DALLAS - The Cowboys went to San Francisco last Sunday on the heals of a couple of heartbreakers where they couldn't quite close out games against the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers despite scoring a combined 61 points and leading in the second half of both contests.
After the bye week, Dallas took their frustrations out on the 49ers and here's a look at some reasons to believe the Cowboys might be back on track:
1) Offensive line starting to mesh: Dallas rushed for 265 yards against San Francisco, as Ezekiel Elliott ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns. After four games of not being able to consistently establish their ground attack, Dallas started to get it going in the second half against Green Bay in Week 5.
After Sunday's win in San Francisco, the Cowboys seem to have found their mojo. Dallas won the time of possession battle 32:50 to 27:10 and averaged 6.2 yards per carry.
Now the hard part begins. Dallas’ remaining slate of games is extremely unforgiving, as the Cowboys draw division rivals Washington and Philadelphia twice along with Kansas City, Atlanta and Seattle.
Against teams vying for playoff spots and division titles, Dallas’ O-line will have to continue to come up big.
2) Defense bounces back: After giving up 35 points in each of their previous two games — both of which the Cowboys lost — Dallas surrendered just 10 points to San Francisco. With their de-facto leader Sean Lee back on the field, the Cowboys limited the 49ers to just 290 total yards of offense. Dallas also forced three turnovers and gave up just 4.3 yards per pass.
With the Redskins and Chiefs next on the schedule, the defense may be hitting its stride at just the right time. At 3-3, the Cowboys are three games behind the first place Eagles, who won on Monday night to improve to 6-1 on the season.
3) Dak Prescott appears ready to bust out: Prescott had an efficient day, going 16-of-25 for 234 yards and three touchdowns. But most importantly, he didn't turn the ball over and didn't miss open receivers. Against Green Bay and especially the Rams, Prescott struggled with making routine throws. This wasn’t a problem against San Francisco, as Prescott got back on track, only throwing nine incompletions on the day.
At times during the first five games, Prescott didn’t always look like the composed, poised rookie many of us got so accustomed to. His game against the 49ers should allow Cowboys fans everywhere the opportunity to breath a collective sigh of relief.
4) Jeff Heath can kick: Okay maybe this isn’t something we should get excited about since Dan Bailey, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, is out with a groin injury. Still, you have to admit it was pretty cool/hilarious to see Heath trot out for PATs and kickoffs. Much to my chagrin, however, Heath won’t be the kicker moving forward, as Dallas has signed veteran Mike Nugent to kick during Bailey's absence.
But seriously, what can’t Heath do? He’s on defense, special teams and has now kicked. If only he could play his true position of safety a little better.
5) Ezekiel Elliott finally looked like Ezekiel Elliott: I hesitate putting this on the list to get Cowboys fans’ hopes up, but here we go. Even though Elliott could still serve his six-game suspension this season, he had a monster game against San Francisco, racking up 219 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.
He simply ran over and around 49ers defenders, helping Dallas pull away early. As important as Prescott is to this offense, Elliott is truly the motor behind it. If he gets going and the Cowboys establish their running game, they are one of, if not the most potent and explosive offense in the league.
What about the Cowboys' win in San Francisco has you most excited? Share your thoughts with Reece on Twitter @ReeceWaddell15.
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