In a game that saw the first 14-11 half in NFL history, Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein’s 56-yard field goal gave Dallas a 20-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Dallas used a fast start including the first opening-drive touchdown in 21 games jumping out to a 14-3 first-quarter lead. The Chargers railed scoring 11 straight points before Tristian Vizcaino’s 29-yard field goal gave them the lead with 3:58 left. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott orchestrated a last-second drive setting up Zuerline for the game-winning kick. Here are the four biggest takeaways from today’s win.
Ground and Pound
After a poor rushing performance last year the Cowboys did a much better job winning upfront opening holes for an average of 6.4 yards per carry. On the day they finished with 198 yards on 31 carries led by running back Tony Pollard who went for 109 yards and a score on 13 carries. Fellow back Ezekiel Eillott added 71 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. The run game helped the passing game and provided the balance that Dallas loves so much. This is a trend that needs to continue moving forward.
On the Lamb
Second-year receiver CeeDee Lamb led a shorthanded receiving corps hauling in eight catches for 81 yards on nine targets. With starter Michael Gallup on injured reserve and Amari Cooper facing double teams, Lamb became the go too for Prescott and moved the changes several times. Performances like this are needed moving forward.
Say what you will about Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throwing for 338 yards, a shorthanded Cowboys defense down both starting ends notched two sacks, and picked him off twice. Corner Trevon Diggs and Damontae Kazee each had an interception with Kazee’s coming in the end zone costing the Chargers at least a field goal attempt. Making the move to end rookie linebacker Micah Parsons proved a quick study notching a sack alongside linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. Maybe even more impressive the unit held the Chargers to just 95 yards rushing. While this is only one game the improvements from week one to week two are promising and can be built off of moving forward.
For a usually high octane, Cowboys offense not scoring a single point for two straight quarters isn’t normal. A combination of penalties, miscommunications, and pressure resulted in promising drives ending in punts. Moving forward Dallas has to find a way to consistently sustain drives and not put so much pressure on a shorthanded defensive unit.