The 5-1 Dallas Cowboys are legit after beating up the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. And naturally, Dak Prescott is at the center of the conversation.
Jerry Jones used to be unequivocal about who would be the starting QB once Tony Romo is healthy. Nowadays his answers are a little more nuanced.
Naturally, that leads to the question of the moment: Will Dak Prescott continue to be at the wheel or will he relinquish his seat to Romo once the veteran quarterback is healthy?
Can Jones say unequivocally that Prescott will start against Philadelphia to end this month even if Romo ready?
"I wouldn't say unequivocally anything other than we just beat the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay,'' Jones said. "That's great.''
Jerry made other statements after the game that could lead one to believe the Cowboys are pondering riding Dak Prescott even if Romo is recovered. You can definitely perceive a softening in the “Romo is the starter” position.
Prescott finally set a record, passing Tom Brady, but did also finally throw an interception.
Prescott completed 18 of 27 passes for 247 yards with three touchdowns, an interception and a 117.4 passer rating, giving the Cowboys only their second victory ever at Lambeau Field.
Prescott’s first career interception came on his 177th career attempt, setting an NFL record for the most pass attempts without a pick to start a career.
“I moved a little bit to my right, should have set my feet, kind of rolled, [Jason] Witten was turning in. I think he’s turning back,” Prescott said of Morgan Burnett’s third-quarter pick. “It was bad on my part. Witten was doing the right thing. I just made a bad throw. It happens. Get that out the way now.
“…So start another one up.”
It’s getting repetitive, but you can’t talk about Dak Prescott without talking about his running mate, Ezekiel Elliott. Zeke blasted the Packers rushing defense and is on pace to have a record rookie year.
Oh, just a season-high 157 yards on 28 carries, including rushes of 29 and 25 yards.
And they came against the Green Bay Packers, who entered Sunday with the NFL's top rushing defense, having allowed a total of 171 rushing yards in four games, an average of 42.8 yards per game and 2.0 yards per carry.
As a whole, Dallas totaled 191 rushing yards on 33 carries and averaged 5.8 yards per carry in the Cowboys' 30-16 victory.
The Cowboys rushing attack is the envy of the league.
Who everybody thinks they are is the best rushing offense in the National Football League, a notion reinforced by Sunday’s remarkable display. Led by Elliott, who finished with 157 yards on 28 carries, his fourth consecutive game with 100 yards or more, the Cowboys dismembered a run defense that sat atop nearly every statistical category. The historic four-game start by the Packers was immolated at the hands of a tenacious offensive line that mauled them early and abused them late.
It was everything the Packers had seen on film, according to outside linebackers Datone Jones and Julius Peppers, and the Cowboys are adamant that no team can stop them.
Such belief overflowed inside the visitor’s locker room, where smiles and laughter were bountiful, even for wide receiver Dez Bryant, who gladly entertained questions from the media despite the fact that he did not play.
A few feet away from Bryant, near the back of the room, two players chortled as they discussed the vaunted run defense of the Packers. Two yards per carry? An average of 40 yards allowed per game? They smirked. And then they laughed.
“I told you them stats were screwy,” one player said. “That (expletive) wasn’t true.”
But as much as we talk about Dak and Zeke, what is becoming obvious is that this is a team effort by the Cowboys everybody is doing their part.
Early in the fourth quarter, after the Cowboys had responded yet again to push the lead up to three scores, I received a random text message from a college friend.
There was no “Hey, what’s up,” or “Wow, can you believe this game?” It was just four simple words:
“I love this team!!!”
And he’s not alone. Cowboys fans have no other choice but to love what they’re seeing and to love this team because that’s exactly what they’ve become.
Everywhere you look, players are making plays and the chemistry is off the charts.
Even the coaches are part of the winning ways.
COACHING -- A
I continue to be amazed at how much this coaching staff believes in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. They allow them to make plays and put them in a position to win in an aggressive posture that was usually reserved for Tony Romo. With these two rookies, the coaching staff seems to have been given an injection of courage and, at times, ruthlessness that a Jason Garrett staff has never exhibited. I credit this staff for realizing what these guys are capable of, because these same coaches brought the Cowboys into Lambeau last December and never tried anything remotely risky. This staff refused to allow a shred of mercy to a scrambling Green Bay defense.
While everybody has been putting down the Cowboys defense, they have quietly become an essential part of the success of this team. People should start taking notice.
In Sunday's 30-16 win -- Dallas' fifth straight -- the Cowboys so frustrated Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers' offense that the Lambeau Field faithful took to booing the quarterback in the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys threatened to keep the Packers out of the end zone altogether, which would have been the first time since the 2007 season opener when Brett Favre was the quarterback and Rodgers was a backup and Green Bay didn't score an offensive touchdown at home. But the Cowboys relented with 6:53 to play.
They held the Packers to 16 points and they got four turnovers.
“I can’t remember a game like this where we had so many big plays,” said Barry Church, the seventh-year safety. “We were flying all over the place stripping guys. It was a great show.”
The worst turnovers belonged to Rodgers, who decided to amble into the middle of the line after checking to a quarterback draw. With first and goal at the 1 the Packers were in an unlikely empty formation, but when defensive tackle Terrell McClain flushed Rodgers into defensive end David Irving the ball came out and Irving recovered.
“All week our defensive line was working on slapping the ball out of his (Rodgers’) hands because we felt like his ball security wasn’t that good,” Church said.
Ouch. Just as bad was the pass that Rodgers threw inside to Randall Cobb at the Dallas 40 that went directly to Church for an interception. Rodgers said he didn’t see Church, but he certainly should have.
“We were in man coverage and I had the tight end in man,” said Church. “But he stayed in and blocked so I kind of got low and hid in the weeds.”
One scary moment was when Sean Lee laid out Morris Claiborne. Luckily, Mo should be okay.
Claiborne said afterward that he felt better and expected to be ready to play after the Cowboys’ bye week.
“I feel good right now,” Claiborne said. “Honestly, walking off the field I had a headache but it’s eased up. My balance and everything is good. Nothing has bothered me, so I feel good.”
The Cowboys were also without Orlando Scandrick, but they were able to shift the versatile Byron Jones into the nickel spot at corner and the defense rolled on.
After the break, the Cowboys should get a huge weapon back.
If Dez Bryant had his way, he would have played Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
When the Dallas Cowboys return after their bye to play the Philadelphia Eagleson Oct. 30 at AT&T Stadium, Bryant said there will be no more waiting.
He will play.
"Check me out at 7:30, man," Bryant said, alluding to the Central time kickoff against the Eagles. "I already told (team physician Dr. Dan Cooper) what the deal was."