Once the Dallas Cowboys lost quarterback Dak Prescott to a broken thumb, their defense was going to have to step up, even more, to keep them afloat. Their first task wouldn’t be an easy one with the high-powered Bengals’ that features quarterback Joe Burrow and a three-headed monster at wide receiver.
The Cowboys would dig deep down inside and rise to the occasion defensively. They only allowed 17 points, giving them back-to-back games of holding opponents under 20. Thanks to this inspired defensive effort, the Cowboys were in a position to win the game in the final seconds and did so with a 50-yard field goal from Brett Maher.
Dallas did several good things well on defense against the Bengals but two, in particular, stood out the most. Let’s dive into these specifics that got the Cowboys to 1-1 on the season.
Kept the Bengals’ offense behind the chains
The best way to slow down an explosive offense is to keep them in long yardage situations and force them to be one-dimensional. Dallas executed that to a tee on Sunday as they racked up six sacks, led by Micah Parsons and Dorance Armstrong who each had two.
Cincinnati would settle for several field goals as a result, and keep the Cowboys in the lead for most of the game despite their offense spiraling after scoring on its first two drives. If it wasn’t for this sack party by the Cowboys, a few of the Bengals’ drives could have easily produced touchdowns and made backup quarterback Cooper Rush have to sling it a lot more than the Cowboys would have liked him to do.
Excellent third-down defense
In 2021, the Cowboys were excellent on third down, only allowing conversions 34.75% of the time. Against the Bengals, the Cowboys were outstanding in that area once again, only giving up conversions on six of 17 attempts (35.3%).
Dallas has been exemplary in this department in both games so far this season as they have given up just 11 third downs on 31 tries by their opponents. Rush and the Cowboys’ offense need all the assistance they can get, and having the ball in favorable situations when it comes to field position can only help.
With Prescott out for several more weeks, the Cowboys will need to continue being good in these areas so that they can snag a few more wins and keep pace in the NFC East.
Feature image via Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports