DET-DAL grades: Prescott, Bryant earn top marks for Cowboys

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Cowboys' Week 16 win over the Lions.

| 6 months ago
Dak Prescott

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

DET-DAL grades: Prescott, Bryant earn top marks for Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 42, Detroit Lions 21

Here are the key takeaways, along with the highest-graded players, from Dallas’ 42-21 victory over Detroit.

Dallas Cowboys

QB Grade: Dak Prescott, 86.4 

Prescott’s impressive run continues 

Dak Prescott has been lights out the past two weeks, and the only thing stopping him Monday night was opportunity. The quarterback averaged over 10 yards per attempt, mainly due to his downfield passing. On throws 10+ yards downfield, Prescott went seven-of-nine for 138 yards and three touchdowns; that’s a perfect 158.3 passer rating. The rookie added in 20 yards on scrambles and 15 rushing yards on one designed run.

Dak Prescott vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

QB Dak Prescott, 86.4 

WR Dez Bryant, 85.2

WR Terrance Williams, 78.0

C Travis Frederick, 77.2

LT Tyron Smith, 73.2

Bryant records best outing of season 

He may have only been targeted five times, but Dez Bryant made the most of those opportunities. Two of those targets went for touchdowns (both in impressive fashion). The first was a one-hander against Johnson Bademosi, where Bryant was also interfered with. The second was a back-shoulder throw, where the WR simply outmuscled CB Nevin Lawson at the catch-point. 70 yards is much more impressive when you consider that Bryant ran only 27 routes all night. 

Top defensive grades:

CB Orlando Scandrick, 82.7

LB Anthony Hitchens, 81.1

CB Brandon Carr, 80.4

S Byron Jones, 76.7

S J.J. Wilcox, 76.0

Secondary shuts down Lions’ passing attack

Orlando Scandrick allowed five catches on seven targets, but limited the production on those five grabs to just 52 yards; he also recorded two pass breakups. Meanwhile, Brandon Carr allowed just two catches on seven targets; he also had a pass breakup, holding Matthew Stafford to just a 40.2 QB rating when targeting Carr’s man in coverage. Jones, Wilcox, and Church combined to allow just 61 passing yards between them (Jones surrendered just 12). Wilcox recorded an interception and an additional pass breakup, and Church was also second on the team with eight tackles on the night.

Detroit Lions

Quarterback grade: Matthew Stafford, 43.9

Brutal night all around for the veteran QB

Simply put, Matthew Stafford couldn’t get it together on Monday night in Dallas. His adjusted completion percentage was just 70.7—for the season, that mark is at 77.0 percent, which ranks eighth among QBs. Even when given a clean pocket, he completed just 20 of 34 passes for 177 yards to go with an interception and a 60.5 QB rating. Stafford had minimal success moving the ball downfield, completing just four of 13 passes for a total of just 56 yards on throws traveling at least 10 yards in the air. Ball security was also an issue for Stafford, as he coughed up a fumble, threw a pick, and was fortunate to not throw at least one more.

 Matthew Stafford vs pressure

Top offensive grades: 

RG Larry Warford, 85.6

LG Laken Tomlinson, 81.5

LT Taylor Decker, 79.1

RT Riley Reiff, 78.9

TE Eric Ebron, 69.4 

Offensive line plays well in loss

Larry Warford had an excellent game run blocking, finishing the night with a robust 89.5 run-blocking grade. It’s a shame that the Lions had to ditch the run game, however, as Dallas kept piling on the points due to offensive success early on. Opposite Warford, Laken Tomlinson didn’t surrender a single pressure on 45 passing snaps, and there was an immediate impact felt when he was replaced for a bit by Joe Dahl, who surrendered a QB hit on just six pass-blocking snaps. On the outside, rookie left tackle Taylor Decker surrendered just two pressures in pass protection—his fewest total pressures surrendered in a game since he gave up just one in Week 7 versus Washington.

Top defensive grades:

S Tavon Wilson, 86.6

DT A’Shawn Robinson, 78.8

DT Stefan Charles, 74.6

DE Ezekiel Ansah, 74.1

DT Tyrunn Walker, 73.8

Detroit fails to produce consistent pressure up front

The Lions’ defensive line may have gotten home for a couple sacks, but that was about it in the way of pressure. Dak Prescott was under pressure on only six dropbacks all night, and a couple of those were of the cleanup variety. That’s not going to get it done against one of the best offenses in the NFL. The secondary wasn’t without blame, though. Johnson Bademosi and Nevin Lawson looked lost on multiple targets, and allowed 121 yards between them on nine pass attempts into their coverage.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

  • Mike

    PFF needs to put a grade on head coaching and officiating…

    • GBPFan12

      Maybe don’t leave awful Corners alone in man coverage against Dez Bryant?

      Or just whine about the refs cause they actually penalized Nevin Lawson for holding (finally).

      • Mike

        Was Nevin Lawson called for holding?