THE COWBOYS REPORT

Dallas put the “D” in defense in win over Giants; Seahawks next

Zeke Elliot and the Cowboys got a nice win. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys (1-1) beat their division rival the New York Giants by the score of 20-13 on Sunday night.  The final score might make it seem like it was a close game, but it was not. The Cowboy defense DOMINATED the Giants.  

Quarterback Dak Prescott got the team started off right with a 64 yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin on the third play of the game.  With the defense keying on Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, Prescott faked a handoff to him and hit Austin right in stride on a fly pattern down the left sideline.  Once they took that early lead, the Cowboys leaned on Elliott and played stout defense to lock up their first win of the year.

Prescott finished the game 16 of 25 for 160 yards one touchdown and NO turnovers.  He also kept the team moving by rushing seven times for 45 yards to go along with Elliott’s 17 carries for 78 yards and a 4.6 average per carry.  Elliott put the game away with 5:45 left in the fourth quarter when he ran up the middle for a 6 yard touchdown and a 20-3 lead.  The Cowboys had a great game plan and kept a good balance between run and pass plays.  

I am not sure what changed this week but the Cowboy offensive line played exceptionally well.  They opened up holes for Elliott to run through and did not allow the Giant defense record any sacks.  One small issue that could become a big problem later is, even without any pressure Prescott rarely had any open receivers.  Austin was their leading receiver and he only caught one other ball after the long TD. Free agent acquisition Allen Hurns had one catch for 9 yards and the tight ends were nowhere to be found.

The main reason for the victory was the Dallas defense was on top of their game.  They held rookie sensation Saquon Barkely to 28 yards rushing on 11 carries and held All Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to 4 catches for 51 yards on 9 targets.  The front seven were swarming all night and sacked Giant quarterback Eli Manning six times and caused one fumble, which led to a third quarter field goal.  The first score they allowed was a field goal late in the thirrd quarter before the game was out of reach and the only touchdown they allowed was late in the fourth quarter in garbage time.  

3 Players to Watch

  1. Tavon Austin (Wide Receiver), with only 2 catches on the season he is already the second leading receiver on the team with 79 yards.  The 5’8 veteran has great speed and can be used in the backfield as a running back sometimes.  Hopefully the coaching staff can figure out some more ways to get him in big play making positions down the field.

  2. DeMarcus Lawrence (Defensive End), this 6’3 lineman is probably the Cowboys best player on defense and is proving it too.  He has two sacks and three tackles for loss already this season. He will be an interesting watch as they will be going against four-time Pro Bowl QB Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks.  

  3. Sean Lee (Linebacker), Is the heart and soul of this team.  When he plays the Cowboys tend to give up 10 points less than if he doesn’t play.  He injured his hamstring late in the game versus the Giants but will need to be on the field to keep Wilson in check on Sunday.

Coming Up

Sunday afternoon the Cowboys (1-1) will be in the Emerald City of Seattle, Washington to take on the Seahawks (0-2) at 3:25 pm Central time.  Both teams are very similar in the sense that they both don’t have any stellar pass catchers on the offensive side of the ball and rely on their average defenses to keep them in games.

The Cowboys are going to need their offensive line to play the same as last week and keep opening up holes for Elliott to run through.  If that happens, hopefully somebody like Austin or maybe even Hurns can make a big catch down field to help keep the defense honest. On the defensive side, they are going to need to keep Super Bowl winning QB Russell Wilson from beating them because that is pretty much the only offense Seattle has.  This could be a problem because he can beat them with his legs just as easily as he can with his arm. If you can remember Cam Newton beat Dallas basically by himself in Week 1. All in all, it should be one of the better games on Sunday afternoon and I can’t wait to watch.

If you have any fantasy players, the only must start players are Elliott and Wilson.  Both kickers might not be bad plays either.

For you gamblers out there, the current line is Dallas +1.5.  With Seattle being 0-2 and this game pretty much being a must win, I would take Seattle at any number less than 3.



 

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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