Cowboys 44, Rams 21

The Cowboys vs Rams: Good, bad, and ugly

Coming into Sunday's game, the Cowboys were 0-6 against teams with a winning record. By the grace of a Christmas miracle, the boys got a much needed dominant 44-21 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. This was the best offensive showcase from the Cowboys all season, and was their first big victory since they defeated the Eagles in Week 7.

The Good

- I've said it once and I'll say it again, Ezekiel Elliott has been the best player on the Cowboys this season and Sunday's performance was a return to form for the Cowboys premiere running back. He ran for two scores and after his first touchdown, he essentially put the game out of the Rams' reach. His running mate Tony Pollard had his best game as a Cowboy since his break out game against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. The duo went on to make history Sunday when both running backs ran for more than 100 yards. According to Cowboys.com, the Cowboys haven't had two 100-yard rushers in the same game since Emmitt Smith and Chris Warren 21 years ago. Now both Elliott and Pollard have done this twice in the same season. This is a franchise first. If the Cowboys continue to predicate their offense on the run game, they can compete against anyone in the league.

- Jason Witten and Sean Lee had return to form games as if they were both playing in their prime. Witten had an amazing one-handed catch for a 19 yard touchdown in the first quarter to open up the scoring. This catch was vintage Jason Witten, and showcased that he is still a reliable tight end at age 37. Lee also had his best game as a Cowboy this season. With Leighton Vander Esh being out for the fouth consecutive game, Lee has stepped up and has become one of the vocal leaders on defense along with Demarcus Lawrence and Jaylon Smith. He had a huge interception before half-time. It was his first interception since 2017. This set up an Ezekiel Elliott score and the Cowboys took a 28-7 lead. This interception proved to be a momentum killer for the Rams the rest of the game.

- Sean Lee wasn't the only Cowboys defender who had a good game. Rather the entire defense as a whole played great until the 4th quarter in garbage time. They were able to hold Todd Gurley and the Rams' offense to a putrid 22 yards total rushing yards. The Rams seemingly had no answer for the Cowboys rushing attack. Goff was continuously under pressure the defense forced him to make bad throws throughout the entire game.

-After a big victory like this, I will replace a bad note with another good note. I would like to be the first one to welcome Kai Forbath to the Dallas Cowboys. When Brett Maher was released, the boys needed a consistent kicker to fill his shoes. Enter Forbath. The journeyman kicker was released by the Patriots after their loss to the Texans, but his first game with the Cowboys was nothing short of spectacular. He made three field goals and all five of his extra point attempts. Needless to say, this is just want the Cowboys needed after letting go of Maher.

The bad

- A slow start was not what the Cowboys wanted coming into this must win game. Dak Prescott missed some throws early on including a missed opportunity with an open Amari Cooper. Luckily, Prescott and the boys were able to overcome this slow start and out up 28 points before halftime. Had Prescott been accurate to start the game, the Cowboys could have put up a 50 burger against the Rams. This is more of a nitpick, for the Cowboys seeming played a perfect game.

-Michael Bennett just cannot seem to play a game in which he doesn't get penalized. According to nflpenalties.com, this is his third consecutive game with a penalty and his 4th in his last 5 games. Bennett should clean up his penalties going forward. Again this is more me nitpicking to find something bad when the Cowboys played an amazing game.

The ugly

- The opening kickoff and what transpired afterwards was bizarre to say the least. Allegedly, Prescott said he wanted to play defense first, but used words that lead to some confusion. When asked again by the referee, Prescott said he wanted to kick and defer in the second half. It sounded as if the Cowboys wanted to kick twice once to start the game and again after halftime. It got so confusing that the league had to step in and fix it to where the Rams kicked the ball to start the second half. Prescott later said that it was a "bad use of words by me", and later joked about it in his post-game press conference. It's not every day that a kickoff is the subject of controversy.

- There really isn't much else I can say about the Cowboys from an ugly perspective. But for the Rams, my goodness what happened to the their superior offense. Todd Gurley had no answer for the Cowboys front 7 and has not looked the same since his subpar performance in the Super Bowl. He had two terrible dropped passed including one that would have been a wide open two-point conversion killing any kind of momentum the Rams where trying to build. He has had games in which he rushed for more than 100 yards this season, but those are few and far between. His days as the primer running back in football are over, and the stage has been set for Ezekiel Elliott to be the best back in the NFL.

- Jared Goff's contract appears to be the worst in the NFL, and it's not close. Both Prescott and Goff started the game cold missing wide open receivers and forcing the offenses to punt in their first couple of positions. Prescott was able to overcome this sluggish start, but Goff never looked good until garbage time. Prescott outplayed Goff after the Cowboys' initial score, and The Rams' offense could never get any kind of rhythm after the Cowboys went up 28-7 at halftime. Big contracts aren't always the answer to unproven young quarterbacks. Take the hint Jerry.

The Cowboys celebration shall be short lived, for next Sunday it's essentially the NFC East Championship Game between the boys and the Eagles. If the Cowboys win they are in the playoffs, if they lose they will have to bear the Redskins and pray that the Giants beat the Eagles. This sets up a great matchup in an otherwise underwhelming division.


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After a "qualifying round" of playoffs, the actual Stanley Cup playoffs are here. In a weird hockey world that saw two 12 seeds win in round one and the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference finish last in the round robin and get a four seed, things appear wide open. The lower seeds may actually have a bit of an advantage at the beginning of these series, as they have already gone through an actual elimination round, while the top four seeds played a less intense round robin. As teams still adjust to a long layoff, more upsets could be in order. It should be fun. Here is a look at the matchups:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Philadelphia Flyers (1) vs. Montreal Canadiens (8)

The Flyers were dominant in the round-robin phase and look very much like a team that can make a deep run. Montreal was the lowest seed in the qualifying tournament, but stunned Pittsburgh, and were the better team throughout the series. Philly, however, is playing much better hockey than their Pennsylvania counterparts. The Canadiens will need a big effort from goalie Carey Price, who is capable of stealing games. Young Flyers goalie Carter Hart was outstanding in the two round-robin games he played and is an emerging star. Philly has more talent, but a goalie like Price can win a series.

Prediction: Flyers in 5.

Tampa Bay Lightning (2) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (7)

Tampa is as talented a group as you will find in the NHL. They have depth on all lines, terrific defensemen and an elite goalie. Yet they have a checkered playoff past. Last season, they were dominant in the regular season and looked like a Cup lock. They were promptly swept out of the first round by the Jackets. Columbus outplayed a similarly talented team in Toronto in round one and are a tough matchup. Can the Lightning be struck down twice? Absolutely.

Prediction: Jackets in 7.

Washington Capitals (3) vs. New York Islanders (6)

The Caps still have Alex Ovechkin and a recent Stanley Cup, and have to be considered a contender against whoever they play. But the Isles play terrific defense, grind you down and get just enough scoring to win games. Plus they have the coach who won the Cup with the Caps, Barry Trotz, which gives them another edge. The Isles are a long shot Cup contender and could pull off the upset.

Prediction: Islanders in 7.

Boston Bruins (4) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (5)

The Bruins were the best team in the league in the regular season, but played flat in the round robin, winding up with a fourth seed. It seems a little unfair that they dominated all year but three games determined their fate, but that's life. By now they should have figured things out again and should be able to advance. They are a tricky team, because if they play as poorly as they did last week, Carolina could knock them out. But the Bruins should get better the deeper they get in the playoffs. The Hurricanes have a rising star in Andrei Svechnikov, who had a hat trick in the first round against the Rangers. The Bruins, however, are deeper, more talented and have the more tested and reliable goalie in Tukka Rask.

Prediction: Bruins in 5.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Las Vegas Golden Knights (1) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (8)

The Golden Knights were impressive in the round-robin, and looked like they did not miss a beat from the break. They were on a 8-2 run before the Rona interruption and swept the three seeding games since. But the Blackhawks are a scary matchup. They dominated Edmonton in the play-in round, winning 3-1 despite being the last team to qualify. They are young and shaky on defense, but still have proven Cup winners like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford. It would be foolish to count them out, but the Oilers were a much better matchup for the Hawks. If Crawford dominates in net, they have a fighting chance. But the Knights are on a different level right now.

Prediction: Las Vegas in 6.

Colorado Avalanche (2) vs. Arizona Coyotes (7)

This might be one of the more intriguing matchups of this round. The Avs look like a Cup contender, and Nathan MacKinnon is an MVP candidate and might be one of the most underappreciated superstars in the league. The Coyotes, however, are going to be a tough out. Goalie Darcy Kempner faced a ton of shots against the Predators and held up well. He will have to do the same here. Taylor Hall and Phil Kessel provide top end forward play, and Arizona matches up OK here. The Avs should win, but don't be shocked if they are pushed hard.

Prediction: Avs in 6.

Dallas Stars (3) vs. Calgary Flames (6)

Dallas is an interesting team. The Stars have Stanley Cup-level talent, but they struggle to score at times, which could be a problem in a seven-game series. They play strong D and have great goaltending, but have issues with quicker teams, which bodes well for Calgary. The Flames are also a bit of an enigma, but they seem built for the playoffs. They have two young American-born stars in Johnny Gaudreu and Matthew Tkachuk, solid depth up front and on the back end and can hold their own with most teams. Cam Talbot is the key, however. If he can consistently man the goal the way he did in the series win over Winnipeg, they have a big shot. He finished off the series with a 31-save shutout.

Prediction: Flames in 7.

St. Louis Blues (4) vs. Vancouver Canucks (5)

The defending champs were not very good in the round-robin, hence the four seed. But it will probably work out; the Canucks are an easier matchup than what they would have faced with Calgary as a 3 seed. Vancouver is an interesting young team. Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser are two up and coming stars, but the rest of the lineup is bolstered by gritty vets. Defensemen Quinn Hughes is another young star in the making. Goalie Jacob Markstrom was solid against Minnesota, but he will need to be better in this round. The Canucks could have made a run against Dallas, but hard to see them beating the champs.

Prediction: Blues in 6.

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