This was as one sided as it gets in the preseason finale, as the Broncos cruised to a 27-3 victory in Dallas. Although we didn’t get the excitement of seeing Peyton Manning or Tony Romo, this game was entertaining in its own way with players going all-out to secure spots as the two teams try to polish off their 53-man rosters.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the standout performances, which included a defensive tackle, an offensive tackle, and a quarterback for each team.
Denver Broncos – Performances of Note
Marvin Austin, DT: +3.9
Breakdown: The former second-rounder made life difficult for the Cowboy backups, registering a hit and pressure rushing the passer to go along with a stop in the run game in 26 snaps. This was in addition to his work as a general nuisance to Dallas – standing up blockers and squeezing the point of attack – that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. However, with many of his teammates on the defensive line also seeing success in this game (check out 14:55 of the fourth quarter for an example), we’ll see whether this performance (and his +1.7 last week) was enough for Austin to secure a roster spot.
Signature Play: Q2, 12:58. Too quick and too powerful for rookie center Ronald Patrick, as he easily disengaged to track down the rusher for a short gain.
Paul Cornick, LT: -3.1
Breakdown: After a positive preseason coming in, it’s safe to say Cornick saved his worst for last, surrendering each of a hurry, hit, and sack, with a holding penalty in run blocking adding to his misfortune.
Signature Plays: 2Q, 0:40 and 0:30. Cornick acted as little more than a speed bump for Kenneth Boatright on his path to the quarterback on consecutive plays in the two-minute drill.
Brock Osweiler, QB: +2.9
Breakdown: Osweiler bounced back from a rough game against Houston to lead Denver to a comfortable 24-3 before exiting for Zac Dysert in the third quarter, impressively completing nine of 11 aimed passes, including four of his five deep (20+ yard) attempts. With that his 14.6 YPA and 111.9 passer rating came as no surprise.
Signature Play: 2Q, 0:19. Found a space in coverage to hit Cameron Morrah on the post, setting up first-and-goal late in the two-minute drill.
Dallas Cowboys – Performances of Note
Brandon Weeden, QB: -3.0
Breakdown: After starting the preseason well against San Diego, Weeden’s play has fallen off a cliff in the three games since, with two games at -3.0 or below (including this one). He misread coverage to throw a bad interception rolling right at 3:40 of the first quarter, and almost added a second on the next drive (1Q, 0:18), but was bailed out with the ball somehow caught by Jamar Newsome after going through the hands of CB Tony Carter.
Signature Stat: Aimed more passes further than 10 yards downfield (six) than within 10 yards or behind the line of scrimmage (five).
John Wetzel, RT, -8.7
Breakdown: A false start and holding penalty turned out to be the least of his worries, as, spending time at both left and right tackle, Wetzel did all he could to ensure a cut in allowing two sacks, a hit, and two hurries. He was also beaten several more times in pass protection on plays that didn’t quite qualify as pressure, with much of his trouble coming at the hands of Quanterus Smith.
Signature Play: 2Q, 12:22. Allowed Smith inside for a big hit on Weeden, though the quarterback was able to get the ball away just in time for a completion down the right sideline.
Zach Minter, DT, +2.9
Breakdown: He’s had a bit of a rollercoaster preseason, alternating between positive and negative games, but Minter saved his best for last in this one with three stops in run defense and two pressures in 12 snaps rushing the passer (one nullified by penalty).
Signature Plays: 2Q, 7:30 and 4Q, 9:46. On the first, beat the reach block of RT Michael Schofield to bring down the rusher for a loss on third-and-short. And in the same situation in the fourth quarter, Minter did the same thing, knifing inside for the stop to send the Denver offense off of the field.
PFF Game Ball
While Marvin Austin had a great game, this one goes to Broncos defensive end Quanterus Smith, who notched a +3.4 grade while playing 13 more snaps than his teammate.
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