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What we learned: Cowboys taking care of business during winning streak

The Dallas Cowboys are on a three-game winning streak thanks to the steady play of backup quarterback Cooper Rush and a standout defense.

DALLAS — Another week and another win for the Dallas Cowboys, who are now 3-1 on the season. That must be a nice feeling for a team that was said to be done after starting quarterback Dak Prescott was injured. 

Since that Week 1 catastrophe, the Cowboys have won three straight, including two over NFC East rivals, and are heading in the right direction. The path to victory for the Cowboys in the last three weeks hasn’t changed and it was executed well in the 25-10 win over the Washington Commanders.

Here are some things were learned about the Cowboys from their Week 4 victory:

Cooper Rush has a defense that he can rely on

The team is now 3-0 with Rush in at quarterback, and his play did nothing to detract from the win against the Commanders. Rush played smart football, didn’t turn the ball over, and made good decisions to help the team finish off an inferior opponent.

However, anyone would be foolish to fail to recognize that it was the defense that led the way for the Cowboys.

The Dallas defense held the Commanders to just 297 total yards with a paltry 170 through the air. With 10 points allowed, they prevented their fourth straight offense from exceeding 20 points. At key moments in the game, the Cowboys had an answer on defense. 

Cornerback Trevon Diggs had an interception and two big deflections on fourth down attempts while rookie corner DaRon Bland also grabbed an interception in the fourth quarter to essentially seal the game.

Run defense still needs to be better

One aspect of the defense that needs improvement for the Cowboys is stopping the run. Washington ran for 142 yards in the game, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Dallas limited the damage to just 36 yards in the second half, but if the game were closer, the early issues might have caused a bigger problem.

The Commanders got their offense going with the running game, especially on the outside, in the first half, yet they never opened up the passing game. The Cowboys were content to allow the yards on the ground in this game, knowing that they could win on the back end. 

That strategy won’t work every week and Dan Quinn needs to see his group get a better handle on the ground game because better offenses will take advantage of a rush defense that has allowed over 142 yards in three of their four games this season.

Brett Maher is a trustworthy kicker

Heading into the season, one of the biggest question marks for the Cowboys was Maher. In his first go round with the team, the former CFL standout was far from a sure thing. The veteran kicker had a big leg, but accuracy was an issue. However, the results through the season’s first four games have turned around the opinion on Maher who looks like a trusted member of the team.

Maher was 4-4 on his field goal attempts against the Commanders, making kicks that included a 45-yard and 53-yard try.

The only misses from Maher on the season was a 59-yard attempt last Monday night and a blocked extra point attempt on Sunday. The Cowboys signed Maher in the summer to compete for the job and he’s been one of the better kickers in the league so far this season.

Maher’s game against the Commanders was the latest example of why he’s been instrumental to winning games.

CeeDee Lamb has turned the corner

A few weeks into this season and there were people wondering if Lamb could handle being the No. 1 wide receiver in Dallas. It felt like a legitimate question until halftime of the win over the Giants in Week 3. Lamb took over in the second half of that contest and continued building momentum against the Commanders.

On Sunday, the offense went to Lamb early in the game to get him going, and he parlayed that good start into 97 yards and a score. Lamb’s impeccable route led to his 30-yard touchdown to put the Cowboys up 12 points early in the fourth quarter. 

Lamb was off to a slow start this season, but he’s turned the corner and now looks like a top wideout option after a second straight solid outing.

Right side of imperfection

The Cowboys have been one of the most undisciplined teams in the league since the start of the 2021 season, but yesterday, it was the Commanders who committed most of the penalties. Washington was flagged 11 times for 136 yards, which included two penalties that wiped out turnovers.

Dallas was penalized just four times for 20 yards and played their cleanest game of the season. A disciplined effort put Dallas on the other side of the whistle for the first time in a long time.

Hats off to Mike McCarthy and the team for playing cleaner football in the victory over the Commanders.

Do you think the Cowboys are in good shape heading into Week 5? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.

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