The Cowboys Report

Dallas Cowboys year in review

Zeke Elliot keeps rolling. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys (11-7) 2018 season came to an end Saturday night with a 30-22 loss to the Los Angeles Rams (14-3).They failed to win another road playoff game and were unable to make it to their first Conference Championship game since 1996.

The 8 point loss does not paint a true picture of the game. Dallas was never in a realistic position to win. The Rams dominated the Cowboys by shutting down Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, controlling the clock, and scoring on 5 of their 7 possessions.

Elliott was held to 22 touches total, 20 carries for 47 yards (1 Touchdown), and 2 catches for 19 yards.He was never able to get anything going, mostly because the Rams kept the ball out of his hands by possessing the ball for a little over 36 minutes.

Quarterback Dak Prescott had a good game. He was 20/32 for 266 yards, one touchdown, and NO turnovers.He was responsible for almost all of their offensive production but that was all due to the Rams plan of shutting down Zeke.Dak connected with eight different receivers, most notably was a 29 yard touchdown pass to stud receiver Amari Cooper mid-way through the first quarter.Cooper had 6 catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.Their leading receiver was rookie Michael Gallup who posted his first career 100 yard game with 6 catches for 119 yards. If he continues to improve, the Cooper/Gallup duo could become one of the better tandems in the league.

The defense went into the game knowing they were up against a big challenge in the Rams' offense.They held their own for most of the first half but ran out of gas when the Dallas offense punted three consecutive times on their last three possessions before the half. Team leading tackler Leighton Vander Esch had his worst game of the year with only four total tackles, even though three were solo.The Cowboy defense gave up over 450 yards, 273 of them were on the ground. Superstar running back Todd Gurley and veteran C.J. Anderson both had over 100 yards and scored touchdowns.

Looking back, I believe the Cowboys have a lot of positives to build on and have shown that they are a good team that can become great very quickly. Don't forget that they started off 3-5 and their season could have been over a long time ago. Instead, they rallied and made it all the way to the No. 4 seed in the NFC.They have a solid core of great young talent on both sides of the ball and have to potential to be contenders for years to come.

Possible Improvements

Offense: Elliott, Cooper, and Gallup can be great weapons for Prescott.The offensive line is one of the best in the league and the only position they need to improve on is tight end. The void that was left when Cowboy great Jason Witten retired was never filled and it showed.

Defense: Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are two young amazing linebackers that are the foundation to build around. The Cowboy D could use either a great defensive lineman and or a dominant defensive back to complement their stud linebackers. Re-signing defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is a must for the Cowboys to keep their defense in the top 10 of the NFL.

3 Things to watch for in the offseason

1.Dak Prescott (Quarterback): The Cowboys' front office needs to make a decision in whether or not he is their QB of the future. The 2019 season will be the final year of rookie current contract and his next one is looking to be a big one.It will probably be around $20 million per year.

2.Jason Garrett (Head coach): The 2019 season will also be the final year of his current contract. I think they should let him play it out and see if he can produce another great season before signing him to an extension. Dallas is almost always at a disadvantage when it comes to coaching and I believe a change is needed no matter what.

3. Earl Thomas (Free agent safety): There were rumors early this season that Thomas would like to play for the Cowboys before he was injured as a member of the Seahawks. Dallas could use this six-time Pro Bowler on back end of their defense who could be the defensive back they need to help upgrade this side of the ball.

With that being said, there are only 3 games left in the NFL season:

Sunday January 20th

NFC Championship: Rams vs Saints at 2:05 pm Central time

AFC Championship: Patriots vs Chiefs at 5:40 pm Central time

Sunday February 3rd

Super Bowl LIII (53):Kickoff is at 5:30 pm Central time

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome