No Tyron Smith (perennial All-Pro left tackle). No Tony Romo (4X Pro Bowler). No Dez Bryant (All-Pro receiver). No La'el Collins. No Orlando Scandrick. No DeMarcus Lawrence. No problem? Somehow, some way, the Cowboys dug deep inside to find the will to beat the San Francisco 49ers, 24-17.
As much as we wish it were a domination, we realize that no matter circumstances, teams rarely blow each other out in the NFL. As much that was talked about Rod Marinelli's history of success against a Chip Kelly's offense, he's now only 4-3 against the former Eagles' coach. Both of these coaches were very familiar with each other and it started with San Fran busting out a 14-0 lead.
The Cowboys walked into this game the better team and walked out the same way, but it didn't exactly come to them easy from the opening whistle. In the first half alone, one of the worst third-down teams in the league converted six of seven third downs. Whether it was Carlos Hyde or Blaine Gabbert, San Fran started out hot. What was more impressive than anything else was this Cowboys' team's resilience to stick to their gameplan when circumstances were stacked against them. After allowing six of seven on third downs in the first half, the Cowboys only allowed one of seven the rest of the game. This was the best defense the Cowboys had played since week one.
The statistics don't show how good the young 49ers' defense can be. They got to Dak Prescott early in the contest and threw him off a few times which was something that certain experts like Bryan Broaddus predicted. As awful as they can be at defending the run, the were able to give Prescott some looks that he hadn't seen yet.
To his credit, Prescott was able to rally and get his offense rolling in the second quarter. Down two scores, Prescott connected with Terrance Williams for his first touchdown and with time winding down before the half, Dak found Brice Butler for his first score of the year.
The 49ers would kick another field goal to go up by three but blood was already in the water. Dallas came out after gaining momentum before the half and never really let go. Ezekiel Elliott worked his way to 138 yards rushing and a touchdown. They began their domination on the ground and it ran San Fran out of the building. Once they were down, Gabbert threw a terrible ball that was intercepted by Morris Claiborne. Mo' would make another stop on fourth down that would effectively end the game and give Prescott his first come-from-behind win, 24-17.
It was a perfect ending to a hard week. All the controversy that was drummed up over the week made a win all the more important. Not a lot you can criticize about a team when they get the W. You can start the week using Jason Garrett and Dez Bryant as your punching bags but when Garrett wins the game missing some of his best players, be ready to praise him, too.
There was no doubt that Garrett was public enemy number one during the early portion of the week. However, credit is due for a man that doesn't "blink". It's true, he was able to keep his players engaged for a victory and did it with rookies and inexperienced players at the most important positions for this offense. These coaches did a great job at calling plays and their players didn't let them down.That was the point, Dallas did what they couldn't do last season, they finished games and guys made plays even though they weren't household names.
In this league, just find a way to win. Any problems you could possibly have will subside with wins. Big tests are on the horizon and they will present their own challenges, Still, without some key contributors, you have to be proud of how this team responded and that mental toughness can be the difference between winning and losing. So far, the Dallas Cowboys have been on the right side of that battle.