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Dallas Cowboys 2021 Season Review | Part 2 – Early Season Hot Streak

Sports

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (55) celebrating after a successful sack during gameplay against the Los Angeles Chargers. | Image by Tom Fox, The Dallas Morning News

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After a bumpy training camp in Oxnard, California, and four consecutive preseason losses, the Cowboys opened the season facing off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were fresh off a Super Bowl victory in 2021. The Cowboys accumulated more yards of offense, had fewer penalties, and held the ball longer, but were unable to overcome Tampa Bay. With only 1:22 remaining in the fourth quarter, quarterback Tom Brady and the Bucs snuck out a win against the Cowboys by a score of 31-29.

Dak Prescott threw for 403-yards in his first action since Week 5 of 2020. He completed touchdown passes to wide receivers Amari Cooper – twice – and once to CeeDee Lamb, but the running game was quiet with only 60 yards. DeMarcus Lawrence and free-agent pick-up Damontae Kazee both forced fumbles, while cornerbacks Trevon Diggs and Jourdan Lewis snagged the first two interceptions of the season. 

The loss to Tampa Bay would be the last disappointment for quite some time. In Week 2, the Cowboys faced the Los Angeles Chargers and red-hot QB Justin Herbert. Unlike the previous week, the Cowboys managed to work the final drive of the game to get into position for a walk-off 20-17 victory.

Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard scored the first two rushing touchdowns of the season, while Greg Zuerlein hit a 56-yard field goal as time expired. Off-season pick-up Damontae Kazee and Trevon Diggs both made interceptions, and rookie linebacker Micah Parsons recorded his first career sack.

Week 3 saw the Cowboys’ offense finally get hot against division-rival Philadelphia on Monday Night Football. The final score of 41-21 was closer than the actual gameplay. Less than one minute into the third quarter, Dallas cornerback Trevon Diggs intercepted his third pass of the season and took it the distance for a Cowboys touchdown that made the score 27-7. With less than six minutes remaining in the game, the Cowboys held a 41-17 lead and cruised to victory. 

The game was Prescott’s first home game since his 2020 injury. He connected with tight end Dalton Schultz and receiver Cedrick Wilson, Jr. for touchdowns, while Elliott added two more. Osa Odighizuwa and Parsons, both 2021 draft picks, totaled two sacks each, with the tandem combining for one. 

The next opponent was the previously unbeaten Carolina Panthers, and the Cowboys’ defense rose to the occasion, along with one of the strongest outings by the running game all season. Diggs extended his INT streak to four games and had two picks in the third quarter that changed the outcome of the game. 

Running back Ezekiel Elliot led the day with 143 yards rushing on 20 attempts and a touchdown. It would be his biggest game of the season. The Cowboys scored 20 points in the third quarter to take home a 36-28 victory. The defense had a field day, recording five sacks, including two by veteran Randy Gregory.

The Cowboys’ offense got hot again against division opponent New York Giants for Week 5. Elliott scored twice, catching a four-yard pass and rushing on a 13-yard play to find pay dirt. Diggs collected his sixth interception in five games, while cornerback Anthony Brown shut down the game with a fourth-quarter interception that he ran back for a touchdown to give the Cowboys a 44-20 win at home.

In perhaps one of the most thrilling endings all season, the Cowboys defeated the New England Patriots in Foxborough in Week 6 with a touchdown in overtime. Victory came with a 35-yard pass from Prescott to CeeDee Lamb for the walk-off win. Diggs added two more interceptions, including one that he returned for a touchdown. After the game, Prescott revealed that he injured his calf on the final play. 

The Cowboys entered the bye week with numerous injuries and several players on COVID protocols. The team sat at 6-1 and led the NFC East on a five-game win streak

In the final part of this Dallas Cowboys season recap, we will revisit the road to the playoffs.

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