Studs and duds in Cowboys’ 43-20 rout of Rams

The Dallas Cowboys came off their bye week in style with a dominating 43-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8. It didn’t take the Cowboys long to set the tone by scoring on their first three offensive possessions, while getting scores from the defense and their special teams to kickstart the blowout. The impressive all-around performance helped give the team their fifth win on the year.

In routing the Rams, the Cowboys secured their second city sweep of the season, beating both teams from Los Angeles in back-to-back games. Dallas accomplished the feat in the first two weeks of the season, beating both New York teams. Here are the studs and duds from second 40-burger for the Cowboys in the Week 8 win.

Stud: Dak Prescott

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It was Prescott’s best performance of the year, and his first 300-yard passing game in 2023. The veteran signal caller ate up the Rams’ secondary, throwing for 304 yards and four scores, while completing 80% of his passes.

Prescott was in complete control and his only blemish was an interception off a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage.

The best throw from Prescott came on the first drive. On first-and-10 from the Rams’ 18-yard line, Prescott threw a perfect strike by a defender’s ear to tight end Jake Ferguson, who reached up for the ball and came down with the touchdown. It was a play Prescott and his tight ends have missed on a few times early in the season, but Ferguson finally came down with the beautiful ball for the score.

Stud: CeeDee Lamb

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

With Prescott’s best game of the season, it’s no coincidence that Lamb had his best outing as well. Lamb caught 12 of his targets for 158 yards and two touchdowns.

Those numbers were all career-highs for Lamb.

The All-Pro receiver started the game on fire and his red-zone score came off a ridiculous move to lose the defender. Lamb later found the end zone to cap off a 100-yard, two touchdown first half.

If the Cowboys were focused on getting Lamb the ball more after the bye week, the gameplan was a rousing success against the Rams.

Duds: Pass blocking

(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

The numbers will show that Prescott was afforded the time to find open receivers, but he managed to escape some pressure and make plays on the fly with a leaking offensive line. The first drive was especially poor, giving up a sack on the first play of the game and then again on third down, but they were fortunate that a penalty negated the sack.

A second official sack came on the very next play.

Aaron Donald had two sacks in the game, and the Rams had three sacks on the first two Cowboys drives to make things dicey. If Prescott didn’t have the mobility he does things could have been worse, but the offensive line did regroup and didn’t allow a sack after the first two drives of the game.

In a game where not much went wrong, the early pass blocking left much to be desired.

Studs: DaRon Bland

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The second-year cornerback always seems to be around the ball, and he rarely misses when he has a chance to make a play. Bland led the defense in tackles, had two passes defensed and made the game-changing play late in the first quarter.

Bland picked off an errant Matthew Stafford pass and returned it 30-yards for the score. It was Bland’s third pick-six this season and it put the Cowboys up two touchdowns to make the Rams chase the scoreboard the rest of the game.

There appeared to be some QB/WR miscommunication on the play, and Bland capitalized on the mistake. Bland continues to step up in CB Trevon Diggs’ absence and makes it dangerous to throw in his direction.

Studs: Special Teams

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys hit on all cylinders in this game, scoring on offense, defense and special teams. Early in the second quarter, John Fassel’s unit made their mark on the game, and then backed it up with another big play.

Three plays into the second quarter, defensive end Sam Williams blocked a punt, which went out of bounds through the back of the end zone for a safety. The two-points provided a 16-point cushion, and it was the second game in a row against the Rams where the Cowboys blocked a punt.

Less than 17 minutes into the game and the Cowboys had scored in each phase.

On the ensuing kickoff, return man KaVontae Turpin had his best return of the season, 63-yards, to set the Cowboys up at the Rams’ 13-yard line. Two plays later, a Prescott to Lamb score gave Dallas a 26-3 lead.

Rookie kicker Brandin Aubrey also got in on the special teams fun, nailing a 58-yard field goal. The kick was his longest of the season and he remained perfect on field goal attempts through seven games.

There was almost another score, but Turpin’s 87-yard punt return was negated by a holding penalty on CB Nahshon Wright.

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire