News & Analysis

NFL Week 15 PFF ReFocused: Dallas Cowboys 41, San Francisco 49ers 33

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton (14) hands off to running back Tony Pollard (20) in the fourth quarter of the NFL Week 14 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020. Former Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton led the Cowboys to a 30-7 over the Bengals. Dallas Cowboys At Cincinnati Bengals

The Dallas Cowboys kept their playoff hopes alive for at least another week while the San Francisco 49ers‘ loss means they won’t be returning to the playoffs to defend their NFC crown.

Even without their starting quarterback, starting running back and both starting tackles, the Cowboys had no trouble lighting up the scoreboard.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

STORY OF THE GAME

Backup running back Tony Pollard stole the show this afternoon. He racked up 81 yards on the ground on 13 carries, including two scores, and added five catches for 51 yards. He broke five tackles on those thirteen carries and had one of the most improbable touchdown runs all season. 

The final score may not necessarily reflect it, but this was one of the Cowboys' best defensive performances of the season, as they forced four turnovers on the backs of multiple standout showings.

Safety Donovan Wilson had a career day, allowing only one catch on three targets, albeit for a score. He also picked off a pass and dropped another interception opportunity.

Two of the Cowboys' much-maligned corners had their best games of the season, as well. Anthony Brown allowed two catches from three targets for 23 yards and had a pick. Chidobe Awuzie only allowed two catches from six targets for 26 yards and broke up two passes.

Of course, the standout performances in the Dallas secondary coincided with a dreadful day from Nick Mullens. The 49ers quarterback had an unsightly five turnover-worthy plays and not a single big-time throw. 

ROOKIE WATCH

It was a battle between two of the best rookie receivers in the NFL, and both showed off their prodigious skill sets. CeeDee Lamb showed his strong hands and big-play ability with a tough catch over the middle on a free play. He finished the day with five catches on six targets for 85 yards.

Brandon Aiyuk, on the other hand, flashed the YAC ability he’s known for. His nine catches only went for 73 yards, but he broke three tackles after the catch, as well.

However, the real standout among the rookies in the game came on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive tackle Neville Gallimore had his best game as a pro. He notched a pressure, a batted pass and two stops in the run game. His ability to penetrate is a welcome sight for Cowboys fans.

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