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Week 15 Game Recap: Dallas Cowboys 0, Indianapolis Colts 23


What you need to know

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys were a no-show on the road in the sound defeat at the hands of the Colts. Dallas was down big by the early third quarter and failed to gain any momentum even in garbage time. Ezekiel Elliott was dinged up during the game, limping off the field on two occasions, but returned both times to be the lone offensive performer of note in the poor team effort. Dallas remains in a prime position to make the playoffs, but with need a quick turnaround and a ‘get well’ effort against Tampa Bay next week.

Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck and the Colts took a run heavy approach against the Cowboys. Both of the Colts touchdown drives were fueled almost entirely by the run game. Marlon Mack played one of his best games of the season. Mack was able to find chunks of yardage up the gut and on the edge. Luck played well but had a couple of less than perfect throws targeting TY Hilton. Hilton played well and looked healthy despite being listed as questionable. Eric Ebron was more involved than his stat line suggests but had a pair of catchable passes go through his hands. Nyheim Hines made some nice plays in the passing game and finished as the Colts second leading receiver. The return of Dontrelle Inman creatred a 3 way split in playing time between him and Ryan Grant and Zach Pascal.

Dallas Cowboys

QB Dak Prescott, 69 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 39 - 206 - 0 TD / 1 INT
Dallas got down early and never challenged the Colts offensively. Prescott was rarely comfortable in the pocket as Prescott made a myriad of errors from holding the ball too long to inaccuracy to receivers not helping Prescott. The typically mobile Prescott did not log a rushing attempt for the first time all season and his best throw of the game, a rollout touchdown opportunity to Jamize Olawale was dropped at the goal line. It was downhill from that early moment as Prescott airmailed an open Amari Cooper, gave up a field goal opportunity with an ill-timed sack, and a tipped interception icing the game in the fourth quarter as notable plays. Prescott gets a quality matchup to rebound in Week 16 with the suspect Tampa Bay defense heading to Dallas.

RB Ezekiel Elliott, 61 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 87 - 0, Rec: 7 - 41 - 0 (8 targets)
Elliott was the lone bright spot for a lagging Dallas offense in the shutout road loss in Indianapolis. Elliott collected 25 touches despite limping off the field on two occasions, but returning to action shortly after. Elliott showed an array of quality plays as Dallas’ offensive centerpiece, but was stuffed on fourth-and-one near the goal line on his notable touchdown opportunity in the game. Elliott added a drop in the passing game but did lead the team in receptions as little was working for Dallas through the air outside of check downs in the direction of Elliott.

WR Amari Cooper, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 11 - 0, Rec: 4 - 32 - 0 (7 targets)
While Cooper saw seven targets against the Colts, it was his lowest total in four games as the central figure of Dallas’ passing offense. Cooper did not log a catch until midway through the second quarter and also had two receptions called back by penalty. Cooper’s biggest play opportunity was a deep sideline target, but tight coverage thwarted the play. Cooper was also airmailed by Dak Prescott when wide open on a rollout play. Tampa Bay offers an ideal rebound opponent in Week 16.

WR Cole Beasley, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 42 - 0 (7 targets)
Beasley saw a hearty seven targets against the Colts, his highest total since Week 7. Beasley appeared to hurt his ankle on a yards-after-catch foray in the second quarter but did not miss meaningful action as a result. Beasley converted a fourth down slant but the play was called back by penalty. Later, Beasley had a fourth down target tipped away by a defender. Beasley’s involvement in the offense was promising but little was working for Dallas on the outside between Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, leading to targets funneling towards Beasley and Ezekiel Elliott.

WR Michael Gallup, 55 offensive snaps
Gallup failed to make the box score against the Colts, drawing a defensive holding penalty in the second half of the blowout loss as his lone contribution. Gallup was coming off 16 targets over the past two games before the invisible performance as the entire Dallas passing game was silenced on the road. Gallup gets a quality bounce-back opportunity against Tampa Bay in Week 16.

TE Blake Jarwin, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 45 - 0 (7 targets)
Jarwin was the clear preferred option over Dalton Schultz for the second week in a row, collecting a promising seven targets in each game. Jarwin fought through contact for yards-after-the-catch converting a third down but dropped a third down floating pass in field goal range. Jarwin had two catches in clear garbage time and also dropped two more passes in his up-and-down performance.


Indianapolis Colts

QB Andrew Luck, 72 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 27 - 192 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 20 - 0
Andrew Luck and the Colts leaned on their run game to generate much of their offense against the Cowboys including on an opening possession touchdown. The Colts did not need to be very aggressive throwing the ball with their run game finding so much success and with the Cowboys struggling offensively. The Colts opening possession consisted of short passes and run plays after the Colts took over on downs in excellent field position. Marlon Mack capped the drive with a 1 yard touchdown run. The Colts ensuing possession stalled thanks to 3 offensive penalties including a holding penalty that negated a 38 yard gain to Eric Ebron. Luck set up a field goal before halftime running the two minute offense with two completions to TY Hilton for gains of 12 and 23. The Colts scored a touchdown on their opening possession of the second half. Again the drive was fueled by underneath passes the run game. Colts running backs totaled 64 yards on the drive including a 6 yard touchdown run by Marlon Mack. Luck had a pair of less than perfect throws downfield targeting Hilton. The first was well off target when Hilton had a linebacker in coverage downfield and the second was an underthrow for a gain of 37 that could have gone for a long score had it been a perfect throw. The completion set up another field goal and gave the Colts a 20 point lead.

RB Marlon Mack, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 27 - 139 - 2, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (1 targets)
Marlon Mack was the driving force of the Colts offense. Mack rarely went down on first contact and consistently found chunks of yardage between and outside the tackles. Mack slipped a tackle from an unblocked defender on the edge on his way to a 19 yard run. A few plays later Mack burst up the middle for a 1 yard touchdown run. Mack caught a check down from Luck for 10 yards. Mack followed Ryan Kelly who was pulling from his center position to the edge for a 12 yard gain on pitch play. Mack followed a pair of good blocks on the edge around the corner for 12 more yards running outside. Mack found gaping holes through the middle of the Cowboys defense on consecutive plays. The first was a physical 21 yard carry and the second was a 6 yard touchdown where Mack wasn't touched until he crossed the goal line. Mack was tracked down from behind in the backfield and was stripped giving the Cowboys the ball back but the game was already well in hand. Mack responded to the fumble with gains of 6 and 16 to secure the victory.

RB Nyheim Hines, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 19 - 0, Rec: 4 - 45 - 0 (6 targets)
Nyheim Hines functioned as the third down back and change of pace back to Marlon Mack. Hines continues to be used creatively by the Colts lining up at various positions to create matchups in the passing game. Hines made his first catch over the middle from the slot for 6 yards. Hines slipped a tackle running a comeback route out wide and escaped down the sideline for 17 yards. Hines got wide open running a slant over the middle and went for 19 yards uncontested.

WR T.Y. Hilton, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 85 - 0 (8 targets)
TY Hilton played well and looked healthy after being listed as questionable. Hilton made his first catch for 5 yards running a curl route. Hilton was targeted for a potential 1 yard touchdown but Luck's pass was slightly off target and bounced off Hilton's hands. Hilton made a tough 12 yard catch between two defenders running an in breaking route. Hilton came wide open simply running down the seam for a gain of 23. Luck badly missed Hilton who was open downfield for a potential long touchdown with a linebacker in coverage. Hilton smoked his man running a go route and could have had a touchdown with a perfect throw from Luck but the pass went for 37 yards. Hilton caught a pass running a slant for 8 yards.

TE Eric Ebron, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (3 targets)
Eric Ebron did not play well against the Cowboys. Ebron dropped a pass over the middle that hit him right in the hands and would have gone for at least a 15 yard gain. Ebron had a 38 yard catch and run negated by a holding penalty. Ebron had a pass 17 yards downfield get knocked out of his hands by Xavier Woods who made an outstanding play. Ebron made an 8 yard catch over the middle for 8 yards on 3rd and short.