Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys build big halftime lead, eye NFC East lead

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has nine carries for 68 yards in the first half against Cincinnati Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has nine carries for 68 yards in the first half against Cincinnati Sunday at AT&T Stadium. AP

ARLINGTON The Dallas Cowboys (3-1) took the field against the Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) once again with quarterback Tony Romo, receiver Dez Bryant and cornerback Orlando Scandrick.

Even more importantl the Cowboys opened the game with an opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the NFC East, thanks to Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) suffering their first loss of the season to the Detroit Lions early in the day.

Because the Eagles already had their bye, a Cowboys win would put them a half game ahead in the division.

The Bengals were considered the toughest test of the season for this upstart Cowboys team, led by dueling rookie of year candidates in quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott.

But this moment was not too big early for these young Cowboys, who continued to follow of the lead the poised and unflappable Prescott and the hard-charging Elliott.

The Cowboys scored the first three times they had the ball to take a 21-0 lead.

The Cowboys scored on their opening possession for the fourth time in five games when Elliott took charge of a 64-yard drive with runs of 3, 17, 9 and 13 yards for the capper.

The Cowboys defense allowed three first downs to the Bengals on the ensuing drive before forcing a punt.

This time is Prescott’s turn to go to work on 11-play, 89-yard scoring drive.

He completed passes of 10 yards to Elliott, 17 yards to receiver Terrance Williams, 13 yards to receiver Brice Butler and 21 yards to Willaims before tossing a 4-yard touchdown pass to Butler.

That touchdown nullified because an illegal shift penalty on tight end Jason Witten.

Prescott got another chance when the Bengals were flagged for illegal contact on Witten. He then ran it in himself from 5 yards out on zone read keeper to make the score 14-0.

Prescott stayed hot the next time the Cowboys got the ball, leading them 80 yards to pay dirt.

Veteran running back Alfred Morris started things off with 28 yards on the first thre plays.

Then Prescott hit Butler for 7 and Witten for 31. He followed with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Cole Beasley to make the score 21-0.

The Cowboys defense did its part with a complete shut down of the Bengals offense through the first two quarters.

Prescott completed 10 of 15 passes for 147 in the first half. He has now thrown 146 consecutive passes since the start of the season without an interception. He 16 passes away from tying New England quarterback Tom Brady for the most passes (162) in NFL history to start a career without an interception.

Elliott had nine carries for 68 yards in the first half.

Defensive tackle Cedric Thornton put an exclamation point on the effort with a huge sack to help the Cowboys the ball late in the second quarter.

The Bengals had eight first downs and 116 total yards in the first half