The defense gets back on track, putting Dallas in the win column again.
The victory saw DaRon Bland, starting on the outside with Trevon Diggs out for the year, secure his second and third interceptions of the young season and his second touchdown. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch scooped the ball up after a strip sack by Dante Fowler and returned it for a score. But the most fun defensive score came on the extra point, when Bryan Anger took the snap and found Chauncey Golston on a pass for a two-point conversion.
Meanwhile Prescott spread the ball around on offense, finding CeeDee Lamb for his first touchdown of the season. Michael Gallup had another strong game with five catches for 60 yards. Second-year tight end Jake Ferguson caught all seven of his targets for 77 yards, while Jalen Tolbert had his strongest game as a pro with four catches for 53 yards.
Prescott finished the game 28 for 34 for 261 yards with a 108.5 passer rating. His day would’ve been better if rookie TE Luke Schoonmaker didn’t drop a touchdown pass in the first quarter, a common theme for the tight ends through four games.
Injury wise, Dallas saw Micah Parsons miss several plays with a leg injury, however he would return and finish the game.
A quick rundown of how this drubbing went down.
Dallas’ next touchdown, however, could be chalked up to special teams and the defense. A booming 55-yard punt by Bryan Anger, followed by a hard-hitting tackle on punt coverage from Jalen Tolbert, resulted in the Patriots starting at their own 10-yard line. But on second-and-12 from his own 8, Jones scrambled out of the pocket only to have Dante Fowler strip-sack him from behind. Leighton Vander Esch then scooped up the bouncing ball and ran to pay dirt for his first career touchdown.
And then the Cowboys employed a little trickery after lining up for an extra-point field goal try. Instead, the holder Anger threw a pass to a wide-open Chauncey Golston for the two points, Golston’s first trip to the end zone as well. This marked the first time an NFL team has run a successful fake for a two-point conversion since extra points were moved back in 2015.
The good times kept rolling when Dallas added another three points soon thereafter. Aubrey was good from 23 yards this time to finish off an 11-play, 73-yard drive, as the Cowboys reached the red zone again but had to turn to their kicker once more.
But while the offense might have been having trouble crossing the goal line, the defense certainly wasn’t. Just before the half ended, cornerback DaRon Bland stepped in front of a Jones offering, snagged the interception and raced down the right sideline 54 yards untouched for his second pick-six of the young season.
The Cowboys were set to give Aubrey a chance at a 66-yard field goal with 3 seconds left, but a false start penalty negated that idea. Still, the rout was officially on, Dallas going into the break with a commanding 28-3 lead.
Cowboys-Patriots takeaways: Dallas returns to dominant form in flattening of New England - Michael Gehlken, DMN
It is a good sign when the takeaways score points.
Defense is back
Dan Quinn did not recognize his defense in a 28-16 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Not the lack of takeaways. Not the poor run defense. Not the inconsistent tackling. And least excusable of all, not the way his players lethargically ran to the football.
So, the best compliment to give the Cowboys’ performance Sunday is also the simplest.
Defensive end Dante Fowler strip-sacked Jones in the second quarter, and Vander Esch recovered with an 11-yard return for a touchdown. Bland did his best Trevon Diggs impression when starting in his place, notching two interceptions that included his second pick-six of the year. Overall, the defense played fast while stopping the run.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott was quiet in his Dallas return.
His first carry went for 9 yards. The other five totaled just 7. Rhamondre Stevenson managed 23 yards on 13 carries.
In the Cowboys’ three wins this season, they held teams to 67 carries for 225 yards, a 3.4 average. No single run totaled 20 or more yards. In their Sept. 24 loss, the Cowboys allowed 7.4 yards per carry. Four runs of 20-plus yards occurred in the first half.
Dallas Cowboys Exploit, Embarrass Once-Proud New England Patriots - Top 10 Whitty Observations - Richie Whitt, Sports Illustrated
What observations did you have during this blowout victory?
4. TYPICAL TRIBUTE - As history suggested, former Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott received a warm welcome but also a rude reception. The team produced a touching pre-game video tribute to Zeke, who then went out gained only 22 yards on eight touches. Former Cowboys running backs Emmitt Smith, Duane Thomas, Calvin Hill and now Elliott are 1-10 coming back “home” to face Dallas. None of them rushed for more than 50 yards.
3. DALLAS, DOMINANT - After a month it’s clear the Cowboys’ ceiling is as high as any team in the league. Their three wins over the Giants, Jets and Pats have come by a combined, 108-13. The lone loss, which feels like an awkward aberration, came last week to the Cardinals, 28-16.
2. PERFECT 10 - The Cowboys won their 10th consecutive game at AT&T Stadium. They haven’t lost since last season’s opener to Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s the franchise’s longest home winning streak since leaving Texas Stadium in 2009.
Dak Prescott Gives His Take on Ezekiel Elliott’s Return to Dallas After Game - Isaiah De Los Santos, SportDFW
AT&T Stadium saw a familiar face on Sunday afternoon.
Following the matchup, quarterback ex-teammate Dak Prescott was asked about Elliott’s return, and he had plenty to say.
Dak Prescott on Zeke Elliott tribute: “I’m sure he liked the tribute. I loved the tribute, I thought it was pretty cool. We’ll connect, we’ll talk. As I told you our relationship is much bigger than this game of football especially this game of him coming back.”
— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) October 2, 2023
Prescott told reporters that he and Elliott hung out on Saturday prior to squaring off. They also chatted pregame, when Elliott made the rounds and talked to several of his former teammates. And they shared a postgame embrace that surely made some fans emotional.
Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott hugging it out at midfield following the Cowboys 38-3 win.pic.twitter.com/xUm58XbVSz
— Michael Bier (@MichaelJBier) October 1, 2023
Before the contest, the Cowboys premiered a tribute video thanking the RB for his years starring for the team. Prescott said he “loved” the way Dallas honored Elliott.
Next week, the Cowboys look to get their revenge in prime time.
Look, this has to be fixed.
The Niners are going to score touchdowns next week, and once again the Cowboys are going to be facing a good defense, but they need seven, not three.
The Cowboys have a +50 point differential, and yet we still have no idea how good this team really is.
The test is next week, we will learn a lot about this football team on the road.
Christian McCaffery is the best offensive player in football after a month.
Cowboys are going to have their hands full trying to stop him and all the other skill players on offense.
The Dallas offense is going to have to score touchdowns, they will get down there a handful of times, but they will need seven not three to win that game.
End of the day, Cowboys are 3-1, and that is all that matters. Get ready for a statement game next week against the Niners.
Get your popcorn ready, game is going to be fun.
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