Entering week 7, the Dallas Cowboys were in desperate need of a complete victory in all phases of the game. Returning from a bye week surrounded by drama and news, the team could have lost focus. Coming off back-to-back home losses, the Cowboys needed a victory to get back to .500 on the season. Dallas overcame the spotlight and pressure to win against the 49ers. Now, the Cowboys sit at 3-3 on the season. With the victory, the team has a chance to hit the “reset” button on the 2017 season. Going forward, here are a few thoughts on why the team will build off this victory:
Running Game Rules
The Dallas Cowboys took the league by storm in 2016 with a league-leading rushing game. Then rookie Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 1,631 yards (102.0 ypg) with 15 rush TDs, and the Cowboys finished with a 13-3 record. Through the team’s first five games of 2017, Elliott ran for 393 yards (78.6 ypg) with just 2 rush TDs. That all changed on Sunday. Elliott recorded 147 rushing yards and doubled his touchdown numbers this season. Zeke also plucked a 72-yard touchdown pass on a screen. The play gave him a career day with 219 scrimmage yards and 3 total touchdowns. Going forward, the team will look for Zeke to continue eating, as the schedule gets tougher from here on out. While Elliott awaits his potential suspension, the team will continue to hand him the rock.
Sophomore Surge by Dak Prescott
Dak Prescott had an outstanding rookie season, culminating in the quarterback being named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Last season, Prescott threw 23 touchdown passes, scored 6 rushing touchdowns, and was very efficient on offense. This season, Prescott has had to shoulder more of the load. While the team had a sophomore slump through the first quarter of the season, Prescott has not. The 24-year old already has 14 touchdown passes, 3 rush touchdowns, and has played at a high level. Prescott has been on a tear through the last three games. The gunslinger has thrown for 737 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 1 interception over the last three weeks. As the season wears on, it is becoming apparent that Prescott can lead the offense, which will come in handy if Elliott receives an unfavorable ruling on his suspension appeal. Going forward, the organization will continue to rely on Prescott as a leader both on and off the field.
Dynamic Pass Rush (Finally)
Dallas Cowboys fans have been clamoring for a consistent pass rush since Demarcus Ware left the organization. The team has been on a constant search for an edge rusher that could consistently disrupt the pocket. Although it took three seasons, they finally have found their answer(s). Demarcus Lawrence is in the midst of a well-documented career year. Lawrence is second in the NFL with 9.5 sacks, although he has played in 1 less game than current leader Calais Campbell. Furthermore, the team is beginning to receive a big impact from David Irving. The undrafted pass rusher has picked up where he left off in 2016, and has helped form a dynamic duo with Lawrence.
The team has also seen impact plays from Maliek Collins and Tyrone Crawford. With the defensive line’s performance, the team has to be excited to see where the defensive unit’s level of play can go. Going forward, the team can use their newfound pass rush to pressure the opposing quarterback into making mistakes, which will help this young Cowboys’ secondary. The defensive resurgence, coupled with the play of Prescott and Elliott, can get the Cowboys back in the thick of the NFC race.
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