What We Saw: Week 5

The What We Saw team recaps everything you missed from Sunday's games

Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Rams

Final Score: Cowboys 22, Rams 10

Writer: Michael James (@MikeoftheFF on Twitter)


The Dallas Cowboys take to the road to visit SoFi Stadium and the Los Angeles Rams in Inglewood, CA.  You couldn’t blame a blind person for not knowing who the home team was given just how loud the Cowboys fans were so far away from Arlington.  The Rams opened up with two short passes to Cooper Kupp to make a third in short only for disaster to strike Matthew Stafford as he was sacked by Dorance Armstrong and fumbled the ball into DeMarcus Lawrence‘s hands who returned it to the end zone to put the Cowboys up six to start the game.  The Rams tried again converting two first downs on the subsequent drive, only to punt the ball into Armstrong’s hands as he blocked the kick allowing the Cowboys to start their first drive of the game in the red zone.  A three-and-out brought up Brett Maher to kick the FG after having the earlier extra point fail based on bad communication between the substitute long snapper and the holder for the Cowboys.  The attempt was botched so bad a kick wasn’t even attempted.  However, the field goal was executed much smoother, allowing the Cowboys to go up 9-0 with just under 9 minutes left in the first half.





The Rams answered back with a 54-yard bomb to Tutu Atwell to set up a short field goal to cut into the lead.  Both offenses stagnated, trading a couple of punts trying to find their rhythm before Stafford found Kupp making a one-handed catch on a short crossing pass, and ran it all the way down the field for 75 yards to the end zone as the Rams took the lead 10-9.  Dallas would not be outdone after that using a CeeDee Lamb 16-yard catch and run to set Tony Pollard to bust a 57-yard run up the middle breaking multiple tackles to take it to the house to re-take the lead.  Before the half, the Rams converted a fake punt to breathe life into the drive only for the Cowboys to hold the line and force another punt to protect their lead heading into the half, Cowboys up 16-10.



We got a scoreboard adjustment on the opening drive of the second half.  Despite Jalen Ramsey‘s blindside introduction to Cooper Rush setting the Cowboys back in yardage, they marched down for another field goal to add to their lead.  The Rams looked to answer back, taking a bad punt to start their drive in Cowboys territory.  They opened up with a Cooper Kupp trick pass deep to Cam Akers but was woefully short.  After a penalty followed by a Micah Parsons sack, Matt Gay attempted a 51-yarder but pushed it wide.   The Cowboys decided to keep it on the ground rushing it seven times in a row between Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott before the Rams adjusted to stop it.  By that time, however, it was too late.  The clock had been milked and Dallas was well within Maher’s range further increasing the Cowboys’ lead by three.

Stafford looked to Darrell Henderson and Kupp to take back-to-back passes on top of a questionable roughing the passer penalty deep into Cowboys’ territory.  However, the Rams took an offensive penalty, which backed them up.  Which meant Stafford needed to get downfield.  Which also means he needed time.  Which he hadn’t had all day, and this would be no different.  Dallas would swarm, sending Stafford right into the arms of Osa Odighizuwa for the fourth sack on the day.  Facing third and thirteen, with three Cowboys chasing him to the sideline, Stafford hooked up with Malik Hooker near the end zone.  Sadly for Rams’ fans, Hooker plays for Dallas, and the drive ended on an interception.  The Rams would get one more shot, but it would not fare any better with the drive ending in another Parsons sack-fumble recovered by Dallas.  Parsons was seen limping throughout the second half on the sidelines but finished the game.



This game was truly a battle of two great defenses and two struggling offenses.  As Greg Olsen alluded to, there’s a few breakout plays and a whole lot of nothing in between.  The Rams move to 2-3 on the year and Dallas(4-1) is now 4-0 with Cooper “Rush Hour” (No, I’m not letting it go)




Dallas Cowboys




Cooper Rush: 10/16, 102 Yards | 4 Carries, -1 Yard, 1 Fumble (Recovered)


All Cooper Rush does is win football games.  This was pure game management.  The offense was not spectacular looking, when you are gifted the ball at the start of the game in the opponent’s 20-yard line and proceed to 3 and out to a field goal, it’s just not encouraging.  Fortunately Rush didn’t need to be exciting, the defense took care of that.  Rush went only one for two on deep balls and had 10 completions total.  Most passes moved the chains and extended drives.  He was under pressure quite a bit, including three sacks and one of those by Aaron Donald (of which he was held – penalty declined) resulting in a fumble recovered by his own lineman.  Fun fact, another one of those sacks was Jalen Ramsey‘s first sack of his entire career.  Only 100 yards on the day, there’s just not a lot to write about here.  Aside from being undefeated as an NFL starter for five games.




Running Back


Ezekiel Elliott: 22 Carries, 78 Yards
Tony Pollard: 8 Carries, 86 Yards, TD


Kevin Burkhardt asked Greg Olsen, “They’re averaging over 6 yards per carry, why stop running the ball?”  Heading into this game the Rams had the 7th-ranked rush defense on yards allowed, this was expected to be an uphill battle.  Ezekiel Elliott was used to bruise his way to first downs to keep the clock moving, Tony Pollard was used as the change-up to hit the holes faster rather than harder.  It worked, with Pollard finding pay dirt on a 57-yard run from a big hole opening up for him to speed through and proceed to break multiple tackles.  30 rush attempts were the most these two have combined for this season, and they were used to great success including a drive where they ran it seven times in a row, prompting the question that was quoted.  It does look like when the game is stable and the Cowboys want to run out the clock, Elliott is the main source with Pollard being the backup.  Interestingly enough, there were multiple sets run today with both Elliot and Pollard in at the same time, including a couple of runs where Elliott lined up as the fullback in the I-formation.  But for now, Pollard continues to be the DeSean Jackson of running backs.



Wide Receiver/Tight End


CeeDee Lamb: 8 Targets, 5 Receptions, 53 Yards
Michael Gallup: 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 44 Yards
Noah Brown: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 5 Yards


This is about as good as it gets with only 10 completions.  Much to fantasy managers’ dismay, the Cowboys just wanted to run out the clock.  Of Rush’s two deep attempts, one of them was caught by Michael Gallup with some good-looking footwork on the sideline to bring down the catch for the first down.  CeeDee Lamb had some tough catches over the middle of the field but also had a first-down drop that just simply hit his hands and he didn’t hold on.

Dalton Schultz saw his only target in the first quarter and subsequently left after aggravating his knee injury.  He would return in the second half but would remain absent from the stat sheet.  This isn’t a fantasy stat, but the Cowboys managed to cut back on penalties so there were not a ton of X and long downs where the Cowboys weren’t already in the lead just trying to run the clock, which had a big impact on wide receivers in the second half.



Los Angeles Rams




Matthew Stafford: 28/42, 308 Yards, TD, INT, 2 Fumbles (2 Lost)
Riley Dixon: 1/1, 12 Yards


Just to get this out of the way, the second person listed is the punter, who successfully pulled off the fake punt to pull off the first down.  The Rams were without 3 starters on the line which was going to indicate a long day for Matthew Stafford.  He went one for six on deep throws, with one of them resulting in an interception.  Most of his attempts were just off target being underthrown/overthrown as he was feeling pressure all game long.  He got sacked five times and was hit 11 times throughout the game from the pass rush of Dallas.  Most of the day was spent throwing underneath passes to get the ball out quickly and past the Cowboys’ front line.  Stafford ended the first half with 199 of his 308 yards in passing, as it looked like in the second half the offensive line was struggling to contain the pressure the longer the game went on.  While Stafford did throw for over 300 yards, he is also now on a streak having thrown an interception and lost a fumble in back-to-back games.




Running Back


Cam Akers: 13 Carries, 33 Yards | 1 Target
Darrell Henderson Jr.: 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 30 Yards


Well, this is convenient. Some clearly defined roles for a change.  Cam Akers got all of the rushes and Darrell Henderson Jr got all of the passing work.  Akers did have one target,  it was a deep throw woefully underthrown by Kupp on a trick play.  Henderson had a rush but it was taken back by a holding penalty on his teammate.  The positive, Akers was fed early and often in the first half.  The negative, they abandoned the run in the second half with Akers only having two rushes of his 13.  Of Akers’ 33 yards, 13 of them came on one play.  The Cowboys were just suffocating on defense, and there was not a lot to write about here as a result.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Cooper Kupp: 10 Targets, 7 Receptions, 125 Yards, TD | 1 Carry, 4 Yards
Tyler Higbee: 10 Targets, 7 Receptions, 46 Yards
Allen Robinson II: 5 Targets, 3 Receptions, 12 Yards
Ben Skowronek: 8 Targets, 6 Receptions, 41 Yards
Tutu Atwell: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 54 Yards
Jake Gervase: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 12 Yards
Brandon Powell: 1 Carry, 1 Yard


Even when the offense isn’t doing well, Cooper Kupp is always doing well.  The highlight of the day for the offense was Kupp’s insane one-handed grab on a short pass he would take 75 yards to the house putting massive YAC numbers.   The other 50 yards he had came on 6 receptions and he continued his season dominance at the wide receiver position.  Allen Robinson II got an end zone target on third down but did not beat his man and it fell incomplete.  Something positive of note, Robinson beat his man deep but was badly overthrown by Stafford.

Tyler Higbee seemed to be Stafford’s go-to when needing quick yards and feeling the heat.  Higbee was targeted for several first-down situations and was about to make 3 of them for first downs.  Also getting his number called a lot was Ben Skowronek, spell-check’s favorite last name.  I’m not sure if this is the result of a lack of production from Robinson, but the WR3 for the Rams was targeted 8 times, 6 of them on the outside, none of them deep.  Tutu Atwell was an interesting name, both of his targets were long deep throws, one of them hitting the mark and the other one off target and not close.  It was clear the theme of the day was Stafford not having enough time in the pocket to progress through his reads, and having to get the ball out fast with defenders in his face the entire day.


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