They say things are more attractable to us when they come in threes.
Their third division title in the last five years. Their third playoff appearance since 2010. Their third straight home wildcard victory in AT&T stadium. More importantly, head coach Jason Garrett and his team will make their third divisional round appearance after a 24-22 thriller over the Seattle Seahawks Saturday night.
You can come up with all the stats and metrics you want, but when it comes to quarterback Dak Prescott you have to see it to believe it. This was a team desperate to rid the “2 playoff victories in the past 20 years” stigma. And they did it. Against a quarterback who had not lost in the first round of the playoffs since he came into the league. The Cowboys were the better team on the field and they asserted that notion. Here are four takeaways from the Cowboys wildcard victory.
Special teams can make this team special
Having a star on the side of your helmet doesn’t immediately make you a star, but not many people shined brighter then Tavon Austin. Austin’s five returns for 73 yards is 12 more yards then Cole Beasley managed to rack up in his 11 returns on the season. If not for a holding penalty, Austin would have had the Cowboys first punt return touchdown since week 13 of 2017.
Tavon Austin w the BIG RETURN! #CowboyNation pic.twitter.com/jA2pOLU3JY
— MavsHighlights (@MavsHighlights) January 6, 2019
This has been a dynamic the Cowboys have lacked all season and it could be enough to substitute the lack of turnovers the Cowboys defense gets. Punter Chris Jones has also been as consistent as they come. His five punts had an average of 45 yards. He has done wonders for an offense that has seen their fair share of three-and-outs.
Connor Williams was good enough
Another topic of discussion headed into this game was how rookie Connor Williams was going to hold up at left guard. Though he had his fair share of struggles, Williams did enough for Ezekiel Elliott to rack up 137 yards on 26 carries. Prescott was sacked just one time on a play in which Williams and left tackle Tyron Smith did not properly adjust to a stunt Frank Clark did to the inside of the line.
The runner matters
The number one rushing offense in the NFL, Seattle Seahawks, finished with 73 yards as a team on 24 attempts. They were averaging 160 yards on the ground coming into this game. Both teams’ front sevens were active all night, but when you have a top-3 player at his position he can usually do enough to offset his offensive line’s struggles. Many times it appeared Elliott would be stopped behind the line or stuffed for no gain, but time after time he put his head down and created his own opportunities.
🚨 STIFF ARM ALERT! 🚨 @ezekielelliott
📺: #SEAvsDAL on FOX #NFLPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/MOpyY6Uldi
— NFL (@NFL) January 6, 2019
Seattle’s top runner, Chris Carson, finished with just 20 yards on 13 carries. Both teams knew they had to key in on the opposing running game, one running back just happened to be the best player on the field.
Up-tempo offense is not just a two-minute drill option
This season, in the last two minutes of a half, Prescott has eight touchdowns, one interception and a 108. 5 quarterback rating. When Dallas is behind or tied, Prescott has seven touchdowns, one pick and a 106.3 quarterback rating. In the fourth quarter within seven points, Prescott has four touchdowns and a 105.9 QB rating. In the majority of these situations we see the Dallas employ has a faster-paced hurry-up offense. We see Prescott get out the pocket more and become a little quicker with his decision making. After the Cowboys first drive where they got 3 points, their next scoring drive came on their final possession of the second quarter. Five possessions between those scoring drives. No reason why you cannot implement that same mentality sooner to establish some sort of rhythm.
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