This article’s title is accurately indicative: it will be a run-through of the three Cowboys who most contributed to their win Sunday. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t begin with the man whose own star has at times shown brighter than the team’s logo.
So for the sake of recognizing everything that Dak Prescott has been, and is, to the Cowboys organization, it’s only right to dedicate the beginning of this piece to him.
Prescott has been the epitome of work and perseverance, dedication, communication and elevation, and an invaluable leader of men. He rose above what was a very gloomy onset to a peculiar season, and his outreach stretched far beyond the gridiron.
His personal revelations of mental health struggles have aided his fellow man, and his allegiance to charities like Make-A-Wish and Faith, Fight, Finish is extraordinarily impactful. We’re all with you through this journey to recovery.
#3. Ezekiel Elliott
But alas, despite Prescott’s devastating injury, the games must continue on. As such, so must our coverage of America’s team. And both will be performed with the absolute best efforts we can muster up - that’s the way #4 would want it.
So let us begin with the man whose newest body ink signifies exactly what he desires on a regular in-game basis: to be fed.
Ezekiel Elliott knew right away that his QB’s unfortunate misstep would increase his workload. But Elliott’s a man who’s never met a challenge he didn’t like - nor a meal. Meals equate to carries in Zeke’s mind, and those came aplenty in Dak’s absence. They tallied 19 in total, and Zeke made good, posting his highest yards per attempt sum all season (4.79) for 91 yards in all.
His most meaningful one came on the same drive that the team’s wind was taken from their sails. He provided a rejuvenating bolt of electricity with 5:11 remaining in the third, taking an outside handoff from the 12-yard line and seamlessly maneuvering through a maze of would-be tacklers before finding his final destination in the end zone.
It was an emphatic stamp to culminate a painstakingly bittersweet drive. Zeke flashed a resounding four-finger salute to his fallen compatriot after waltzing his way to pay dirt, and the moment seemingly shocked life back into a mortified stadium. Dallas was hellbent on not losing this game - that is, at least, if #21 had anything to say about it.
#2. CeeDee Lamb
We’re sticking with the offense at No. 2, and at this point in the season, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise (Dallas’ supposed fortress on the opposite side of the ball currently boasts the league’s 30th-ranked total defensive rating).
The Cowboys offense, on the other hand, has been nothing short of spectacular. Relinquishing early leads has forced the scoring brigade into full-on panic mode, and this is where they’ve thrived - putting up historic numbers through the season’s first five tilts with their backs constantly against the wall.
And aside from Prescott himself, CeeDee Lamb has been the most important cog in the machine. He began the season with a hot pace, and has only capitalized with consistent showcases from there, showing the inklings of developing into a full-time primary target.
The Cowboys have themselves a star in CeeDee Lamb ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/YdeXivi7fs— PFF (@PFF) October 12, 2020
Lamb was excellent Sunday. He was a needed safety blanket on multiple breakdown plays, hauling in one huge catch after another, and flashed the immense physical tenacity and ball security that is steadily becoming his trademark.
One such showcase was this one, and it came on one of the more crucial possessions of the matchup.
Lamb just has a certain je ne sais quoi that makes him special. A.K.A, it’s impossible to place a blueprint on what it is that renders him so unique. He’s just got “it.” Dallas would go on to score on that possession, and it was Lamb’s immaculate catch, and toughness through contact, that set it all up.
#1. Andy Dalton
Enter the Red Rifle. Dalton was easily the standalone passageway between a Dallas victory or defeat, and he energetically asserted himself as a placeholder for good fortunes.
Although his final year in Cincinnati were less than pleasing, Dalton is a seasoned and savvy veteran still fully capable of manning backup duties, and stepping into certain roles should his number be called.
Even he, though, couldn’t have been fully prepared for the circumstance that would befall upon him during Sunday’s third quarter. Nonetheless, the former Bengals’ signal-caller was up to the task, and systematically engineered his team to scoring plays on multiple crucial possessions.
And when it mattered most, Dalton elegantly rose to the occasion, dusting off months of dormancy to conduct a grand symphony orchestra of winningness.
He looked crisp in his progressions and confident in his throws during the fourth quarter. Following a Giants’ touchdown, the Dalton-led ‘Boys began their succeeding drive backed up to their own 25-yard line. All signs pointed to a Zeke five-star feast, but with blue and white defenders concentrating on him on nearly every play, Dalton was forced to take over the offensive reigns to provide an alternative look. He did so with full command, efficiently guiding his squad downfield in minutes for a tying field goal.
His next possession was his best. Gutsy QB’s are rare jewels, and Dalton has never lacked in that category. He had two critical finds in the game’s final minute, hitting Amari Cooper in stride on an easy slant, before sensing blitz pressure on the next play and escaping the pocket to hit a streaking Michael Gallup on the run for 20+.
Gallup continued to receive love from his QB. On the ensuing snap, a quick-witted Dalton displayed the breadth of his experience. He noticed Gallup in single-coverage with his cornerback, and once New York’s safety committed to shadowing Ezekiel Elliott out of the backfield, the “Rifle” fired off his weapon and connected, striking his target down the sideline for what would ultimately be the game’s decisive moment.
Andy Dalton finished with a 9-11 completion tally, good for a total of 111 yards. The fourth-quarter comeback marked the 22nd of his career, according to Pro Football Reference.
As for appearances on Blogging The Boys’ stars of the game countdown, it’s his first. We’re hoping it won't be his last.