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Cowboys News: Dak Is Back, David Irving Emerges As A Force

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All the news that’s fit to print after a key Cowboys win.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

So the big news is that the Cowboys have started a new winning streak. Last week’s loss sent the fanbase into a little bit of a panic, but order was restored with a 26-20 win over the Bucs. Let’s check out the news.

Cowboys Come Back, Defeat Buccaneers 26-20 - BTB, Tom Ryle

The Dallas Cowboys came into the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers needing to answer a lot of questions on offense, but with the defense playing very well. The offense answered most, but not all of the questions, and after having a bad stretch coming out of halftime, the defense shut Tampa Bay down. The Cowboys won the turnover battle and had more sacks. And at the end, Dallas escaped with a 26-20 win, their two game lead over the New York Giants for the NFC East crown intact, and renewed faith in the ability of Dak Prescott, who had very productive night. He competed a superb 32 of 36 passes for 279 yards and added a touchdown with his legs.

It took a team effort to secure the win. The Cowboys suffered from some crucial penalties that put them behind the chains again, but they managed to show their resiliency and pull out the much-needed win.

The controversy over Dak Prescott is now whether he's Cowboys MVP - DMN, Tim Cowlishaw

One of the keys to the win was the return of Dak Prescott to form. He had the second-highest completion percentage in the NFL for a QB who had over 30 attempts in a game. And he played mistake free ball.

Prescott had the second most efficient passing game in Cowboys history. His 32-for-36 evening (88.9 percent) ranks second only to a Tony Romo 90 percent game (18 of 20) against Indianapolis two years ago.

"A lot of really good decisions, a lot of really good throws,'' coach Jason Garrett said. "He's someone who has handled every situation really, really well. He's handled success, he's handled adversity. He understands what we're trying to do.''

Prescott also played as error-free a game as you are likely to see. No interceptions, no fumbles, no bad mistakes. Heck, his worst moment was either missing Cole Beasley on a first quarter scramble or coming up just short of a first down on the Cowboys' final third down of the game and being forced to punt.

5 thoughts after Cowboys' 26-20 win over Bucs: What QB controversy? Sorry, Romo; job belongs to Prescott - DMN, Jon Machota

After last week when the Cowboys receivers couldn’t shake the Giants secondary, this week everyone got open.

Prescott seemed to get everyone involved. Eight receivers each caught at least one pass from the rookie QB. As he should, Dez Bryant led the group with 10 targets and eight catches for 63 yards. A lot of credit should also go to offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who did a good job mixing things up as well. Prescott was an outstanding 32 of 36 for 279 yards and a 99.0 passer rating.

Dez Bryant had a very nice game. Jason Witten was a boss (except for the uncharacteristic fumble). But the big gun on offense, was...

Cowboys respond to adversity, win over Bucs puts first-round bye within reach - DMN, David Moore

Zeke!

Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 159 yards and made a deposit in the Salvation Army kettle by jumping in after his second quarter touchdown.

"It makes the game a little easier for me," Prescott said of Elliott's dominance on the ground. "It helps the offense overall."

The NFL's leading rusher gained 78 yards in the fourth quarter, a far cry from the last week's game against the Giants when he lost a yard on four carries. That reversal and a spirited defensive effort in the fourth secured the win.

Elliott was a dominating force on the field and once the Cowboys decided to keep feeding him, good things happened.

Game Recap: Cowboys Bounce Back to Beat the Bucs, 26-20 - The Mothership, Kurt Daniels

For all the good things that Dak, Zeke and the rest of the offense did, it was the defense that saved the day.

But when things looked bleak, when the Buccaneers seemingly had all the momentum, it was the defense that held its ground and got the Cowboys back in the game. For the third week in a row, and 10th time this season, Dallas held its opponent to no more than 20 points. Tampa Bay finished with 276 yards of total offense, were 4-of-12 on third downs and were limited to just 23:56 in time of possession, the Cowboys dominating with a 36:04 mark.

The Cowboys defense seems for real.

Cowboys-Buccaneers highlights: Rookies Elliott, Prescott again star - Star-Telegram

A few of the defensive highlights.

Cowboys secondary: The unit came up with three interceptions. Orlando Scandrick’s interception with 24 seconds sealed the win. Byron Jones and Jeff Heath also had interceptions. Heath’s interception set up a fourth-quarter field goal.

Cowboys defensive line: David Irving had two sacks, two tackles for loss and two tackles. Terrell McClain had a sack and two tackles. Maliek Collins had a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Go Ahead, Doubt Him: Dak Prescott silences skeptics as Cowboys end Bucs' win streak - Sports Illustrated, Jonathan Jones

But the real star on defense? David Irving owned the fourth quarter.

Prescott’s play and Elliott’s playfulness will be discussed more than anything from Sunday night, but David Irving got himself known in the fourth quarter. The former undrafted free agent out of Iowa State had two sacks, five quarterback hits and wrecked Tampa Bay’s hopes for a comeback in the fourth quarter. Concerns about Dallas’s defense holding up into January are legitimate, but Irving will alleviate a lot of defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s worries going forward.

With DeMarcus Lawrence out and Cedric Thornton out, it was a concern about the defensive line. But they played well, and Irving had another crazy game like he did against the Packers.

Randy Gregory Ruled Eligible to Play for Cowboys in Week 16 vs. Lions - Bleacher Report

The Cowboys could get an extra body on the defensive line next week.

According to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, defensive end Randy Gregory is eligible to return next week after being under suspension for the entire 2016 season to this point, per David Helman of the team's official site.

Gregory was suspended 10 games due to a failed drug test and added to his suspension with another failed test in November.

The Cowboys (12-2) face the Detroit Lions in Week 16 and can clinch the NFC East—and No. 1 seed in the conference—with a win.

NFL Playoff Picture: Cowboys Need One Game For Home-Field Advantage Throughout Playoffs - BTB

The Cowboys need just one more win in their final two games and they will clinch the best record in the NFC. The only team in contention to catch them are the Giants. They won their game over the Detroit Lions, Dallas’ next opponent, to keep the heat on the Cowboys. With another win, Dallas will finally close out the NFC East crown along with grabbing home-field advantage. The same is true if the Giants lose one of their final two games. They play the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night, then finish the season with Washington, who are still in contention and are currently the sixth-seed in the NFC. Dallas finishes by hosting the Lions on Monday night, then traveling to play Philadelphia in the final game.

One more win and the Cowboys stay at home during the playoffs.

Years from now, this win over the Bucs will be remembered from one thing. Zeke’s Christmas donation.