After a rough couple of weeks, the Dallas Cowboys used a fast start en route to a 37-10 win over the Philidelphia Eagles to move to 4-3 on the season. With improvements across the board heading into the bye week here are the four biggest takeaways from tonight’s win.
1. Fast Start
I said it in the lead but theres little doubt how key it was in terms of early momentum. On the Eagles, opening drive linebacker Jaylon Smith forced a fumble that was recovered by tackle Malik Collins at the Eagles 45-yard line. Six players later wide reviever Tavon Austin found himself in the endzone on a touchdown run off of an option play, another new wrinkle under new Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore. Not to be outdone on the next drive star defensive end Demarcus Lawrence forced a fumble of his own on a strip-sack, his first sack in 10 games against Philly, that was recovered by tackle Antwaun Woods. Two plays later running back Ezekiel Elliott punched it in from two yards out giving the Cowboys a 14-0 lead 8:56 in the first quarter. Fast starts like this will be huge moving forward.
2. Ezekiel Elliott
Life’s good when Zeke is good. Or at least it is to Cowboys fans. He finished with 22 carries for 111 yards and one touchdown while adding six catches for 36 yards. Most importantly he helped restore balance to an offense that had become pass-happy. It must be noted though a previously banged-up offensive line got stalwart tackles, Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, back and that made a world of difference as Elliott could run both inside and out. More balance equals more yards and more points.
The unit entered with five turnovers in the first six games. They left with nine. Three forced fumbles and a Xavier Woods interception capped off probably the best defensive outing of the season. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was held to under 200 yards passing and was sacked three times. Running back Jordan Howard, the third leading rusher a season ago was held to just 50 yards on 11 carries. On the day the Eagles totaled just 283 yards of offense including 3-of-9 on third downs and 0-of-2 in the red zone. Performances like this will go a long way to helping this team win games down the stretch.
4. Dak Prescott
Despite a forced deep shot interception, Prescott had another fine day guiding the offense to 37 points and 402 yards of offense. For his part, he finished an efficient 21-of-27 passing for 239 yards and a touchdown along with adding 30 yards and a score on the ground. He also did a good job of getting multiple players envolved as star receiver Amari Cooper had five catches for 106 yards but fellow receivers Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb each had more than two catches and even tight end Jason Witten had four. More games like this will definitely force Owner Jerry Jones’s hand when it comes to contract talks.
Honorable Mention- Brett Maher
Kudos to Maher for not only nailing a 63-yard field goal but for becoming the only kicker in NFL history to hit multiple 60-yard field goals in a single season. Say what you will about the Cowboys, they know kickers.