CIN-DAL grades: Rookie QB Dak Prescott continues to impress
Dallas Cowboys 28, Cincinnati Bengals 14
Highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Cowboys’ Week 5 home win over the Bengals.
Quarterback grade: Andy Dalton 75.9
Dalton struggles to push ball downfield in meager first half
Andy Dalton was okay in Week 5, posting a solid grade, but much of that work came in the fourth quarter when the Bengals were down four touchdowns, and the Cowboys were willing to sit back in coverage and watch the time tick off the clock. In the first half, Dalton only had one positively-graded throw, putting the Bengals in a hole that they could not climb out of.
Top offensive grades
C Russell Bodine, 77.7
QB Andy Dalton, 75.9
LT Andrew Whitworth, 75.3
LG Clint Boling, 75.1
WR Brandon LaFell, 72.8
Offense cant find A.J. Green
The Bengals opened the game with four drives ending in punts, and found themselves down three touchdowns at halftime looking to crawl back into the game. Unable to throw anything down the field, Dalton was forced to try to scramble on three-fourths of Cincinnati’s third-and-long plays in the first half, coming up short of the marker each time. A.J. Green is the key to the Bengals’ offense, and he was essentially shut out, posting a 57.4 overall grade on the day.
Top defensive grades
DE Carlos Dunlap, 77.1
LB Karlos Dansby, 76.7
S Shawn Williams, 76.6
DT Pat Sims, 75.1
CB Dre Kirkpatrick, 73.4
Bengals’ linebackers struggle against Cowboys
Starting linebackers Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict were targeted ruthlessly by Dallas. Combined, they managed only four stops in 54 snaps, regularly finding themselves washed yards from the intended point of attack. In coverage, the pair was targeted six times, surrendered six completions, allowed 72 yards, and gave up a touchdown. Burfict at least contributed occasionally; Maualuga on the other hand, recorded a measly 30.4 grade. The Bengals’ defense has toiled in the early part of the season, and the issues at linebacker are a major contributor. Why Vincent Rey was relegated to a backup role is an ongoing mystery.
Quarterback grade: Dak Prescott, 86.7
Prescott executing measured offense to perfection
Relying on the running game and half-field reads shouldn’t detract from Dak Presctott’s outstanding performances this season. He was superb against the Bengals, missing just two throws (discounting drops and passes thrown away). Tony Romo will have a difficult task reclaiming his starting spot with Prescott in this kind of form. Although the majority of his targets were close to the line of scrimmage, the Cowboys’ prodigy still completed six of eight passes beyond 10 yards for 111 total passing yards. The Prescott selection looks inspired at this stage.
Top offensive grades:
QB Dak Prescott, 86.7
RG Zack Martin, 83.8
WR Terrance Williams, 78.9
LT Tyron Smith, 78.8
LG Ronald Leary, 78.4
Bullying lineman have Cowboys’ run game rolling
Zack Martin’s performances have gone up a notch this season. He’s been reliable in pass protection, giving up only three pressures, but has done his best work in the run game, helping Ezekiel Elliott (73.0 overall grade versus Cincinnati) to another 130+ yard rushing game. Martin set the tone early against the Bengals, decimating Rey Maulaga at the second level on the Cowboys’ first carry. Opposite him, Ronald Leary has filled in seamlessly for the injured La’el Collins. With All-Pro Tyron Smith also returning, Dallas becomes an even more imposing proposition. Prescott can be confident his blindside will be protected with Smith in the lineup; the left tackle has allowed only one sack in 112 snaps this year.
Top defensive grades
CB Brandon Carr, 80.1
CB Morris Claiborne, 80.0
DE Benson Mayowa, 78.3
S J.J. Wilcox, 77.0
DT Terrell McClain, 76.4
Cowboys’ cornerbacks impress
It’s no surprise to see the top two Dallas grades go to their corners after watching A.J. Green struggle to make an impact in the game. When Green was targeted six times against Claiborne and Carr, he only had three catches for 28 yards. In a surprise to everyone, Claiborne is now the second-highest graded Cowboys defender on the season.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Cowboys QB Dak Prescott
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