Who earned game balls from the Cowboys-Cardinals game?

The Dallas Cowboys rebounded from a listless defeat in Denver to beat the Arizona Cardinals 28-17 on Monday Night Football.
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The Dallas Cowboys rebounded from a listless defeat in Denver to beat the Arizona Cardinals 28-17 on Monday Night Football.

Dallas Cowboys

Run defense, coaching top Cowboys grades against Cardinals

By Clarence E. Hill Jr.


September 26, 2017 12:29 PM

The Dallas Cowboys moved to 2-1 on the season with a significant 28-17 win over Arizona on Monday night that included a social message off the field.

The Cowboys linked arm in arm in a sign of unity and took a knee as a team before the national anthem. The move was a response to President Donald Trump’s condemnation over the weekend in a speech and on Twitter of player protests during the anthem. Players have said the protests are a response to racism and police brutality.

In the game, the Cowboys snapped a four-game losing streak against the Cardinals, including a three-game losing streak in Arizona.

RUN OFFENSE: B Ezekiel Elliott had 22 carries for 80 yards including his first touchdown of the season. He had runs of 30 and 20 yards. The other 20 carries netted 30 yards. So it was tough sledding. There were no allegations of Elliott quitting. He played hard. Quarterback Dak Prescott had a couple of nice runs off zone reads, stinging a defense focused on Elliott. The best was a 10-yard touchdown run and somersault into the end zone.

PASS OFFENSE: A It wasn't always pretty for Prescott, but he showed patience and in the end found a way to win. Prescott completed 13 of 18 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. At least three of his incompletions were throwaways. Brice Butler had the best game of his career with two catches for 90 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown catch. Both were high-point catches that the Cowboys need for the 6-foot-3 Butler to make down the field.

RUN DEFENSE: A The Cardinals rushed 21 times for only 49 yards as the Cowboys run defense bounced back in a big way after being gashed last week by Denver Broncos. There were few missed tackles. Sean Lee led the way with eight tackles. Jaylon Smith had six. Safety Byron Jones had his most impactful game of the season with six tackles.

PASS DEFENSE: B Carson Palmer passed for 325 yards and two touchdowns. And Larry Fitzgerald was amazing. But the Cowboys pass defense recorded six sacks, including three by DeMarcus Lawrence. Safety Byron Jones had a couple of key pass deflections, including one on the final goal-line stand to end the game. Justin Durant played for Jaylon Smith on passing downs and proved to be effective as a spy in the middle of the field.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A Chris Jones had four punts inside the 20. He consistently helped the Cowboys win the battle of field position. No one has done their job better this season. Ryan Switzer sparked a touchdown drive with a 21-yard punt return. The coverage teams were solid.

COACHING: A Give Jason Garrett credit. He had the Cowboys ready and focused despite the anthem discussions before the game. Also give defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli a tip of the cap for going exclusively to a three-man pass rush and using Durant in place of Smith on passing downs.

Clarence Hill: 817-390-7760, @clarencehilljr