By the numbers: Dallas Cowboys
“Zeke who” is no longer a funny joke.
Never mind owner Jerry Jones saying he has earned the right to joke with Elliott.
That the two-time rushing champ is still holding out in Cabo San Lucas is starting to become a serious concern.
He missed his third straight preseason game on Saturday and has had no recent talks with the Cowboys, including none to clear the air following the controversy of the past week.
Again, there is nothing funny about Elliott’s status with the season opener now less than two weeks away, not for a Cowboys team hoping to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995.
They could do no wrong while racing out to a 24-0 first half lead in what was their biggest preseason win since a 52-13 blowout of the Oakland Raiders in 2003.
It was their second straight preseason win as they moved to 2-1 and by far their most complete performance.
Quarterback Dak Prescott tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to receiver Michael Gallup on a score setup by a sack, forced fumble and recovery by maligned defensive end Taco Charlton.
Linebacker Joe Thomas blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.
Kicker Brett Maher made field goals of 36 and 23 yards.
Cornerback C.J. Goodwin recorded an interception.
Receiver Cedrick Wilson had a 32-yard punt return to set up a 1-yard score by Alfred Morris.
The only negatives were an illegal block penalty on tight end Jason Witten that brought back a nifty 24-yard run on a screen by running back Tony Pollard and a holding call on guard Connor Williams that nullified a 21-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Cooper Rush to Gallup.
Witten is still complaining about the penalty.
“I’m just excited for where we’re going to go,” Prescott said. “This team is coming together. This team is strong. This team is excited, a lot of youth and energy. It’s fun to be a part of.”
The only thing that would have made the first half better would have been if Elliott had some how come back from Cabo and sat in Jones’ luxury suite. That didn’t happen.
But everything else was darn near perfect.
There were two red zone touchdowns, two big plays on special teams, three forced turnovers and five sacks, including two by Charlton and Kerry Hyder.
Charlton, who showed toughness and fought through injury, forced two fumbles.
The Texans mustered just four first downs and 61 yards, compared to 13 and 239 by the Cowboys in the first two quarters. Houston did not convert a third down until the third quarter when it was down 34-0.
What is left to say?
Actually, things didn’t begin well. Prescott missed his first two passes to Gallup ending a streak of nine straight completions in the first two preseason games combine.
But that’s when the Cowboys jumped on the Texans like local boxing champ Errol Spence Jr. closing in a knockout.
A Charlton sack of quarterback Deshaun Watson on the first play of the ensuing drive proved to be an omen even though it was called back because of defensive holding in the secondary.
On the second play, defensive tackle Maliek Collins blew up running back Lamar Miller. Miller didn’t get up and was carted off the field with appears to be a season-ending knee injury. The next play featured a sack, forced fumble and recovery by Charlton.
Six plays later Prescott thew a dart to Gallup for the touchdown and his night was over as well his preseason. He will not play in the final Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the Cowboys plan to keep him out of harm’s way until the Sept. 8 season opener at home against the New York Giants.
What is left to prove? Prescott completed 11 of 14 passes for 109 yards with one touchdown pass, no interceptions and a 122.9 quarterback rating three preseason games.
The blocked punt and score by Thomas came on the ensuing series and the rout was on.
Regarding Zeke, Pollard continued to shine with six carries for 26 yards, including the breath-taking run on the screen that was called back because of the Witten penalty.
Pollard has 15 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown three preseason games.
“I feel like every week I’m doing a better job of getting more comfortable, playing my own style of game, how I’ve been playing, and learning what I have to do and not having to think as much. I think I’m getting better every week.”
The Cowboys added a fourth turnover, a spectacular interception by rookie safety Donovan Wilson, in the second half as well as a 12-yard touchdown pass from third quarterback Mike White to running back Jordan Chunn.
The Cowboys finished with 7.5 sacks in what was a complete domination on both sides of the ball.
On this night, nobody on the Cowboys sideline was laughing.