Grading the Cowboys vs. Bengals
RUN OFFENSE: A This was supposed to be a stalemate, but turned into a mismatch. The offensive line set the tone early in what was supposed to be a tough match-up against the vaunted Bengals defensive line. The Cowboys were more physical and dominant. Ezekiel Elliott feasted again with 134 yards on 15 carries. The Cowboys rushed 29 times for 180 yards as a team. That was 6.2 yards carry.
PASS OFFENSE: A Dak Prescott continues to check all the boxes while getting better every week. He was at his efficient best with 18 of 24 passing for 227 yards with one touchdown. He had a passer rating of 117.9. He completed passes to seven receivers, led by Terrance Williams who had five catches for 70 yards in what was his best game of the season. Prescott's ability to find the open player has more than made up for the absence of Dez Bryant the past couple of weeks. His ability to play mistake-free (outside one fumble) can't be understated.
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RUN DEFENSE: B The Bengals didn't get to run it often because the game got out of hand early. The numbers say they had 96 yards on 19 carries, a whopping 5.1 yards per carry. But quarterback Andy Dalton had six carries for 34 yards on scrambles. The two running backs combined for 13 carries for 62 yards, including 43 yards in the first half.
PASS DEFENSE: A The Cowboys notched a career high four sacks and pressured Dalton for four quarters. Even more special was the strong play in the secondary to keep game-breaking receiver A.J. Green under control with just four catches for 50 yards. The Cowboys have not allowed a 100-yard receiver in five games. Dalton passed for 269 yards on 41 attempts. He had 130 passing yards and the two scores in the fourth quarter.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C Lucky Whitehead had a muffed punt to bring the grade down. It wasn't lost, but it was muffed. Whitehead also had a 30-yard punt return. Chris Jones averaged 43.5 yards on two punts. Dan Bailey made four extra points with his ailing back.
COACHING: A Jason Garrett notched the 50th win of his career and it might have been his team's best performance. No Cowboys team under Garrett has been as dominant against a quality opponent such as the Bengals. That they did it without arguably their best players in Tony Romo and Dez Bryant speaks volumes.