After the first few snaps for the Cowboys’ offense, it looked like the team had come out of the bye week more rusted than rested. But after a third down Rams penalty gave Dak Prescott and company a new set of downs, and new life, he and the team made the most of it. Four of the first five Cowboys drives ended in points (and the one that didn’t was a tip-ball interception that turned the ball over to L.A. on the doorstep of the end zone).
Add in a pick-six from DaRon Bland and a blocked-punt safety, and it was a dominating 33-3 lead before the two-minute warning of the first half. It wasn’t all perfect, as Dallas let the Rams narrow the gap after the break before finally slamming the door. The 43-20 win could have actually been bigger; the Cowboys incredibly missed on multiple scoring opportunities.
The complaints are nitpicky after a 23-point win, though, and there’s plenty to celebrate before turning attention to Philadelphia. Here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of Week 8’s big win.
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Good: Dak makes it Rayne with 4 TDs, 300+ yards
Dak Prescott completed 8 of 11 passes over 10 air yards for 153 yards and 4 TD, tied for the most TD in a game this season.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 29, 2023
The talk after Week 6’s win was Prescott using his legs to win. On Sunday, it was about his arm. Prescott finished 25-of-31 passing for 304 yards — his most since Christmas Eve’s win over the Eagles — and with four touchdowns, just his eighth game ever with over three scoring tosses. His 133.7 passer rating ranks as the 11th-highest of No. 4’s pro career.
Bad: Offensive line's first two series
Two sacks for @AaronDonald97 in the first quarter 💪
— NFL (@NFL) October 29, 2023
Things got off to rough start for Dallas, with Prescott getting dropped for a five-yard loss on the very first play from scrimmage. Another sack followed on third down, but it was thankfully waved off by a Rams penalty. Next play? Prescott went down again in the arms of Aaron Donald. Donald got home once more on a third down on the Cowboys’ next drive, forcing a long field goal try. Tyron Smith’s absence was felt early, but the Cowboys’ offensive line was able to make adjustments and cap the Rams’ sack total at three after a dicey first quarter.
Ugly: Defense allowing a Rams double-dip
Rams open the 2nd half with a Stafford to Skowronek touchdown!
— NFL (@NFL) October 29, 2023
Sunday’s game was never really in jeopardy after Dallas went up 33-3 late in the second quarter, but allowing the Rams to score touchdowns on back-to-back possessions to bookend halftime is sure to be a point of emphasis for Dan Quinn’s unit this week. The Cowboys defense allowed L.A. to reach the end zone on consecutive 75-yard drives, comprising 12 and seven plays and using less than six total minutes of game clock. Thankfully, giving up 14 unanswered points didn’t cause any real damage, but the team won’t get away with that kind of porosity against some of the opponents still to come this season.
Good: CeeDee Lamb's career day
CeeDee Lamb set single-game career-highs in
T-most TDs (2)
— NFL (@NFL) October 29, 2023
The Prescott-to-CeeDee Lamb connection is quickly becoming one of the most reliable and prolific in the NFL this season. Lamb ended Week 8 with 12 catches and 158 receiving yards, both career highs. His sixth two-touchdown day tied his best pro outing, his 14 targets is just one below his single-game high, and his catch percentage of 85.7% is good enough to be a personal top-ten performance. Lamb also topped 4,000 yards for his career; at 56 games, he’s the second-fastest Cowboy to ever reach that plateau and now sits in ninth place on the franchise receiving list.
Bad: Chuma Edoga's loss
Chuma Edoga was injured and left the field pic.twitter.com/Cxn4F6J3h6
— Sports US today (@Sportsustoday) October 29, 2023
The 26-year-old lineman left Sunday’s contest early in the fourth quarter, and while the game was well in hand by the time he was carted off, the Cowboys’ overall picture at left tackle is not. Asim Richards came on in relief of Edoga (who was there as an injury replacement for Tyron Smith), but the team has to be concerned with depth at the position, especially with Philadelphia’s ferocious D-line next in line. Early belief is that Edoga suffered a low- not a high- ankle sprain, but an MRI will be key in clarifying the situation moving forward.
Ugly: Penalty wipes out Turpin's first return TD
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) October 29, 2023
KaVontae Turpin did plenty to add to the avalanche that left the Rams reeling on Sunday, but only some of it actually counted. His 63-yard kick return following a second-quarter punt-block safety set up the Cowboys offense at the L.A. 13, and a touchdown two plays later gave Dallas a 26-3 lead just 17 minutes and change into the game. But it was his fourth-quarter punt return that Turpin will remember as a missed opportunity. After taking an Ethan Evans punt back 87 yards, the speedster thought he had his first regular-season return touchdown. It was gorgeous… until it wasn’t. A holding penalty called on cornerback Nahshon Wright nullified the score and only reminded future opponents not to kick it to Turpin if they can at all avoid it.
Good: DaRon Bland sets franchise record
.@DaRon_Bland and pick-sixes just go together 🤧
The second-year cornerback nabbed his fourth interception on the season in the first quarter on Sunday. Incredibly, it was the third he’s taken all the way to the end zone for six points. That’s the most pick-sixes in a single season in Cowboys history, and it’s just one shy of tying the NFL’s all-time mark. Obviously, the most impressive part is that it took Bland just seven games to do it; he’ll have ten more outings to put his name all by itself in the record books.