Here are the top 5 defensive plays for this week. Yes, I somehow managed to find five good defensive plays. Vote for the best one.
Adrian Clayborn sacks Tony Romo, forces a fumble, Dekoda Watson recovers and returns for a touchdown
This was clearly the play of the game, and it really isn't close. For once, the defense did what it was supposed to do and held up in on the backend. And for once, the defense got to Tony Romo - and managed to get him down before he could scramble.
As the Bucs were down 28-0 at the time, this touchdown gaves the Bucs a little life, although that turned out to be nothing but false hope. It also showed Adrian Clayborn's skill as a pass rusher: he runs around Doug Free with relative easy, and Romo doesn't feel him coming as he's scrambling away. Clayborn does a great job of going for the ball with his hand, stripping Tony Romo while still bringing him down - and Dekoda Watson gets to run it into the endzone while being escorted by Ronde Barber. A great play all around.
Michael Bennett sacks Tony Romo
2-8-TB 30 0:29 - (10:51) T.Romo sacked at TB 39 for -6 yards (M.Bennett).
This play is notable for two reasons: it shines a light on Michael Bennett, and Tyron Smith got beat. The play is very simple, really: Michael Bennett gets around Tyron Smith - which is pretty impressive - and then manages to get Tony Romo down as he had set up a little too deep in the pocket.
Tyron Smith was the 10th overall pick in the past draft, and has been a fixture at right tackle for the Cowboys this season. He's already one of the best right tackles in the NFL, and should really move to left tackle pretty soon. Given all that, it's nice to see Michael Bennett flash against him. Especially so because Bennett has been a very consistent performer at defensive end, especially against the run.
Daniel Te'O Nesheim smacks Tony Romo
2-5-TB 9 (4:55) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short right to J.Witten [D.Te'o-Nesheim
This play happened on the third Cowboys possession, just one play before he threw for another touchdown. Not on this play, however, as recently added second-year player Daniel Te'O Nesheim made his presence felt by laying a beatdown on Tony Romo, which combined with Ronde Barber getting in Romo's face forced an incomplete pass.
Michael Bennett and Mason Foster tackle Felix Jones for a loss
2-1-TB 4 (:50) (Shotgun) F.Jones right tackle to TB 5 for -1 yards (M.Bennett, M.Foster)
Once again, this happened near the Bucs goal-line as the Cowboys tried to run it in near the end of the half. The Cowboys tried a power play against the Bucs, but Michael Bennett blew by the tight end, pushed back and then shed the pulling guard and shut this play down before it could develop. Mason Foster came in to finish off the tackle.
Da'Quan Bowers forces a hold from Tyron Smith
1-10-DAL 20 (15:00) F.Jones right end to DAL 29 for 9 yards (G.Hayes).
PENALTY on DAL-T.Smith, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at DAL 20 - No Play
Bowers wasn't on the field much this game, but he did make his presence felt on one play. The Cowboys try to run an outside zone play with Felix Jones which is actually pretty effective, but a holding penalty turns it into a nine-yard loss instead. That holding penalty was forced by Bowers, who got into the backfield so quickly that Tyron Smith had no choice but to drag the defensive end down.
Of course, I do have to say that it looked like Bowers was out of his gap here. The tackle wants to cross Bowers' face and wall him off to the inside, and as Bowers just goes for the inside move anyway that's exactly what happens. Fortunately for the Bucs Bowers was so quick that he would have impacted the play had it not been for that hold.