The Dallas Cowboys played one of their best games of the season in the Wild Card round and got rewarded with their first road playoff win since 1992.
It was almost 30 years to the date — Jan. 17, 1993 — the last time the Cowboys won a road playoff game. That victory came at Candlestick Park when Dallas defeated the 49ers.
Now, the Cowboys will have the opportunity to beat the 49ers yet again on the road in the postseason. But it won’t come as easy as the Buccaneers’ victory on Monday.
The 49ers have the making of a Super Bowl contender. Their offense has been among the best in the NFL the past two months, even with 7th-round rookie Brock Purdy.
With Purdy under center, the 49ers have scored 30-plus points in six of seven games that the rookie quarterback has appeared in. He’s also 6-0 as a starter to begin his career and has done his job of getting the ball to his playmakers, Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle.
Then on the defensive end, the 49ers might have one of the best all-around defenses. Their run defense ranks second in rush yards per game (79.2) and they’re holding opposing teams to just 3.4 yards on the ground.
The Cowboys might have a hard time establishing the run in this game. But if offensive coordinator Kellen Moore can call an offensive plan like he did last week, Dallas should be in good shape to compete against a physical 49ers team.
And like every game, the Cowboys are going to need players to have big performances to help carry them to victory as underdogs. Last week Dak Prescott, Micah Parsons, and Israel Mukuamu really stepped up when it mattered.
This week, these three players must step up for the Cowboys to come away with the upset victory on the road.
These Cowboys need big performances against the 49ers
3. Trevon Diggs
There’s no doubt that the 49ers have some talented weapons on offense and the Cowboys’ secondary is going to have their hands full on Sunday. But, the one cornerback that will need to show out is Trevon Diggs.
The last time these two teams faced off was in the Wild Card round last season where the Cowboys lost 23-17. Diggs lined up primarily with Brandon Aiyuk in that matchup and Aiyuk led the team in catches (5) and yards (66). The Cowboys’ Pro Bowl corner is hoping to change that this time around.
But if the Cowboys want to stop the 49ers’ threats on the outside, Diggs is going to have to be much better than he was on Monday against the Buccaneers.
Diggs was solid early on in coverage against Mike Evans; though his tackling could have used some help on Monday. Despite making almost all of his tackles in the regular season, he missed what could have been two big tackles early in the game.
On a 3rd-and-7 late in the first quarter, Diggs missed Buccaneers’ running back Rachaad White on an open field tackle leading to a first down.
Then, on the same drive, he tries to hit Mike Evans low on a 3rd-and-6 reception. But instead of tackling him, Diggs just tries to “hit-stick” Evans, who would eventually rumble for another 4-5 yards.
Again, the Cowboys cornerback has been solid all year when it comes to tackling, but he’s going to need to show out in this one in all aspects of his game. It’s also been a while since his last interception, so this could be a prime opportunity for Diggs to step up against a rookie quarterback.