The Cowboys have had almost as many holding calls as they had all of last season. But unlike last season, they have overcome them.
The Cowboys’ current starting offensive line combined for nine holding calls as a unit last season. They have eight this season. Fifteen of the team’s 66 penalties are holds, slightly over the NFL average of 14.47 holds per team.
“Tyron [Smith’s] call [against the Ravens], I don’t think it was holding,” center Travis Frederick said. “But it’s something that comes up in the game, and if the ref sees it that way, he sees it that way. It happens. So you have to be able to overcome those situations you put yourself in and oftentimes that’s making the chunks. Getting half back on the next play and then being able to execute on third down. That’s kind of what you’re trying to do. It’s great we have the people on our offense to be able to make those plays and kind of help overcome the situations we sometimes put ourselves in because of the offensive line or whatever.”
Against the Steelers, the Cowboys scored a touchdown after Smith had a false start and Zack Martin a hold to put Dallas in a first-and-25 hole; they got a field goal on a drive Doug Free had his hold; they scored a touchdown despite Ron Leary’s hold.
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Against the Ravens, the Cowboys overcame a first-and-30 after an illegal block by Frederick and Smith’s hold. They got 12 yards on a Dak Prescott scramble on first down and 12 yards on a pass to Dez Bryant on second, which put the Cowboys in a manageable third-and-6. Prescott found Brice Butler for a 41-yard completion, and ended up scoring a touchdown on the drive.
“We all tell ourselves, ‘Let’s just get some of this back. Let’s just chip away at this. Let’s give ourselves the best chance,’” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “Oftentimes in those situations they play a little softer on defense, and you get the opportunity to kind of chip away at it. We made two big plays and got to a 3rd-and-manageable. The execution and decision-making by Dak was outstanding, and guys made plays around him.”
The Cowboys rank third in the NFL in third-down conversions, converting 48.4 percent (60 of 124). Only the Saints (50.4) and Patriots (48.5) are better.
“We treat it as any other down for the most part,” Prescott said. “We know we’ve got to get it, but we all just believe in ourselves. Do you job; run your route the right way; block and guys; step up together; and we keep moving it.”