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Cowboys News: Dak Prescott Leads Red-Hot Cowboys With "The Calmness Of A Tibetan Monk."

Latest Cowboys headlines: Dak Prescott is NFL's MVP so far; Aikman says "defense 100 percent capable of winning Super Bowl"; can Steelers slow down Ezekiel Elliott?

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Prescott, red-hot Cowboys visit struggling Steelers - Will Graves, Shreveport Times
Graves compares Prescott's situation to where the Steelers were with rookie Ben Roethlisberger in 2004.

Back in 2004 it was Roethlisberger who was the hot rookie, pairing with Jerome Bettis and the NFL’s top-ranked defense to rip off 13 straight wins after replacing injured Tommy Maddox while leading the Steelers to the AFC title game. Now it’s Dak Prescott, the 23-year-old who has rapidly evolved from fourth-round flyer to perhaps indispensable part of the team that reached midseason atop the NFC.

There is one big difference.

While Roethlisberger was asked to serve primarily as a game manager and let the defense do the work — he only passed for more than 200 yards three times as a rookie — Prescott has been asked to do more. In some ways, a lot more. He’s on pace to go over 4,000 yards passing and has made Tony Romo, who happens to be the franchise’s all-time passing leader, a $20 million backup.

"He’s not just managing games, he’s taking games over and doing some pretty awesome stuff," Roethlisberger said of Prescott. "It’s fun to watch."

Tony Dungy reflects on the 1998 Vikings, a 15-1 team with their own Prescott vs. Romo-like question mark - Staff, SportsDay
Tony Dungy offered up another comparison for Prescott on The Dan Patrick Show recently.

I saw this in 1998. I was coaching the Tampa Bay Bucs. My good friend Dennis Green was coaching the Minnesota Vikings. Brad Johnson had taken them to the playoffs, and Brad Johnson's a good quarterback. He got hurt, and Randall Cunningham stepped in.

And Dennis said, 'You can't lose your job by injury. As soon as Brad's ready to go he will be back in the lineup.'

Randall Cunningham got hot as a firecracker. And that doctor just seemed to not put Brad Johnson at 100 percent for a long time. Dennis kept saying he's not quite there, he's almost ready - as Randall throws four more touchdown passes - he's almost ready, he's almost ready. And they went 15-1.

You can't take a guy out who is playing this well and is this hot. So, they're doing the right thing with Tony Romo. Take your time - now, you may need him - Prescott may hit a slump, something may happen, but you're on an eight- or nine-game winning streak, it really doesn't make sense to take the quarterback out.

Cowboys' young gun Dak Prescott has old man's job - Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Dulac with an ode to Prescott.

Pressed into service because of an injury to four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo, Prescott has won seven games in a row since an opening-game loss to the New York Giants — a streak exceeded by only two other rookie quarterbacks since the 1970 merger. What’s more, he has exhibited the calm of a Tibetan monk while leading one of the league’s high-profile franchises, throwing only two interceptions in 248 attempts and transforming the Cowboys into one of just three teams who are unbeaten on the road this season (4-0).

Prescott is one of six rookie quarterbacks who have already started a game in the first half of the 2016 season, and the list doesn’t even include the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams.

Consider the ages of the marquee quarterbacks around the league. Tom Brady is 39, Drew Brees is 37, Romo and Carson Palmer are 36, Manning is 35, Roethlisberger and Rivers are 34, Aaron Rodgers will be 33 in December, Alex Smith is 32. Then you have $100 million quarterbacks such as Jay Cutler (33), Matt Ryan (31) and Joe Flacco (31) who are in the over-30 club. Who will replace them?

If the Cowboys moved on from Romo, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Quarterbacks with more impressive resumes have been replaced by younger guns, going back to when the San Francisco 49ers replaced Joe Montana, a four-time Super Bowl winner, with Steve Young. In 1993, the 49ers traded Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he played two more seasons.

Dak Prescott is NFL's MVP so far, so no need for Cowboys to rush Tony Romo - Jarrett Bell, USA Today
Bell makes a case for why Prescott is deserving of MVP consideration.

The way I see it, no player in the NFL has been more valuable than the super-efficient Prescott, a fourth rounder from Haughton High School and Mississippi State seemingly sent from the heavens.

Others in the MVP conversation have better numbers. But imagine where the Cowboys would be without Prescott. We saw that last year, when Tony Romo’s twice-fractured collarbone redefined Big D as Big Distress. The Cowboys finished 4-12 in 2015, 1-11 without Romo.

Now? Their 7-1 record is the NFC's best.

That’s a starting point for Prescott getting props as my midseason MVP, ahead of Matt Ryan, Derek Carr and, yes, Tom Brady.

Former teammate Jon Kitna wants to see Tony Romo play for the Cowboys again - Staff, SportsDay
Jon Kitna has a lot of sympathy for Romo.

Q: Do you think Tony Romo sees the field again this season?

Kitna: That's a hard question to ask and to answer, honestly. They're in there all the time. So, we see two percent of everything that they see, and the effect that it has in your locker room.

Personally, I want to see Tony play because you look at his last 16 games when he was healthy - pretty dang good. And he's worked really hard to get to this point, and he's worked through some lean years in terms of where they were at count wise, and now to have this kind of team around him and everybody's healthy - I'd love to see him get the chance play. But they're going to make the decision that's best for the team.


Twitter Mailbag - Hot start against weak teams? - Todd Archer, ESPN
Archer answers a question about whether the Cowboys owe their 7-1 record to weak opponents.

I don't think so. Look, every team in the division plays the same 14 teams. The only difference is two conference foes that finished in the same place in the standings in 2015. So the Cowboys have played San Francisco and will play Tampa Bay. I guess that is something of an edge, but the Giants, Redskins and Eagles play the same teams in the AFC and NFC North. If the Cowboys were sneaking by some of these teams, then maybe I'd believe you were on to something, but they aren't. They won some of these games pretty handily. They are about to enter the toughest stretch of the season with Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, Minnesota and the Giants. If anything, the softer schedule has allowed the Cowboys to build up confidence in addition to wins.

It's also worth pointing out that some of these opponents look weaker in hindsight (and after having been beaten by the Cowboys) than they were at the time the Cowboys played them. The Cowboys were underdogs in four of the eight games they've played so far this year, and head into Pittsburgh as underdogs once more.

Date Opponent Spread Result Score
Week 1 vs NY Giants 1 L 20-19
Week 2 @ Washington 3 W 27-23
Week 3 vs Chicago -6.5 W 31-17
Week 4 @ San Francisco -1.5 W 24-17
Week 5 vs Cincinnati 2.5 W 28-14
Week 6 @ Green Bay 5.5 W 30-16
Week 8 vs Philadelphia -5 W 29-23
Week 9 @ Cleveland -7 W 35-10
Week 10 @ Pittsburgh 3 - - - -

Troy Aikman: Dallas is the best team I've seen this year; defense 100 percent capable of winning Super Bowl - Staff, SportsDay
Aikman recently joined 1310 The Ticket and said the team can "absolutely" make a deep playoff run with its defense.

"They're not just relying on the hot hand at quarterback being able to throw the ball. And then the defense being able to compliment [sic] that, I think it's a really good team. Dallas is the best team that I've seen this year on either side of the ball...

"Is Dallas capable of winning the Super Bowl with this defense? 100 percent. I don't think this is a team that has many holes. I think Jason, when he took over, he wanted to build a team like the teams he was a part of that won championships. It's taken some time because there had to be kind of a change of philosophy within the organization and a little bit of a commitment to what we represent and what are we but then the draft picks started to occur on the offensive line and more importantly, they hit on those guys. It's been pretty fun to watch this group comes together."


5 things to watch in Cowboys-Steelers game - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram
The game today could well hinge on how both teams perform on the ground.

Ezekiel Elliott has been everything the Cowboys could have hoped for when they selected him fourth overall, as he leads the league in rushing at the midway point. But the Steelers have held opponents to less than a 100-yard average, and the Cowboys will have their hands full in getting their ground attack going. Running the ball well has been a constant for the Cowboys during their seven-game winning streak.

How will the Steelers defense slow down Cowboys RB Elliott? - Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Great question. Let's see what the proposed answer is.

The Steelers have not done a good job recently slowing down running backs. Miami’s Jay Ajayi breezed by them for 204 yards. The next week, New England’s LeGarrette Blount hung 127 on them.

How do you stop the NFL’s top rusher if you cannot hold down Jay Ajayi?

"Be physical at the line of scrimmage, get penetration and we have to tackle well," said defensive end Cam Heyward. "It can’t just be arm tackles, it has to be body tackles, where you put your weight on him and it’s not one guy, it’s two guys, three guys. We have to rally to the ball."

Heyward was injured and missed those games against the Dolphins and Patriots, so that may have had something to do with it. He returned last Sunday in Baltimore and the Ravens managed just 50 yards rushing and a 1.9-yard average. But then, that’s what the Ravens do — they have the fifth-worst ground game in the NFL.

"That’s what we’re known for and that’s what we’re supposed to do," Shazier said of that effort to stop the run in Baltimore. "We knew that we did our job but we’re not patting ourselves on the back or anything like that because that’s what we’re required to do and we just weren’t doing our job a few weeks ago."

They will have to do it Sunday, or else.

Why the Dallas Cowboys are ripe for a letdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers - Cameron DaSilva, FOX Sports
The Cowboys are unlikely to finish the regular season 15-1, and they're likely to lose a game or two at some point. Could that come against the Steelers?

The Cowboys are bound for a letdown this season – a game where they simply don’t play up to their standards. This week appears to be that game. The Steelers are nearing must-win mode with the Ravens in first place and Roethlisberger won’t continue to lose games for his team. Dallas doesn’t need a win the way Pittsburgh does, and the Steelers’ sense of desperation will show.

Gut Feeling: All Four Writers Pick Cowboys For The Win - Dallas Cowboys
All four writers like the Cowboys' chances against the Steelers. Here's Bryan Broaddus, who expects a big day from Dez Bryant.

I really like the matchup of Dez Bryant working against Steelers rookie Artie Burns. I feel like the offensive plan will be to run the ball but also continue to spread it around among the weapons. Bryant will get his opportunities and they will be cleaner looks like he had against the Redskins earlier in the season. Bryant finishes the day with six catches for 103 yards and a touchdown in a Dallas victory, 28-24.


From the Fanposts Section

Aaron Singleton the Biggest Football Sacrifice - Blogging The Boys
Here's the moving story of Aaron Singleton, who died on November 3, 2016, after an injury suffered during a high school football game.

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