Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ashley Landis/AP/Shutterstock (13452373ek) Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) sacks Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (56) and Rams offensive tackle Rob Havenstein (79) look on in the second half of an NFL football game, in Inglewood, Calif Cowboys Rams Football, Inglewood, United States – 09 Oct 2022
The Dallas Cowboys (4-1) used another smothering defensive effort and got just enough from their offense to take down the defending Super Bowl champions Los Angeles Rams (2-3) 22-10 on Sunday afternoon at SoFi Stadium.
Defense stuffs Rams offense
Despite giving up some explosive plays, the Cowboys defense did its job and kept the Rams in neutral for most of Sunday’s game.
The Cowboys got a pair of timey sacks and made plays when they needed to keep the Rams out of their end zone and playing from behind for almost all of the 60 minutes.
For the fifth straight game, the Cowboys held their opponent to under 20 points, mainly by getting off the field on third down. The Cowboys held L.A. to just six for 17 on third down in the game.
But the day wasn’t without its challenges for the defense, especially in the passing game.
Stafford finished the night with 308 yards passing, after throwing for 199 yards in the first half. He completed 28 of his 42 throws, but it was the big plays that hurt the Cowboys most.
In the first half, Rams receiver Tutu Atwell got past Trevon Diggs for a 54-yard catch, the first of his career. It led to a 29-yard field goal for the Rams.
Later in the first half, Stafford again made Diggs pay when the Rams quarterback connected with Cooper Kupp over the middle. Kupp, who made an outstanding one-handed grab, then split the Cowboys defenders and outran the everybody to the end zone for the touchdown.
The Cowboys did pick up four sacks – two for Micah Parsons and one each for Dorance Armstrong and Osi Odighizuwa – of Stafford in the game.
Pollard, Elliott make Rams pay
The Dallas offense used the 1-2 punch of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard to put 163 yards on the ground Sunday against a very good Rams defense.
The Cowboys pounded the Rams defensive front with 22 Elliott carries for 78 yards, and then used Pollard to gash them for 86 yards on just eight carries.
Elliott’s physical 3.54 yards per carry average helped wear the Rams defense down. That in turn allowed Pollard to use his speed to pop a 57-yard touchdown run.
With a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys went to Elliott and Pollard over and over again, including seven straight runs on a 5 minute, 37-second drive that ended with a 36-yard Brett Maher field goal to push the lead to 12 with 5:36 to play in the game.
Big day for DE Armstrong
Cowboys defensive end Dorance Armstrong was strong from the first snap of the game.
On third down of the Rams first possession, Armstrong blew past Rams tackle Joe Noteboom and ended with the strip-sack of quarterback Matt Stafford. DeMarcus Lawrence picked up the bouncing football and returned it 19 yards for the score and an early lead for Dallas.
On the very next Rams’ series, Armstrong made his presence felt again, blowing through the middle of the line and blocking a Riley Dixon punt deep in Los Angeles territory. The block set up the Cowboys for a 29-yard Brett Maher field goal a few plays later and a 9-0 lead.
Armstrong finished with just the two tackles, with the one sack, while playing most of his snaps at right defensive end.
Rush efficient, not flashy
Like he had done in the three weeks before, Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush was not asked to be the savior of the team on Sunday.
Instead, the Cowboys needed Rush to be a good facilitator and that is exactly what they got from their back-up.
With starter Dak Prescott still on the mend after thumb surgery, Rush completed 10 of 16 pass for 102 yards. However, he didn’t throw any touchdown pass, but he also didn’t throw any interceptions. He was sacked three times, twice by Aaron Donald and once by Jalen Ramsey.
Up and down day for special teams
It was a roller coaster ride for the Cowboys special teams on Sunday.
On the positive side, the Cowboys got a blocked punt from Dorance Armstrong on the Rams first drive of the game that resulted in a field goal.
Brett Maher made field goals of 33, 40 and 36 yards.
On the negative side, the Cowboys botched their first extra point attempt of the game. New long snapper Matt Overton, called up Saturday from the practice squad to replace the injured Jake McQuaid, fired the snap back to holder Bryan Anger, who was not ready for the ball. The ball squirted free, and Dallas had to settle for an early 6-0 lead.
In the second half, with the Cowboys pinned deep in their own end, Anger shanked a punt out of his own end zone that Brandon Powell caught at the Cowboys 43 and returned it down to the 29.