Cowboys vs. Bengals score, takeaways: Cooper Rush outduels Joe Burrow, leads Dallas to thrilling Week 2 win

The Dallas Cowboys narrowly escaped the reigning AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2, as Brett Maher kicked a game-winning 50-yard field goal with just seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to win 20-17. With Dak Prescott out due to a thumb injury, Cooper Rush engineered a six-play, 33-yard drive with just under one minute remaining to set up Maher for the game-winning boot.

Rush proved to be an effective game manager, as he completed 19 of 31 passes for 235 yards and one touchdown. Noah Brown was his favorite target, catching five passes for 91 yards and a touchdown. While the Cowboys were in control for the first three quarters, the Bengals almost pulled off an incredible comeback.

Cincinnati’s first touchdown of the game came at a pivotal juncture. Late in the fourth quarter, Joe Burrow led the offense 83 yards down the field on 19 plays to tie the game at 17 apiece with a touchdown pass to Tee Higgins, and a two-point conversion throw to Tyler Boyd. The Bengals had a chance on their next possession to engineer a game-winning drive, but instead went three-and-out, and set up Rush for a chance at glory — which he capitalized on.

Let’s take a deeper look at what went down in Big D.

Why the Cowboys won

The Cowboys were the only team in the NFL to not score a touchdown in Week 1, but this offense scored two in the first half on Sunday. Dallas struck quickly on its opening drive, as Rush led an impressive 12-play, 75-yard drive which was capped by a Brown touchdown. After a Bengals field goal, Rush led another touchdown drive — which was sparked by an impressive Tony Pollard 47-yard catch-and-run. The play was initially ruled a touchdown, but the officials overturned the result and placed the ball at the 1-yard line. Dallas decided to reward Pollard for his effort, and he punched in the second score of the game from the goal line. The Cowboys outgained the Bengals in the first half 227 yards to 84 yards.

The Cowboys’ strong offensive start is a reason why Dallas emerged victorious on Sunday, but it’s not the main reason. The Cowboys won this game because of their tenacious pass rush and the six sacks they created. Burrow didn’t have many opportunities to look downfield, he never found a rhythm through three quarters and sacks put the offense behind the eight ball several times. Micah Parsons and the defense willed this team to a win.

Why the Bengals lost

The Bengals knew they had to fix the offensive line this offseason. While they made several additions that looked good on paper with center Ted Karras, right guard Alex Cappa and right tackle La’el Collins, this offensive front isn’t performing any better compared to last year. Coming into Sunday, the Bengals had allowed seven or more sacks in three of the last four games, including postseason. The offensive line allowed 10-plus pressures in each of their last four games, and Sunday wasn’t any different.

Burrow was sacked six times, and Collins, the former Cowboys-turned-Bengals right tackle, was accused by fans on social media of being a double agent, as he struggled with his former teammate, Parsons, and had multiple false-start penalties.

This was the story of the game, and it’s a major cause for concern when it comes to the Bengals’ ceiling this season. The Bengals have some issues to correct after falling to 0-2. Seven NFL teams started 0-2 last season, and none made the 14-team playoff field.

Turning point

It felt like we were going to overtime. No disrespect to Rush, but the Cowboys had less than a minute left in the fourth quarter and were operating from their own 35-yard line. However, that didn’t faze the quarterback. Rush found Brown for 12 yards on second down, then hit CeeDee Lamb for 10 yards on the very next play. Those two completions got Dallas into position to kick the game-winning field goal.

Play of the Game

Cowboys fans have been calling for more touches from Tony Pollard — as they should. This play set the Cowboys up for their second touchdown of the game. Not only did Pollard show impressive vision in finding the opening, but he also exploded around the edge and up the sideline.

What’s next

The Cowboys hit the road for the first time this season next week, as they will pay a visit to the undefeated New York Giants for “Monday Night Football.” As for the Bengals, they will travel to New Jersey to take on the 1-1 Jets next Sunday, who upset the Cleveland Browns earlier today.

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