Posted on September 17, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The Denver Broncos taught the rest of the NFL a very important lesson Sunday afternoon. The trick to beating Dallas is simple– keep their offense off the field, force a turnover or two, and make the Cowboys count on their defense to win the game. You know—play their own style of game against them.
Denver did just that and ended up crushing the Cowboys, 42-17.
The defense that looked so good last week against the New York Giants looked terrible against the Broncos. Trevor Siemian picked apart the secondary with ease completing 22 of 32 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns. His one interception can be pinned on the receiver slipping.
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It helped, of course, that the Dallas defense couldn’t blitz like crazy and put a ton of pressure on Siemian. C.J. Anderson was too busy gashing the Cowboys in the running game too much (25 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown) to allow them to do that.
“They played better than us, clear as night and day,” Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant said after the game (USAToday).
Dallas tried to stick with the running game, but Ezekiel Elliot couldn’t find even a sliver of daylight against Denver’s front seven (nine carries for eight yards). Prescott ended up leading the Cowboys in rushing with 24 yards on three carries.
When asked how his team stopped the Cowboys run game, Broncos head coach Vance Joseph had this to say (ESPN):
“We went out in base front, and we’re playing man-free, so they knew they couldn’t run the football. That was our plan, to make them throw the football. He could have run it 15 more times for ten more yards, but that wouldn’t help him win. Nobody has played them that way. It was definitely a surprise to them, in my opinion.”
While the Denver defense deserves all the credit in the world for dominating the Cowboys offense the way they did, the play-calling didn’t help the Cowboys very much. The team is built to run the ball and let the offense expand from there. But for some odd reason, Dallas passed on ten of their first 15 plays.
Does that mean the game could have gone differently had Dallas tried to run the ball more? Not necessarily. Beating Dallas is easier when you stuff the run and keep Dak Prescott from warming up. But the Denver offense took care of business as well.
The Cowboys defense is effective when it can get off the field fast. But when a team forces it to stay on the field, it becomes progressively worse. The Broncos had three drives of 10+ plays. They only scored on two (the other resulted in a missed field goal), but the damage was done.
Denver converted on nine of 15 third downs and didn’t have to punt until the fourth quarter when they already had a 35-17 lead.
Even though they fell behind 28-10 after the Broncos opened the second half with a touchdown, the Cowboys still had a shot. They just needed to respond on their opening drive of the second half with points of their own. Instead, Dak Prescott threw an uncharacteristic interception.
Two plays later, C.J. Anderson trots in from 23-yards out to make the score 35-10. The blowout was officially on.
Prescott threw a second interception late in the fourth quarter. Aqib Talib returned it 103-yards for a touchdown to make the final score 42-17.
“This creates a lot of work, but frankly, we knew we had a lot of work coming into this,” owner Jerry Jones said (USAToday).
With the win, the Broncos were able to maintain their dominance over the Cowboys. The last time they lost to Dallas was on September 10, 1995 (31-21 at Texas Stadium; ESPN).
Dallas will try to get back on track against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football next week (kickoff at 8:30 PM ET). The Broncos will try to remain undefeated when they travel to Buffalo next week (kickoff at 1 PM ET)