Three consecutive victories were followed by three consecutive losses — including one to the New York Jets. Once appearing to be in complete control of the NFC East, the Cowboys were letting the other three teams in the division hang around.
Needless to say, the Cowboys needed to go out on Sunday and not only get back in the win column, but to remind everybody who the best team in the NFC East really is.
Behind strong performances from Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and the defense creating turnovers, Dallas was able to do just that on Sunday Night Football in front of a prime time audience. Sure, there is a lot left to do this season, but Sunday was a huge step in the positive direction for the reigning NFC East champs.
The vibe surrounding the Dallas Cowboys is completely different now than what it was following a disappointing and surprising loss to the Jets. A dominant win over big rival heading into the bye week will do just that.
Simply put, the team needed this win. Not only to take the top stop in the division going into week eight, but for the overall morale of this team. Zeke’s 111-yard, one-touchdown performance was big in getting Dallas back on track.
Ezekiel Elliott: "This team needed this. This team definitely needed this win, especially in the fashion that we did it. Get some momentum for the season, get some momentum going into this bye week so we can close this season out right."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 21, 2019
The team believes that they have the talent to still have a special season. Prescott says that they “have a coach that believes in the guys that he has” and that “we’re a team that believes in themselves.
“I love that play call, and we executed it the right way,” Prescott said. “We have a coach that is aggressive. We have a coach that believes in our offense and believes in the guys that he has. We were in the situation last weekend, and we did the same thing. So, it’s just kind of who we are. We’re a team that believes in themselves.”
Feeling good after a win is normal and expected, but the best players on this team understand that they cannot let themselves feel too good. Amari Cooper doesn’t know if they proved much of anything after blowing out the Eagles.
Asked if the Cowboys proved anything to their detractors last night, Amari Cooper let us know that it’s #BacksToTheWallSzn— David Helman (@HelmanDC) October 21, 2019
That mantra worked well for them last year, so it’s not surprising they’d go back to it. pic.twitter.com/jY1IJvEDOL
Dak echoes the sentiment. He said after the game that “we’re gonna handle success the right way” moving forward so that the team does not have to be in a backs against the wall situation again.
"We're gonna handle success the right way so we don't have to get to this point." - Dak on the team 'needing' to have their backs against the wall to perform like this.— Jeff Cavanaugh (@JC1053) October 21, 2019
The team is behind Dak and everybody goes as he goes. That has been evident since Prescott took over the reigns back in 2016 and, most recently, when the team ran to his support on Sunday during his encounter with Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins.
ESPN’s Ed Werder believes that NFL executives should re-think their stance on the Dak versus Wentz argument, saying that “Prescott has outperformed Wentz by every measure so far”.
Carson Wentz was selected second in the 2016 draft. Dak Prescott went two days and 133 picks later. I believe most #NFL GMs would choose Wentz over Prescott - but I’m starting to think they would all be wrong. Prescott has outperformed Wentz by every measure so far.— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) October 21, 2019
Furthermore, Prescott is playing at an elite level this season, ranking among the top-5 in nearly every metric. The Cowboys quarterback is the only QB in the NFL to “outperform expectations in every game this season” according to Next Gen Stats:
Dak Prescott's receivers have 19 drops this season, per @PFF, T-most in the NFL— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) October 21, 2019
Adjusting @dak's receivers' drop rate (10%) for league average (7%), Prescott's completion percentage above expectation increases from an already league-leading +8.1% to +11.0%#DallasCowboys https://t.co/5MEogGeIgT
With a quarterback that good leading the charge, it is easy to see why the team is confident heading into the bye week. Cooper and company realize that there is still work to be done, but they also know that they can be a very, very dangerous team.
For instance, what if there is a game in which Coop and Zeke go off?
Amari Cooper: “Man, if I can ball out in the same game that Zeke balls out in, we’ll never lose.”— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 21, 2019
Jerry Jones wants to make sure that his star receiver doesn’t leave town anytime soon, saying that it would be hard for him to imagine Cooper leaving the Cowboys.
Today is the one-year anniversary of the Cowboys trade for Amari Cooper. Dallas still needs to work out a contract extension with Cooper to keep him long term.— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 22, 2019
Jerry Jones on @1053thefan: “I have no reason to think Amari Cooper won’t finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.”
There are going to be some ups and downs as the season goes along, but the Cowboys don’t care what is said outside their locker room, including Doug Pederson’s guaranteed win. Zeke made that clear following the big win:
“We don’t need inspiration from him to go out there and play hard,” Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott said. “This rivalry is enough. Honestly, we don’t give a [expletive] what Doug Pederson says.”