense only converted 2-of-9 3rd Downs. The Cowboys defense kept them in the game and gave the offense good field position that it eventually took advantage of. This recipe will not last in future games as the defense will wear down with that amount of work.
Loser: Rest of the Cowboys Secondary
While Lewis played well, for the most part, the other Cowboy defensive backs did not. Larry Fitzgerald torched the Cowboys secondary for 149 yards on 13 receptions and beat Anthony Brown on a corner route for a touchdown. Brown was also on the coverage, along with Jeff Heath as Jaron Brown went over the middle for a 25-yard score on the Cardinals opening drive. The secondary did settle in at times but benefited from an effective defensive pass rush and the Cowboys front seven shutting down the run. The unit is not playing at full strength, but one of the biggest question marks about the Cowboys defense this year was the secondary and it hasn’t done enough to dispel those uncertainties yet.