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The Cowboys win over the Lions saves their season, for now

It was close, but the Cowboys are back in the thick of things in the NFL.

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

If you squint a little bit, the Dallas Cowboys team on the field against the Detroit Lions looked a little like 2016. They aren’t there yet as one game does not make a trend, and the Lions have certain deficiencies on defense like stopping the run. Still, in the Cowboys 26-24 win, the Cowboys offense put up over 400 yards of offense and relied on a familiar formula. Ezekiel Elliott running the ball down the opposition’s throat, and Dak Prescott with efficient passing, plus hitting some explosive plays to propel the team to points.

The Cowboys defense has started to take on a little water, especially the secondary which had some busted coverages along with some poor effort at times. Plus, they suffered through some extraordinary catches by the Lions receivers. But DeMarcus Lawrence did his part with three sacks and with eight overall tackles to lead the team. The defense did enough so that a rejuvenated offense could close it out. The man to close it out? Brett Maher, who booted four field goals on the day, none more important than the game-winner with time running out.

Dak Prescott looked like a different player, confident in the pocket, hitting crucial third downs and looking deep more than once. He bookended a long pass to Michael Gallup early with a long pass to Ezekiel Elliott late, the last one setting up the game-winner. Prescott received excellent protection all day, so his 118.6 rating was well-earned, but also was the beneficiary of that work up front by the Cowboys line.

Ezekiel Elliott was the star, though. He did it on the ground and through the air, and took a beating along the way. Elliott had to come out of the game multiple times with aches and pains, but he kept stepping back into the arena and made the big plays when his team need ed them most.

The Dak and Zeke show, with nice complementary play from the receivers and the offensive line, remind us of how the Cowboys did it during their 13-3 season in 2016. Power running, efficient passing, and just enough explosive plays to put points on the board. Rely on a defense that does just enough to help win the game, and you get victories. For one week, the Cowboys looked like their old selves. Now, can they do it again, and again.

This win puts the Cowboys right back in the thick of the playoff race. With the Eagles losing to the Titans today, the Cowboys are tied with Philadelphia and Washington with two wins, although Washington is on a bye so will lead the division at 2-1 (the Giants are still playing). It’s just that crazy from week to week in the NFL, especially in the first month of the season. Dallas hits the quarter mark of the 2018 season at 2-2, but feeling much better about themselves after rediscovering their identity. The trick is to continue that. They have a winnable game next week against the Texans.

Are they back on track, or was this just a one-week reprieve?

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