Cowboys find appropriate formula in mauling of Vikings

Don’t count the Dallas Cowboys out just yet.

Last week’s fourth-quarter debacle at Lambeau Field masked the fact the Cowboys had dominated the Green Bay Packers for most of the game in enemy territory. Sunday, Dallas posted an even better start on the road in Minnesota and made sure there would be no collapse.

“We played a complete game,” Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott said. “We knew we needed to respond after last week. This was big for us.”

The Cowboys eviscerated the Vikings, 40-3, and looked a heck of a lot like the team Prescott led during his 13-3 rookie season – using a ‘keep the ball out of the opponents’ hands with a run-first’ mind-set.

Where Dallas lacks – a bevy of weapons in the passing game – it makes up for with a stout backfield duo and a defense capable of obliterating teams like it did Minnesota.

During an afternoon stocked with superlatives lathered in blue and silver, the defense would be the obvious choice as the No. 1 star. The Cowboys sacked Kirk Cousins seven times, allowed just 183 yards and forced seven punts. 

However, the Dallas offense may have found its identity for 2022. Yes, Prescott can air it out 40 times if needed. He proved that last year when the Cowboys led the NFL in offense behind a career-high 37 touchdown passes from the former Haughton star. He also threw for more than 4,900 yards in 2019.

That does not appear to be the best approach this season. Dallas said goodbye to wide receiver Amari Cooper and didn’t do much to replace him. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to chunk it all over the lot – especially if you don’t have to.

Sunday, Prescott threw the ball 25 times and completed a whopping 88 percent of his attempts. It marked the second-most-efficient performance in No. 4’s career. No. 1 came in 2016 (32-of-36 vs. Tampa Bay). 

You see where I’m going here.

Sunday, Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott each earned 15 carries. Both players scored twice, although Pollard’s came through the air. The Cowboys piled up 151 yards on the ground (Pollard led with 80) and helped the offense hog the ball for a dazzling 37-plus minutes.

“They’re dynamic,” Prescott said of his running backs. “When you have both of them out there, the defense doesn’t know what’s coming at them. Those two guys will do whatever you ask them to do. They have no egos; we’re blessed.”

Considering the strength of the season and the talent on offense, Jerry Jones’ failure to add another skill star on offense doesn’t make sense, but that doesn’t mean the Cowboys can’t make a postseason run. It simply means the identity must be different.

The first loss in the history of the franchise after holding a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter (last week at Lambeau) is officially history and the Cowboys (7-3) have a short week before their annual Thanksgiving Day game. 

This is a big one. The opponent: the 7-3 New York Giants in a battle for second place in the NFC East.

“I missed them the first time,” said Prescott, who was out with a hand injury when Dallas beat the Giants, 23-16, in Week 3, “so I’m ready to get after them this time.”

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