One thing is seemingly clear two games into the 2019 season.
Even when Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is not perfect, he is still pretty darn good.
So forgive him if he didn’t match the 158.3 quarterback rating he fashioned in the season-opening victory against the New York Giants. Prescott will settle for another sterling performance and a 2-0 start following Sunday’s 31-21 victory against the Redskins.
Prescott completed 26 of 30 passes for 269 yards with three touchdowns, an interception and a lowly quarterback rating of 123.5.
This game started with Prescott tossing an interception on the second drive of the game, resulting in a 7-0 deficit after a Redskins touchdown.
He then went off, leading the Cowboys to touchdowns on three consecutive drives with passes of 51 yards to receiver Devin Smith, 2 yards to tight end Jason Witten and 10 yards to Amari Cooper to blow the game open at 21-7 early in the third quarter.
How good was Prescott?
He completed 18 straight passes and was 14 of 14 in the second half. The 18 straight completions ties his career high and is the second most in Cowboys history behind Brandon Weeden’s 21 straight in 2015. It’s the most for the team on the road.
Prescott led the Cowboys on five consecutive scoring drives, including a 25-yard field goal and 2-yard touchdown run by Ezekiel Elliott in fourth quarter, before running to clock to end the game.
With seven touchdown passes in two games, Prescott, who passed for 405 yards and four touchdowns to go along with that perfect quarterback rating in the 35-17 season-opening win against the Giants, has tied Don Meredith’s team record for the most in two games to open the season. Meredith had seven in 1966.
“I mean yeah sure,” Prescott said when asked if this was the best start of his career. “I give credit to going back to last year. I mean I think it happened last year and started last year of just being able to take that and progress through the offseason and learn more. Obviously it’s great coaching from Kellen. As I said before, when you have great players around you, just makes the things fun and makes it a little bit easier from that standpoint.”
Five things from Cowboys victory against the Redskins:
Dak Prescott’s encore and still nice
There was little chance Dak Prescott was going to match last week’s perfection on the road against the Redskins and a defense that is much better than the Giants. He had a tipped pick on the second drive of the game. The Cowboys had just one first down after their first three drives. He was 4 of 6 for 19 yards and an interception after the first quarter.
Then Prescott became Prescott again, leading the Cowboys to touchdowns on three drives with touchdown passes to three different receivers to make the score 21-7. The second one included a 42-yard run by Prescott and a stiff-arm on cornerback Josh Norman, who questioned Prescott’s abilities during the week while saying the Giants defense made it easy on him.
When the Cowboys sealed the game with a touchdown run by Ezekiel Elliott to make the score 31-14, Prescott tied a career high with 18 straight completions.
He was 14 for 14 in the second half.
“He is a pretty locked in guy, there is no question,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He is playing at a very high level. I think he has got a good command of what we are trying to do. I think he is comfortable. The guys are playing well around him. He and Kellen Moore are absolutely on the same page as of what we want to get to and how we are going to get there.”
Elliott back to normal load
The second game back from a 41-day holdout resulted in an increase in workload for Elliott. After getting 13 carries for 53 yards in the opener against the Giants, Elliott rushed 23 times for 111 yards and a game-sealing touchdown against the Redskins.
“Slowly but surely I feel back in my rhythm and knocking the rust off,” Elliott said. “I feel good about my game and where I am at right now.”
He was in on 28 of the Cowboys’ 30 first-half snaps. He played in 23 of 34 first-half snaps against the Giants.
The Cowboys did use backup Tony Pollard more against the Redskins, largely because of the hot day in Washington.
The Cowboys took the lead with the passing game but closed out the Redskins with Elliott on the ground. Elliott had a 27-yard run on the final drive to put him over 100 yards and put the Redskins to sleep.
It was his 20th career game with 100 rushing yards. The Cowboys are 17-3 when Elliott tops 100 yards on the ground.
“That is what this team is all about,” Elliott said. “That is our time to go out there in the game, step on their throat and get it over with. That is our time grind out yards and grind out the time.”
Cowboys defense still not happy
The Cowboys defense did its job against Redskins running back Adrian Peterson, holding him to 10 carries for 25 yards.
But that was largely because the Cowboys offense took over the game and took the running game out of the equation.
The defense failed to come up with at least two interceptions when they had the opportunity. It gave up a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to keep the Redskins in the game longer than necessary. And then the Cowboys gave up a late touchdown pass with 2:17 remaining. They recorded just one sack (defensive end Tyrone Crawford).
Crawford’s sack in the second quarter actually gave the offense a spark. It was 3rd and 11 at the Dallas 48 with the Redskins up 7-0 and looking to add to their lead. The sack got the defense off the field.
Dak Prescott took the Cowboys 97 yards on the ensuing drive, capped by the 51-yard strike to Devin Smith and the comeback was on.
“I am damn sure not happy,” defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence said. “We know what have to accomplish out there, especially in the fourth quarter. We want more. We are going to hold our heads down and keep digging.”
Cowboys shut up Josh Norman
Norman made news earlier in the week when he questioned Prescott after he passed for 405 yards, four touchdowns and had a perfect quarterback rating against the Giants.
Prescott and the Cowboys receivers seemingly took their time picking on Norman. Devin Smith beat him for a 51-yard touchdown in the second quarter on a perfect throw from Prescott.
Prescott also hit him with a nasty stiff-arm on a 42-yard run in the second quarter. Receiver Michael Gallup, Amari Cooper and tight end Jason Witten all caught passes when covered by Norman.
“Sure I heard it,” Prescott said. “I’m not going to allow him to be a motivation to me. I’ve got enough things that motivate me, that get me going. What somebody says, good or bad about me, definitely isn’t the case, especially when he’s not on this team.”
The Cowboys did their homework on Norman’s game as well.
“He gave up a deep post route last week to (Eagles receiver) DeSean Jackson,” Cooper said. “We said we got some guys with speed in this room and maybe we can do the same thing. That is what Dev did.”
Dolphins up next
The Cowboys come home for a matchup against the hapless Miami Dolphins, who lost 59-10 in the opener against the Baltimore Ravens and 43-0 to the New England Patriots.
The Cowboys should make this an easy 3-0 start. The biggest intrigue in the game are the trade talks the Cowboys are having with the Dolphins about safety Minkah Fitzpatrick that possibly could include defensive end Taco Charlton.
The Cowboys did business with the Dolphins in the off-season in a trade for defensive Robert Quinn, who will make his season debut against his former team after being suspended for the first two games for using a banned substance.