The Dallas Cowboys move to .500 (5-5) on the season after a roller coaster fourth-quarter performance from kicker Brett Maher. If the Cowboys somehow found a way to lose this game it would be a definite Maher would have been at the forefront, along with the head coach and offensive coordinator of course, of criticism from reporters and fans everywhere. Fortunately, fans can set their heated critiques aside for a couple more days until Washington comes to Dallas for a Thanksgiving showdown. Even in light of the Cowboys win there is still quite a bit to be discouraged about. Here are 4 takeaways from the Cowboys week 11 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
Leighton Vander Esch is a star
Can anyone even give enough praise to how well Vander Esch has stepped in for Sean Lee? LVE finished second on the team in tackles (8), first in pass deflections (3) and tallied his second career interception. Outside the box score, Vander Esch was seemingly involved in every play and looked, at times, as the best player on the Cowboys defense. The rookie out of Boise State has continued to establish himself as a reliable force that the defense can get behind for years to come.
2016 was a long time ago
The story line coming into this game was how the 2017 match up between the Cowboys and Falcons had begun the downward spiral of Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense. Maybe Dak had left his 2016 self in Atlanta and this was the game where he was coming to get it back. Nope. The offense struggled to put points on the board against a defense who was allowing nearly 30 points/game. Each game puts distance between this current team and the magical year that 2016 team enjoyed. And with every disappointing offensive game, it serves as a reminder of how this league evolves. With that evolution, the Cowboys are stuck on the perception of “we’ve seen it work before.” 2014 Tony Romo isn’t here and neither is 2016 Prescott. As long as things remain the same then we can expect more games this season being placed on the leg of Brett Maher.
Money doesn’t grow on trees
A month ago fans tagged Brett Maher as “Money Maher” while he was in the midst of his hot streak. As Dan Bailey continued to miss kicks in Minnesota Maher seemed to prove the Cowboys made the correct decision. From one proclaimed “money kicker” to the next, Maher is in a slump of his own. He has missed at least one kick or PAT in four straight games leaving fans to wonder how much trust should be placed in him. When Bailey lined up for a kick it was usually a time you get up to go to the restroom or grab yourself a snack. Maher was like that at one point but has now added a little suspense to every kick attempt.
Cowboys control their own destiny
This one goes outside the game that was played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Redskins most likely lost Alex Smith for the year. The Eagles continue to spiral towards the bottom. And though the Giants won they still have a lot of work to do before they even consider playoffs a realistic option. Having just lost their quarterback, the Redskins have just three days to prepare their backup for their Thanksgiving game against the Cowboys. If things play out like they should the Cowboys could be tied for 1st place in the division before the week is even over.
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