Don’t let the opponent deceive you, it’s very difficult to win in the NFL, let alone win by 25 points. There are certainly things for the Dallas Cowboys to clean up from their victory over the Miami Dolphins, but again, they won by 25 points. If that’s the Dallas Cowboys winning ugly, I’ll take it every week.
They’ll have a much tougher test this week when they face the New Orleans Saints, but before we get to that let’s take a look at the Dallas Cowboys 3 Stars of the Game.
First ✭ Robert Quinn
In his first game back from suspension, Robert Quinn pretty much set up shop in the Miami Dolphins backfield. He was relentless all game, consistently winning off the edge to create pressure on Dolphins’ Quarterback Josh Rosen. Per Pro Football Focus, Robert Quinn had five total pressures (1 sack and 4 hurries).
On the day Quinn finished with a sack and a tackle for loss, but his game was way more effective than that line. His ability to create constant pressure made life uncomfortable for Rosen who completed less than 50% of his passes in his first start for Miami.
After displaying a somewhat underwhelming pass rush the first two weeks of the season, Quinn’s presence gave the Cowboys a boost on the defensive line. His ability opened up opportunities for Christian Covington and DeMarcus Lawrence.
Now the Dolphins don’t have the best offensive line in the NFL and had allowed Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick to be sacked a combined 10 times, but it was a great first game for a player who hadn’t played or practiced since the end of the preseason.
Second ✭ Amari Cooper
Despite a drop from Amari Cooper, he was absolutely filthy on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Facing the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL, Xavien Howard, Cooper was creating separation at will and making plays in the red zone. Dak Prescott had a perfect passer rating when targeting Amari Cooper on Sunday on his seven targets.
Cooper finished with six catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns for the game, continuing to show he’s one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Now with the Dallas Cowboys for 12 games, Amari Cooper has caught 69 passes for 963 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Over 16 games, those stats would project to 92 receptions for 1,284 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Even without Michael Gallup in the lineup to take the pressure off of Cooper, he still dominated the Dolphins.
Third ✭ Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard
The Dallas Cowboys rushing attack has found lightning in Tony Pollard to go with the thunder that Ezekiel Elliott brings to the table. They’ve found a player in Pollard who can actually make plays when given the opportunity. No disrespect to Rod Smith, but when he was in the game the last couple of years, you just knew that there wasn’t going to be much production out of the running back position.
Ezekiel Elliott led the way to one of the quietest 100-yard games of his career. Elliott carried the ball 19 times for 125 yards and caught two passes for 14 yards against the Miami Dolphins. Elliott’s last carry of the game came at 8:42 of the fourth quarter when the game was pretty much over.
Tony Pollard’s ability to come in and spell Elliott and be a productive member of the offense makes him an invaluable member of the team. No longer are the Cowboys going to have to worry about Ezekiel Elliott’s workload. It’s going to be a rarity moving forward for Elliott to get 30 touches a game, and that’s a good thing.
Pollard finished with 13 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown. Both the 100-yard game and the touchdown were the first of his young career. He added three receptions for 25 yards, including one on an RPO swing pass where he had to fight through some tacklers to pick up the first down. Pollard continues to show really good vision, balance, patience, and acceleration as a runner.
Just three games into the season, Pollard’s proved to be the best draft pick from the 2019 class. The ability of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff to increasingly rely on Pollard to help carry the load is just another way that the offense can have defenses on their toes.
Because Pollard has been so effective, it’s going to keep Ezekiel Elliott fresh in-game and throughout the season. And Elliott for one thinks that’s a great thing.
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The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of star power on this year’s squad and each week a different player is standing out to make a difference. They have a plethora of playmakers on both sides of the ball, and while the win wasn’t the prettiest, it was a huge win against a team that they should have beaten like this.
The Dallas Cowboys are showing that they can win big even when they don’t play their best. They’re a team that will be in contention throughout the year and will be a problem in the NFC.