Quietly, the Cowboys’ Week 3 matchup with the St. Louis Rams was a really important contest. Psychologically, there’s a major difference between 2-1 and 1-2. Sitting atop the NFC East with the former record, the ‘Boys now own a one-game lead over the Eagles and a two-game lead over both the Giants and Redskins. After re-watching the game, here are a few of my thoughts from Sunday’s win. . .
- The Cowboys’ ability to run the ball was an awesome sight to see. DeMarco Murray averaged 5.36 YPC even if you take out his longest run of 41 yards. Exactly half of his runs increased the Cowboys’ chances of scoring on a given drive, which is a really good number for a running back. Although I love Murray’s skill set, though, I think the majority of the work was done by the offensive line, which really opened up some massive holes.
- Tony Romo’s 210 yards were impressive because he attempted only 24 passes. Sam Bradford had only 30 yards more than Romo on twice the attempts. Romo averaged 8.8 YPA and contributed 12.1 EPA (expected points added). In comparison, he totaled -2.6 EPA in the first two games combined.
- Barry Church was all over the field, breaking up three passes on the day. He’s really come along in coverage, giving the Cowboys a reliable option at safety for the first time in a long time.
- All of the cornerbacks played outstanding football, but we really need to tip our hats to Orlando Scandrick. He held rookie speedster Tavon Austin to just 30 yards on six receptions. When you can corral a player like Austin before he gets going, his value is limited because he doesn’t run many downfield routes and he can’t score in the red zone. Scandrick also had a sack and a quarterback hit.
- Based on the halftime score of 17-0, the Cowboys had a 93 percent chance to win the game after two quarters. That assumes the teams were evenly matched, so the Cowboys’ win probability was probably closer to 95 percent or better.
- Bill Callahan did a really nice job of calling plays, especially on the first drive. The Cowboys opened up the game with the same “Pistol” look that we saw in Week 1. We also saw the old “kill” audible system, meaning Romo was actually given less freedom at the line in this game, and way more play-action passes.
- The Cowboys’ Week 4 matchup with San Diego is a huge one because the Broncos are up after that. It will be really important for Dallas to take on Denver with a winning record.