ReFo: Cardinals @ Cowboys, Week 9
Things started off well for the Dallas Cowboys with a pick-six on Arizona’s opening possession, but after that Arizona settled down and took advantage of an overmatched Brandon Weeden and focus their considerable efforts on limiting DeMarco Murray. With a competent offensive performance that was enough to solidify their spot atop the NFC and leave the Cowboys desperately needing to rebound against the Jaguars in London.
Arizona Cardinals – Three Performances of Note
Dan Williams, DT: +3.4
Breakdown: Williams had kind of been the forgotten man on the Arizona defense, coming out of the game on passing situations and playing in the shadows of better known linemen such as Calais Campbell Darnell Dockett. He managed six stops on defense (in just 31 snaps), along with a sack and a hurry, and was the catalyst for holding Murray under 100 yards rushing for the first time this season.
Signature Play: Q1, 8:48 remaining. On the Cowboys first play from scrimmage, he gets inside right tackle Jermey Parnell to stuff Murray for a one yard loss.
Andre Ellington, RB: +3.3
Breakdown: In his first season as the real workhorse of the Cardinals offense, Ellington hasn’t quite shown the elusiveness of his rookie year, while dealing with a foot injury dating back to training camp. Sunday in Dallas was a breakout performance, with his first game of the season in the “green”. He managed a season high 67 Yards After Contact running the ball, including 3.2 YAC per attempt.
Signature Play: Q4, 7:53 remaining. After Arizona rushes to the line to avoid a potential Dallas challenge, he takes advantage of a disoriented defense with a nice bounce out and burst around the edge for a 20 yard gain, helping set up the Cardinals’ third touchdown.
Tyrann Mathieu, DB: +2.0
Breakdown: Mathieu has struggled to return to Honey Badger form ever since tear knee ligaments in December of last year. Arizona has eased him back onto the field slowly, and this was the first game where he displayed his 2013 form, highlighted by his first interception of the year.
Signature Play: Q4, 10:22 remaining. After Weeden completes a short third down pass to Jason Witten off a scramble, Mathieu makes a terrific stop a yard short of the first down marker, setting up the game-defining stuff of Murray on 4th and 1 the very next play.
Dallas Cowboys – Three Performances of Note
Brandon Weeden, QB: -5.1
Breakdown: This just wasn’t the performance the Cowboys needed from their backup, once it was clear that they weren’t able to move the ball effectively on the ground. The lack of practice time with the first teamers was clearly an issue, as several times he seemed to be on a different page to them. He was 0-4 on passes 20+ yards downfield, and had just 4 completions on 17 targets to Williams and Bryant, all four of which came in the final five minutes.
Signature Play: Q3, 8:06 remaining. With Dallas marching for the potential go-ahead score in the third quarter, Weeden is a little behind Witten on an out-route, and Mathieu is able to come up with the drive-killing interception.
Zack Martin, RG: +2.6
Breakdown: Martin continued his stellar rookie campaign with his sixth straight game of +1.8 or higher. He didn’t allow a single pressure for the fourth time this year, and continued to display his athleticism on pull-blocks in the run game.
Signature Play: Q1, 5:39 remaining. He does a terrific job getting well out ahead of the screen, and simply steamrolls Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson.
Henry Melton, DT: +2.5
Breakdown: A large part of Dallas’ rejuvenated defense this year has been thanks to the offseason free agent pickup Henry Melton, who is quickly regaining his 2012 Pro Bowl form while with the Bears. In just 26 snaps against the Cardinals, Melton managed two sacks, a hit, and a hurry, as well as two stops on defense.
Signature Stat: Melton currently leads all defensive tackles with a Pass Rush Productivity rating of 11.2.
PFF Game Ball
Dan Williams gets our game ball for spearheading the Arizona run defense and helping shutdown NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray.