The Denver Broncos used a strong defensive and rushing outing ending the Dallas Cowboys six-game winning streak with a 30-16 win. Denver held Dallas to 290 yards and 14 first downs while limiting quarterback Dak Prescott to less than 100 yards passing through three quarters. Offensively Denver ran for 192 yards led by rookie running back Javontae Williams who had 111 yards on 17 carries. Facing their first home shutout at AT&T Stadium, Prescott found reserve receiver Malik Turner for a pair of fourth-quarter scores. Below are the four biggest takeaways from today’s game.
For a unit that has been one of the best in the league, they reminded many of the woeful units from last season. Outside of the first two drives, they failed to tackle consistently letting Denver running backs break multiple tackles. Once again, the star of the game was rookie end/linebacker Micah Parsons who notched 10 tackles, three for loss, and 2.5 sacks. Fellow rookie tackle Osa Odighizuwa lived in the backfield but got little help from the rest. Another concern was the play of corner Trevon Diggs and end Randy Gregory. Diggs was beaten several times by multiple receivers while Gregory was dominated in the run game. Improvements are needed moving forward.
Lack of Offense
In a sign of things to come, the Cowboys’ offense turned the ball over on downs the first two drives of the game. The offensive line failed to consistently open holes for the ground game and keep Prescott clean. What also didn’t help Prescott was his receivers, who either failed to get open or dropped catchable balls. On the day, the unit finished with just 57 plays, by far the fewest of the season. Star running back Ezekiel Elliot left the game worse than he started injuring his ankle, rushing for just 51 yards on 10 carries. Out wide, tight end Dalton Schultz led the way with four catches for 54 yards. Through the air, Prescott was 19-of-39 for 232 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Moving forward, the rest of the unit needs to help Prescott, who did everything he could to keep drives alive.
Turner, a reserve receiver and special teamer by far had the best game of his career. The fourth-year man out of Illinois blocked a punt and scored both Dallas touchdowns finishing with five catches for 33 yards. While he probably won’t crack the rotation any time soon, it’s good to know that he can step up when needed and make the most of his opportunity today.
For the first time since week one, the Cowboys have tasted defeat. Now comes the tough part of putting it behind them and moving forward. It’s easy when things are working, so next week against the Atlanta Falcons will show a lot about this team. A strong outing culminating in a win would be huge, but a consecutive poor showing with similar mistakes might spell trouble on the horizon.