Another week, another Big 12-esque game for the Dallas Cowboys — this time in a 49-38 loss to the Cleveland Browns. It was a dominant effort from Cleveland’s running game, and while Dallas fought back with its pass game, a 41-14 deficit proved to be too much.
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
For the third straight week, the story is about the Dallas passing attack putting up points, but the defense being unable to stop anyone. The Browns ran for 307 yards while averaging a ridiculous .47 expected points added on designed runs, the highest mark of any team in a game this season. Even after star running back Nick Chubb went down due to injury, Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson picked up the slack — both averaged at least 4.7 yards after contact per rush. The deal was sealed with wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. turning a clock-killing end around into a 50-yard touchdown to put the Browns up two scores late in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, the Cowboys came in with a 54.6 team defense grade, which will be going down after this effort. The unit missed seven tackles in the run game, and when the Browns did pass, the secondary did little to slow them down. It resulted in another game in which the Dallas offense was left with little margin for error and the third straight week in which the Cowboys have surrendered at least 38 points.
Dallas has clearly embraced playing in weekly shootouts, and quarterback Dak Prescott posted his third straight game with at least 450 yards. However, Prescott easily should have had three to five interceptions, as he continually put the ball on the hands of Browns defenders.
The early turning point in the game came on a strip-sack from Browns edge defender Myles Garrett, a play that was tough for Prescott to avoid — and one of the rare times the Browns got pressure. Garrett had six of the Browns’ nine pressures on the afternoon.
For the Browns, it was a statement win over a team that is still playing better than its 1-3 record. Meanwhile, the Cowboys must find a way to resolve the second part of that statement. How do they reconcile dropping to 1-3 with an offense that can keep up with any in the league? It must start on the defensive side of the ball.
Brown left tackle Jedrick Wills, Jr. continued the strong start to his career with a clean pass-blocking effort. He’s handled the transition to left tackle nicely.
Tight end Harrison Bryant played 52 snaps in the Browns two-tight end heavy system and caught four passes for 37 yards including two first downs while also forcing two missed tackles.
The Cowboys had an impressive rookie offensive line performance of their own, as Tyler Biadasz played well in his second career start at center.
On the other side of the ball, CB Trevon Diggs forced his fourth incompletion of the season, but he continues to struggle; he gave up three first downs on his seven targets to go with a facemask penalty.