The defensive line had a similarly dominant day against the run. Though the four linemen produced no sacks between them, they pushed into the Rams backfield all night, often led by Antwaun Woods.
Woods has had his own struggles this season, having missed six games with various injuries, and the Cowboys have certainly missed him. He’s really the Cowboys only truly quality nose tackle (or one-technique in Marinelli’s system).
It’s notable that their record is 2-4 in those six games. It’s not surprising given their performance against the run in recent match-ups. The tackling has been terrible, and opposing running backs have had an easy time racking up the yards. But that all changed against the Rams.
It appears a few weeks off has helped Woods, as he was one of the most dominant linemen on either side in the game on Sunday. It wasn’t just his five tackles either, 1.5 of which were tackles-for-loss. It was also his penetration.
This pressure definitely appeared to affect Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who finished the game 33-51 for 284 yards. He looked off-balance and rushed many of his throws, and often flat-out missed his target. This was especially true in the first half when Woods was fresh and often in his face.
Perhaps most importantly, though, Rams three-time Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley was held to 20 yards on 11 carries for the game. His dismal performance pretty much doomed the Rams.
The game was mostly over by halftime, when the Cowboys led the Rams 28-7. It’s interesting that Su’a-Filo and Woods were not as dominant in the second half, and this is when the Rams finally started to score some points.
It looks like both players, who have been on the sideline for much of the season (for different reasons), are still playing themselves into shape. But it also makes my point, that these two linemen were a big part of the difference on Sunday.
There’s been all sorts of speculation about what might happen next with the Cowboys. Will they beat the Eagles in Philadelphia next week? Can they actually win in the playoffs? It’s football, so nobody knows. But if the Cowboys offensive and defensive lines can continue this level of play, the Cowboys have a real shot to beat anyone.
Su’a-Filo and Woods should be huge factors here. If both players can stay healthy, continue to play well, or even improve, it will definitely boost the Cowboys chances of success going forward.