In many ways the Cowboys played a perfect game. Their offense lit up the scoreboard, their defense stifled their opponent, and their special teams were perfect. For crying out loud, their first punt that actually counted didn’t happen until their first possession of the second half.
Dallas needed this win, but it’s too large to call it a bounce-back game. This victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars serves as the example of the positive end of their spectrum. If everything goes perfectly for them, like it basically did against the Jags, they are capable of winning 40-7.
How perfectly did things go? What was perfect exactly? I’m glad you asked. Welcome to BTB’s five winners, five losers, and the meat in between those slices of bread. Let’s go.
Winner: The idea that Dak Prescott is still a legitimate QB1
Sunday against the Jaguars was one of the best games that Dak Prescott has ever played. Prescott finished with 82 yards rushing which was almost double his previous career-high of 45 which coincidentally came during this season’s home opener a month ago.
Dak’s dominance wasn’t so much about the statistics he racked up or the touchdowns that he compiled, it was about his level of poise and control throughout the game. It truly was Dak’s game to be had, and he guided the team to an impressive victory.
We’ve known forever that opposing teams are going to key on Ezekiel Elliott, they’re going to make the Cowboys beat them with Dak Prescott. Jacksonville dared Dallas and boy are they sorry that they did. It was encouraging.
Winner: Jaylon Smith, Jaylon Smith, and Jaylon Smith
We all know the gamble that the Cowboys took in the second round two years ago with Jaylon Smith. It is literally paying off. He’s playing like a madman.
Defensively almost every decision the Cowboys have made looks brilliant, to be honest. Jaylon does indeed look like a godbacker, Byron Jones is playing cornerback at an elite level, Leighton Vander Esch looks well beyond his years, and the defensive line is wreaking havoc all over the place. The Hot Boyz have friends and everyone is awesome.
Jaylon is fast. He’s instinctive. He’s got closing speed. He can hit. He can force turnovers. He can literally do anything and it’s just so incredible to see.
Winner: Jourdan Lewis’ ability to be at the right spot at the right time
Two weeks ago the Cowboys inserted cornerback Jourdan Lewis for a snap against the Detroit Lions. It seemed harmless and was actually a breath of fresh air for the large contingency of folks petitioning for Lewis to get more playing time.
Unfortunately, Jourdan got smoked by Golden Tate on his first bit of action which was not the most promising way to earn himself more snaps; however, we’ve seen more from the second-year player over the last two weeks.
Listen to a one-on-one with Jourdan on BTB’s OchoLive with sounds from the locker room
In his last two games, Jourdan Lewis has recovered a fumble in each of them. That’s literally a trend and it’s a very good one especially for someone who needs more playing time. Having generated turnovers listed next to your name is a way to impress and Lewis has definitely done so.
Winner: Good fortune as it relates to the Cowboys
I’m a firm believer that in addition to doing things better than your opponent and all that obvious jazz that you have to get some luck in order to win a football game.
Luck can be a lot of things. It can be a penalty, an avoided interception, you name it and it can be lucky. The Cowboys played spectacularly against Jacksonville, but they also caught some breaks. Look at this Dak Prescott fumble, for example.
Dak is PG1 material pic.twitter.com/h0uA0WumxO— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) October 14, 2018
That ball doesn’t bounce right back into Dak Prescott’s arms if it simply isn’t the Cowboys day. Good on them for capitalizing on it. Good on them for embracing luck.
Winner: Those who like sauce on everything
Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley had some interesting comments on social media last week, but when it came time for business against the Jaguars he was ready to roll (sauce is very good on rolls, btw).
Cole tied his career high in catches (9) and recorded his second game ever with over 100 receiving yards. He also had two gorgeous touchdowns, the first time since the Kansas City game last season where he scored twice.
DAK TO COLE FOR THE TOUCHDOWN WE BACK pic.twitter.com/A0ofSIJ9ZP— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) October 14, 2018
DID ANYBODY HAVE TWO ORDERS OF SAUCE pic.twitter.com/ZoHuJs1PQw— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) October 14, 2018
Cole Beasley is part of what is going to make this offense continue to go. Seeing him as active as he was is a great sign.
Loser: Quarterbacks that have to face the finally reunited Cowboys defensive line
We got to see DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, and Randy Gregory all rush together for the first time in forever on Sunday. It was amazing, well, except for Blake Bortles.
GOODNESS DAVID IRVING pic.twitter.com/sdFDQNdx4S— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) October 14, 2018
A lot can happen and football is tricky business so there are no guarantees that this unit will necessarily all play together the remaining 10 games of the season. For proper perspective, consider that DeMarcus Lawrence even played limited snaps in this very game.
The point here is that this defensive line is very bit as amazing as we all imagined. It’s real. Tangible. There are legitimate possibilities that can be attained here. We made it!
Loser: Allen Hurns and his reliability
Last week may have been when Allen Hurns realized the difference between being on the Jaguars and being on the Cowboys when his comments regarding Scott Linehan created a bit of a stir.
You’d imagine that Hurns would have come out and put on a show in order to justify his own points, game, or whatever, but that simply wasn’t the case. Allen Hurns didn’t have a single catch against his former team and it certainly wasn’t due to a lack of trying.
Did you know that Dak Prescott targeted Allen five times against Jacksonville? The wide receiver failed to haul in even a single one of them which marks only the second time in his short career that he’s gone catch-less in an NFL game. Coincidentally in the last instance he was targeted four times. You’ve got to be having quite the bad day to go 0/4 or 0/5, but somehow Allen has done both since November of 2016.
Loser: The idea that a team can shut Ezekiel Elliott out for a whole game
Opposing defense are going to sell out to stop Ezekiel Elliott, it’s just a fact of life at this point. For almost the entire first half it didn’t quite look like the Jaguars were succeeding here, it just like they were minimizing damage as best as they could.
That all changed in the second half. Things finally started clicking and things got rolling quite nicely for Zeke. He even scored which is good for the odds of winning, I hear.
Feed him. Feed him everything.
Loser: The Jacksonville Jaguars defense and Jalen Ramsey
The Dallas Cowboys may not have the best defense in the NFL (they might, though), but their unit is at the very least better than the one they destroyed on Sunday.
Everybody in the entire world assumed the Jaguars had the better defense before kickoff happened at AT&T Stadium and the Cowboys spent 60 minutes proving them all wrong. Xavier Woods, quiet in nature, even jokingly asked Kris Richard if Jacksonville really was the best after the game.
The Jaguars still have an insanely talented defense, and part of what makes them so good is their swagger and confidence. There’s no doubt that these were bruised in Dallas which was more evident in cornerback Jalen Ramsey than anyone else.
Uncut Jalen Ramsey postgame: pic.twitter.com/xwmKO9ok0y— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) October 15, 2018
Loser: Any thought that the Cowboys were going to quit on the season
It was easy to feel down about the Cowboys after their overtime flub in Houston. The way they lost more than that they lost is what made last week feel so unbearable.
There will be those that scoff at this, but it says an awful lot about what Jason Garrett is able to do that his team came out and hung 40 points on one of the more impressive defenses in the NFL in what was practically a do-or-die game. They all went to bat and they all hit home runs.
The Cowboys are developing a bit of a swagger these days. They’re finding their collective identity, they’re settling into what makes them comfortable as a group, and they’re doing all of this at an opportune time.
We talked about five winners and five losers here, but the truth is that when a score is 40-7 there are really only winners and in this case they are the Dallas Cowboys. This is going to be a great week for them riding some positive momentum, but they still face a tough road game in the division before the bye week.
In many ways it will be more fascinating to see how Dallas actually handles this week versus what they did to make this week so pleasant to begin with. We’ve now seen that they can have success, the most important question is whether or not they can sustain it.
What do you think?