Cowboys Players of the Game: Zeke and LVE

–Nathan Jones–

What a win!

The Dallas  Cowboys managed to end their two-game skid and defeat the Philadelphia Eagles in a must-win game. The defense returned to top form, only allowing 20 points, forcing one interception, and two sacks. In the best “team-win” of the season, players on all sides of the ball showed up. But the two players that stood out of the rest were Leighton Vander Esch and Ezekiel Elliott.

Leighton Vander Esch, or LVE, recorded 13 solo tackles and his first career interception. With the absence of Sean Lee, both Jaylon Smith and LVE further built their case as being the future at the linebacker core. Besides grabbing the drive-ending interception,  Vander Esch destroyed a screen play on third down, late in the fourth quarter:

Getting closer to pro-bowl votes and rookie of the year consideration, Leighton Vander Esch’s performance did nothing, but bolster his chances.

Now to the offense–

The Cowboys have struggled to run the ball as of late. And with the rookie starting left guard missing the game due to injury, no one could have predicted such a strong performance on the ground.

Ezekiel Elliott returned to form, running against the second-best run defense in the league. He gathered 159 rushing yards on 19 attempts (7.9 YPC) and six catches for 36 yards. Towards the end of the game, Elliott could not be stopped. He was creating 5+ yard runs with ease. He put the ball in the end-zone twice (one rushing and one receiving).

Honorable mention: Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott played rather well. He threw for 270 yards on 36 attempts and added a rushing touchdown and a touchdown pass to Ezekiel Elliott. Dak Prescott was not perfect. He had his ups and downs throughout the game. However, Dak did not make the crucial mistake. Dak was able to stand strong in the pocket and deliver strikes on third down. Prescott’s rapport with Amari Cooper continues to grow. Amari Cooper was targeted nine times and brought in six catches for 75 yards. Cooper has become a centerpiece of Dallas’ offense.

Overall, the defense and offense played their best complementary football of the year. With all the scrutiny during the week, Scott Linehan and Jason Garret deserve praise for scheming a great game. They got the ball in the hands of their playmakers: Zeke, Cooper, and Beasley all got a good amount of touches.  Garrett and Linehan saved themselves for another week, but they must continue to coach as if their jobs are on the line.

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