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Cowboys news: Andy Dalton gets the win, and Mike McCarthy’s motivational sledgehammer

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Dallas Cowboys v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys’ Andy Dalton returns from concussion, COVID-19 to get win - Todd Archer, ESPN

It was good to see Dalton back on the field, this team really needed him.

Against the Vikings, the Cowboys scored four touchdowns in 10 possessions. The 11th possession was the best kind, with Dalton taking a knee to kill the clock.

“It was a full week of work coming into this, but I thought he did a heck of a job,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He kept us in clean plays, really gave us the ability to stay with the run and the pass. I thought [offensive coordinator Kellen Moore] called an excellent game. Just creating opportunities for all our perimeter players. That’s the way we want to play. Spread the ball around.”

Dalton completed passes to nine players, including one to himself that lost 2 yards. But his main threats were Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Schultz. They combined for 14 receptions for 140 yards, with Lamb making an acrobatic touchdown catch in the first quarter that the rookie receiver said was made more difficult by the stadium lights and Schultz catching the winning score while wide open.

“You just got to put it on him at that point,” Dalton said. “When you’re that wide open, it shouldn’t be that difficult.”

Mike McCarthy smashed watermelons with a sledgehammer to motivate Cowboys - Ryan Homler, Yahoo Sports

If all Mike McCarthy had to do is smash fruit to get this team to play the way they did, then let’s keep it going.

Yes, you are reading that right. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, McCarthy brought the props to the team’s meeting on Saturday night. He felt as if the group still hadn’t fully grasped just how aggressive he wanted them to be, especially when it came to containing star running back Dalvin Cook.

So, naturally, McCarthy began crushing watermelons with the sledgehammer to emphasize how the team needed to “smash” its objectives.

As out-there as the strategy was, it clearly had an impact on the players. Pelissero even noted that the team was so fired up that some began to join in on the madness.

“The players are roaring, McCarthy’s pants are soaked. Finally gets to the watermelon with Dalvin Cook’s picture on it, Demarcus Lawrence jumps up and goes ‘I got to get that one,’” Pelissero said. ”He hands over the sledgehammer to Lawrence, he smashes that watermelon.”

Zack Martin’s Move to RT Saved The Cowboys’ Day, And Maybe Their Season - Kevin Brady, Inside The Star

It was a great move by offensive line coach Joe Philbin.

Maybe the highlight of the day came when Tony Pollard busted through the right side for a 42 yard touchdown run, the longest of the season for any Cowboys runner. But what drew my attention immediately, was how Zack Martin and Dalton Schultz worked their combo block to the second level and opened up the gaping hole for Pollard.

There are a lot of good feelings around Cowboys Nation following Sunday’s win. All of a sudden this looks like a competent, well coached football team. We had thought it could take a few weeks for this team to respond to the new staff, and after some roster moves we may finally have reached that point.

It’s not crazy to think the Cowboys could beat some similarly struggling teams down the stretch, backing into the postseason with a division title. And if they do so, the move to make Martin the starting tackle over Steele will be a defining moment in the late season run.

Ezekiel Elliott Finally Reaches 100 Yards, Joins Elite RB Group - Matthew Lenix, Inside The Star

Let’s hope this is the start of Elliott rounding back into form.

In Elliott’s first four seasons reaching the 100-yard mark was something he did in his sleep. He registered seven games over 100 yards in his three full seasons (2016, 2018, 2019) and even racked up five games over the century mark when he dealt with a six-game suspension (2017). On Sunday, Elliott (103 yards) had his first 100-yard game since Week 17 of last season.

This marked the 27th time in Elliott’s career he’s reached 100 yards and the Cowboys have enjoyed amazing success with a 23-4 record.

Minnesota Vikings Running Back Dalvin Cook came into Week 11 leading the league with 954 yards rushing. He outgained Elliott by 12 yards but Elliott’s 4.9 yards per rush was slightly better than Cook’s 4.3 on Sunday.

When asked if not being mentioned with Cook as one of the league’s best runners this season bothered him Elliott had this to say.

“Nah, I wouldn’t say so, man,” Elliott said, via the Dallas Morning News. “I don’t really pay attention to what other people are saying.

“All I worry about is being the player I need to be for this team.”

NFL overreactions, Week 11: Cowboys are a lock in NFC East - Brandon Mendoza, NFL.com

Let’s not get to far ahead of ourselves now. It was one game.

Table is set for Cowboys to win the NFC East

Could I have replaced the Cowboys in this subhead with the Eagles, the Giants or Washington? Maybe. But of all the NFC East teams, I like Dallas’ recipe for claiming the division title the most.

The Cowboys are the only NFC East team with all three division foes left on their schedule, starting Thanksgiving Day with Washington. Along the way, the Cowboys will also get the Joe Burrow-less Bengals and injury-plagued 49ers.

On Sunday, the Cowboys won a game that was started by a QB not named Dak Prescott for the first time since Week 13, 2015 (when Matt Cassel beat Washington). Andy Dalton had three passing TDs and a passer rating of at least 100 for only the second time in the last two seasons (the other time: when he played for Cincinnati against Miami in Week 16 of 2019).

After Further Review: Cowboys Win 3 Goal-to-Gos Against Vikings Defense - Craig Peters, Vikings.Com

The CeeDee Lamb catch, from the opposite perspective.

Q2, 5:00 remaining — Second-and-goal at the Minnesota 4

The Vikings bring a blitz with Harrison Smith from the left side of the defense, but Elliott is more than able to pick it up on the timing route from Dalton to Lamb.

The first-round pick is able to create separation from Vikings first-round selection Jeff Gladney with his outward-angle cut. Lamb gets his head around to find the football (which Gladney was unable to do) and makes an incredible adjustment to a ball that appears well off the mark (the ball is stopped in the screen grab above Lamb’s head, blocking the sideline and end zone line).

Unlike the first score and the one below that involved wins before snaps, this is just a talented player making a great play in space.

Why the Cowboys finishing 6-10 and winning the NFC East is better than a top three draft pick - DannyPhantom, Blogging The Boys

Win or tank, it’s what all Cowboys fans are debating.

You could venture to say that if the Cowboys held the 10th spot in the draft last year, they would’ve ended up with nearly the same draft haul. Teams view college players so differently that every year it’s the same song and dance about certain players falling in the draft. While it’s enticing to us on the outside to think of the possibilities of what could became of elite draft positioning, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Will McClay and company will be able to do plenty of great things regardless of where they’re picking in the draft. This team is coming off what seems like, at the moment, a phenomenal draft haul, and they accomplished that by patiently just picking right at the start of the bottom half of the draft order.

And let’s not deceive ourselves, these Cowboys players aren’t going to phone it in. They are grown men out there playing for their financial livelihood giving it everything they got. They’re not playing opossum. If they’re bad, they’re bad. Whether it’s the coaching, overall talent, or some combination, playing losing football would not paint a promising picture in Dallas. Being a good team is more important than being a bad team and gaining extra draft capital.

Almost every last place team in the divisions around the league had a top 10 pick last season. Bad teams remain bad teams, and it’s not always easy to get out of the hole. We don’t want the Cowboys to be a bad team. We want them to be a good team struck by a misfortunate of injuries who keep showing up on Sunday with some fight. Because it’s that type of team who will be better equipped to make a run at a Super Bowl next season.

Baltimore Ravens RBs Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins test positive for coronavirus - Jamison Hensley, ESPN

Something to keep an eye on as the Cowboys play the Ravens in roughly 10 days.

Baltimore Ravens running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins have tested positive for the coronavirus, coach John Harbaugh said Monday.

Each player has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

It’s a major blow to the Ravens’ backfield just days before Thursday night’s game against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers.

Gus Edwards is the only available running back on the Ravens’ roster who has had any carries this season. Justice Hill, a little-used 2019 fourth-round pick, will be Baltimore’s top backup, and practice squad player Ty’Son Williams could get elevated.

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