As the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, Jared Goff should always be better than Dak Prescott and on Sunday he was.
The Los Angeles Rams quarterback looked nothing like the player who played like a monumental bust last season in his rookie season, and he slowly exploited a Cowboys defense that does not have enough players.
The Cowboys led the Rams 17-6 in the second quarter, and then despite the chance to make the Rams’ one dimensional, the defense was awful in a 35-30 loss.
All of those re-worked drafts of the 2016 class had Dak, who was a fourth-round pick, selected No. 1 overall, which is where the Rams picked Goff. On Sunday, Goff was better.
It helped his team was better, too.
The Rams ripped off 19 consecutive points and squeezed out the remaining minutes to win a game where they entered as underdogs.
As is the case with any NFL loss, there is plenty of blame to go around but this one is on a defense that was handed a win and gave it right back.
Goff threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns, but the Rams’ running game embarrassed the Cowboys; the Dallas defense allowed the Rams to run for 169 yards with Todd Gurley accounting for 121.
The Rams are 3-1 and one of the biggest surprises in the NFL, as are the Cowboys, who are now 2-2.
The success of the Cowboys is built on their offense taking a lead, and then the defense loading up to defend the pass. It worked last season, and there is no reason it should not have on Sunday.
The absence of linebacker Sean Lee to a hamstring injury was catastrophic to the run defense, because second-year linebacker Jaylon Smith is not ready for this yet.
These and three over-rants after the Cowboys’ second loss of the season.
1. Thirty points has to be enough. Quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott started the game like it was Week 8 in 2016; Dak was throwing it to Dez Bryant, and Zeke was running and scoring touchdowns.
The running game went for 189 yards, averaged 7.0 yards per carry, and the offensive line struggled. In the second half, Dak was under pressure far too often.
The Rams’ defensive line, at least in the pass, outplayed the Cowboys up front.
1.5 The Cowboys receivers are still not getting open enough.
2. Kudos to the NFL for modifying the TD celebration rule. For far too long, the uptights running the NFL offices did everything in their power to strip away the joy of scoring a touchdown with a series of penalties for everything outside of spiking the ball.
In the off-season, the NFL loosened up the rules and the results are entertaining.
After his first touchdown in the first half on Sunday, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott took out a “hankerchief” to complete his “Feed Me” motion with his left hand.
Following his second touchdown of the first half, he and his offensive line teammates played a game of “hot potato” with the ball with lineman Joe Looney spiking it. That score was erased when replays showed Zeke’s knee was down before he crossed the goal line, but on the next play Zeke’s touchdown did count and he gave the ball to his mom.
The best, however, was receiver Brice Butler’s touchdown catch and his celebration was going to be a game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” with Dez Bryant until tight end Jason Witten shut it down because the play was under review.
The touchdown stood, and Brice needs to pull that game out again.
2.5 Here is your loss: The Rams won the turnover stat, 2-0.
3. After leading the NFL in sacks and being named the NFC defensive player of the month, Cowboys defensive end Tank Lawrence is now officially a man the other team talks about during the week.
In the first half against the Rams, Lawrence was repeatedly double-teamed and often found an additional blocker in his way en route to Jared Goff.
Tank did come up with a strip-sack in the second half, the only sack of the game for the Cowboys’ defense.
If Tank is going to be accounted for by multiple offensive players on every snap, someone else has to do something. David Irving will come off suspension next week against the Green Bay Packers, and if he can’t do it, there is no other candidate.
Mac Engel: @macengelprof