What We Saw: Week 6

Jaylen Waddle feasted and Jonathan Taylor beasted

Cowboys @ Patriots

Final Score: Cowboys 35, Patriots 29 (OT)

Writer: Chris Sanzo (@Doombot12_FF on Twitter)

 

In a game that was certainly over at least 3 times, you could not have had a more fitting ending to this game. The Cowboys ran a play-action bootleg (unofficially) three times in the last two drives. The first resulted in a first down to Dalton Schultz, the next was the game-winning pass from Dak Prescott to CeeDee Lamb, the two biggest playmakers of the game.

The defenses stepped up big. Dallas created two big turnovers, scoring once late on a Trevon Diggs interception (of course) and a sack/fumble stopping a drive deep in Dallas’ zone. New England came up with a fourth-down stop early, setting up their first touchdown, and had two goal-line stops, working in an interception in the end zone. An equally large role would be played by the officials. Both teams had a touchdown taken off the board in this game only to then turn the ball over later in the drive. Dallas was more impressive in getting hamstrung, outpacing the Pats 12 to 5 in yellow flag collecting. It was a hard-fought game but a well-earned victory for the Cowboys over the Patriots, 35-29 in overtime.

 

 

Dallas Cowboys

 

Quarterback

 

Dak Prescott: 36/51, 445 yards, 3 TD, INT | 3 carries, 10 yards

 

The 445 yards are the most ever against a Belichick-coached team. And he could have had about 100 more if not for penalties. Dak Prescott actually left a lot out there as well. He did not see the second level very well at times, missing big throw opportunities and instead, completed what felt like every second down, in the flat. 12 of his 51 targets were to backs and was usually after a first down run. As such, the Cowboys’ offense was very predictable in this game, easily Kellen Moore’s worst game as a play-caller. Dak also had a TD run that was never reviewed, the refs were given the time to look as the Patriots helped them by calling timeout, but the refs simply chose to never bother. He fumbled going into the endzone on the next play.

 

 

On their third drive, Dak hit Cedrick Wilson on the Patriots’ six-yard line, a gain of 44 yards, just to have it called back. That drive would end with an INT. The bad news is that it is being reported he suffered a calf strain on the last play of the game, a TD to Ceedee Lamb. No more information is available yet, but Dak explained it as, “… a little pain. Didn’t like what I felt. I could’ve kept playing if I had to. I’ll be fine.”

 

 

Running Backs

 

Ezekiel Elliott: 17 carries, 69 yards | 9 targets, 7 receptions, 50 yards

Tony Pollard: 10 carry, 41 yards | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 22 yards

 

Neither Ezekiel Elliott nor Tony Pollard were especially useful against the Patriots. This was a classic scenario where Bill takes away your normal game plan and forces you to beat them with a reactionary offense. The first down runs were ineffective, often leaving long second downs that would take them out of further run scenarios. There was very little motion in front of them and the entire scheme was largely predictable. Zeke may be running better than he has in quite some time, but if the defense knows what you’re going to run at them, it doesn’t really matter. Pollard was regularly met in the backfield and got what seemed like all of his yardage after first contact.

On the first drive of the game, the Cowboys turned it over on downs on their own 34-yard line. They had a third and one and decided to run up the middle. They were stopped. They decided to gamble and went for it. They were stopped on yet another Zeke run up the middle. They would convert more of these situations later, once on a cutback by Zeke that nearly resulted in another turnover, and a first down carry by Ceedee Lamb. Credit the Patriots defense for coming up big despite being vulnerable against the run this year.

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

CeeDee Lamb: 11 targets, 9 receptions, 149 yards, 2 TD | 1 carry, 2 yards

Amari Cooper: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 55 yards

Cedrick Wilson: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 42 yards

Noah Brown: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 47 yards

Malik Turner: 1 target

Dalton Schultz:  6 targets, 5 receptions, 79 yards

Blake Jarwin: 2 targets, 1 reception, 1 yard, TD

 

CeeDee Lamb was all over the place. It took them a while to get moving, but when they did, it was because of a big play to Lamb. Every reception he had was for a first down or touchdown. His separation was elite. Even on a one-yard route to the back of the endzone, he had his man beat by almost three yards. Dak hesitated and missed opportunities to him downfield, so his big day, still had room to grow.

 

 

Amari Cooper didn’t seem to show any sign of slowing down and was second in targets to Lamb. There was a heavier usage for Cedrick Wilson today and that could be to spell Amari a bit, but this could be just missing Michael Gallup. Wilson had a deep target taken off the board due to penalty, a 44-yard pass to the Patriots’ six-yard line, but was also trusted with a fourth down pass on the drive that tied the game. He also had a touchdown reception ripped away from him in the end zone on a great play by corner Jonathan Jones. Schultz continued to show how dependable he has become, providing the highlight catch of the day, and even on the Jarwin touchdown drive, Schultz did the majority of the work.

 

 

New England Patriots

 

Quarterback

 

Mac Jones: 15/21, 229 yards, 2 TD, INT | 2 carries, -4 yard

 

Mac was never asked to do too much. Bill has a great grasp on the development of the rookie and Mac Jones is making it easy on him. Lots of quick, low pressure throws mixed in with the occasional intermediate to deep attempt. He throws a tight pass into the intermediary levels, but he doesn’t have great arm strength. His passes, even when they need to be delivered quickly, have a decent arch to them. It’s also very noticeable how he is able to keep such an even composure in high leverage spots. His late TD to Kendrick Bourne was a well-thrown ball that benefitted from a defensive miscue, but it was placed perfectly, and with the most speed he had been capable of all day. Bill has found another QB that doesn’t shy away at clutch times.

 

 

Running Backs

 

Damien Harris: 18 carries, 101 yards, TD | 1 target, 1 reception, 7 yards

Rhamondre Stevenson: 5 carries, 23 yards, TD | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 39 yards

Brandon Bolden: 1 carry, -1 yard | 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards

 

Damien Harris was a weapon today. Regardless of formation or down and distance, Harris was picking up yards. His touchdown was once again taking the direct snap out of the shotgun, a seemingly reliable short distance play for them. He was shedding or carrying tacklers on every down, a far cry from the reign of Sony Michel who found it challenging to stay upright against a stiff breeze.

Rhamondre Stevenson ran confidently today and was efficient with his touches. He scored despite only seeing 5 touches and showed good vision on the goal line. His work in the passing game was encouraging, but he missed an assignment in pass protection that ended up with Mac on the ground. His route running in the seam is something the Patriots should look to exploit if they run more 21 personnel. Brandon Bolden was mostly invisible as Rhamondre picked up almost all the backup work.

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Kendrick Bourne: 2 targets, 1 reception, 75 yards, TD

Jakobi Meyers: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 44 yards

Nelson Agholor: 3 targets, 1 reception, 27 yards | 1 carry, 1 yard

Hunter Henry: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 25 yards, TD

Jonnu Smith: 2 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards

 

Trevon Diggs, a leading candidate for DPoY, scored on an INT he returned for a TD.

 

 

It seemed the game was close to being over. Then, on the very next offensive play, Kendrick Bourne absolutely took Trevon Diggs to school on his only reception, a 75-yard touchdown. It was mostly caused by the FS trying to jump the play for a game-winning INT, but the gamble was a huge failure as Diggs was only supposed to have him underneath and Bourne was able to walk it to the house.

Meyers was solid as always but is apparently cursed. He finally had his first career touchdown… until he didn’t. A holding call would take back the touchdown and Jones would fumble on the next play.

 

 

Nelson Agholor channeled Philadelphia Agholor, adding a big catch and of course, a drop. Neither Hunter Henry nor Jonnu Smith were very involved in the game plan which is a bit counterintuitive as Dallas is much weaker against 12 personnel. Henry did catch a touchdown, and boy was it not very pretty, but even an ugly touchdown is six points.

 

 

Chris Sanzo (@Doombot12_FF on Twitter)

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