DALLAS — With a 43-3 drubbing of the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys returned to the form that had them looking like one of the better teams in the NFC. After an inexplicable Week 9 showing, the Cowboys rebounded and got back to their winning ways in Week 10.
The old winning streak for Dallas was halted at six games but, with how they played in a shellacking of the Falcons, there’s reason to be optimistic that a new streak could be forthcoming. Given how dominant the Cowboys looked, it almost feels like Sunday’s win should have counted as two victories.
Nevertheless, the Cowboys’ triumph had all the hallmarks of their early-season success. There was a relentless offensive attack led by quarterback Dak Prescott, a stalwart running game, an early lead to build upon, and then the unleashing of an opportunistic defense. It was all working for Dallas in an inverse way to the previous week when nothing went right.
Unlike last week, when the team came out flat, the Cowboys were in sync from the start. The first possession featured an eight-play, 73-yard drive for a touchdown. The offense converted on two third downs and Prescott found wide receiver CeeDee Lamb for the 13-yard score to get the party started.
The Cowboys would eventually score touchdowns on four of their five offensive possessions in the first half as the Falcons tried to duplicate the game plan of the Denver Broncos from last week. It didn’t work as Dallas welcomed the challenge.
Prescott burned the Falcons as they geared up to bottle up the run game and dared the MVP candidate to beat them through the air. Lamb’s second touchdown of the game was a perfect pass lofted by Prescott as a pass rusher was zeroing in.
Even though it was the obvious sticking point, the Falcons also failed to stop the run. While Atlanta limited big plays on the ground, the Cowboys still managed to run for 114 yards and running back Ezekiel Elliott found his way into the end zone for two rushing scores.
Dallas’ offense responded to a poor game by going 6-for-14 on third downs – converting more when the game was close – and a perfect 3-for-3 on fourth down tries. The biggest fourth down conversion of the game came in the second quarter when the Cowboys were up just 14-3 and facing a 4th & 3. Prescott bought time in the pocket and found wide receiver Michael Gallup for 23-yards and the first down. Elliott scored one of his TDs on the next play and the game felt all but over.
The defense set the tone early as well. On the Falcons’ first possession, Atlanta marched down the field and looked prime for a game-tying touchdown, but safety Jayron Kearse had other plans.
On a third down attempt, Matt Ryan threw over the middle to wide receiver Russell Gage, who was ready to set up the Falcons with a 1st & goal. However, Kearse delivered a blow to jar the ball loose and save the Cowboys four points. The stop was the first of twelve times that the defense prevented a first down on a third or fourth down try on Sunday.
After often failing to get off the field and lacking effort in Week 9, the Cowboys came back to allow just one third or fourth down conversion from the Falcons’ offense.
Cornerback Jourdan Lewis had himself a day. On Atlanta's second drive, Lewis practically got the ball back to the offense single-handedly. Lewis had two pass breakups on back-to-back plays, including a big knock down on a pass intended for tight end Kyle Pitts, to turn the Falcons over on downs. Later in the game, Lewis snared an interception to seal his spectacular performance.
Up big, the Cowboys’ secondary went on the hunt for takeaways and came away with two more interceptions. Cornerback Trevon Diggs collected his league-leading eighth of the season and fellow CB Anthony Brown came down with a beautiful juggling one-handed pick.
A blocked punt by Dorance Armstrong completed the domination in all three phases for the Cowboys. Unlike last week, the Cowboys converted on the block and got a touchdown on the play. Rookie cornerback Nahshon Wright enjoyed some redemption, after bobbling away the punt last week, by scooping up the loose ball for the score this time around.
Week 10 was the blowout for the Cowboys that answered the embarrassing loss from last week. This is what good teams do, they respond to an off week by dominating their next opponent while leaving no doubt.
The Cowboys responded to the questions about how good they can be by thrashing the Falcons and putting together a complete team win. After earning their defeat last week, Dallas is back in the saddle at 7-2 where they remain atop the NFC East.
Does the big win in Week 10 for the Cowboys make up for the stumble from the previous week? Share your best boasts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.