Dallas Cowboys a pressure in NFC with or with out Ezekiel Elliott


ARLINGTON, Tex. — All the continual drama swirling round Ezekiel Elliott has overshadowed one thing that’s fairly noteworthy in its personal proper: The Dallas Cowboys actually have gotten their act collectively. They’re at the moment using a three-game successful streak. They simply beat a Kansas City Chiefs workforce that’s adequate to win the AFC. As a lot as individuals are questioning in regards to the standing of Elliott’s suspension, his potential loss would not look to be as deadly a blow because it as soon as appeared.

The Cowboys’ 28-17 win on Sunday revealed a few vital information. The first is that this workforce is now removed from the one which was languishing at 2-Three earlier this yr (and by some means suffered a 42-17 butt-badping by the hands of the immediately hapless Denver Broncos). The second is that the Cowboys have began to develop extra stability. They nonetheless have loads of offense, however their protection is enhancing with every pbading week.


What this implies is that the Philadelphia Eagles needs to be paying shut consideration, as ought to the New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks and every other workforce with professional postseason hopes. Dallas may be very a lot on this race, with Sunday’s effort offering additional proof of how far they’ve come this previous month. When requested the way it feels to be 5-Three, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott stated, “It’s huge, especially after a couple of those close losses that put us at 2-3. To stay focused, to stay within ourselves and what we want to do and believe in ourselves as a team … We’ve flipped the script and put ourselves in this position.”

In equity to the Cowboys, they have not needed to pull off a serious overhaul to enhance their fortunes. As Prescott talked about, they misplaced by 5 factors to the Los Angeles Rams after which they endured one more nightmarish rally by Aaron Rodgers in a 35-31 defeat to the Green Bay Packers. Those losses felt extra traumatic as a result of they occurred at house. If Dallas had managed to win simply a kind of video games, the countless discussions about their struggles would not be so intense.

The actuality is that the discuss this workforce’s hopes have centered round Elliott’s battles with the league for a lot too lengthy. Yes, he’s a game-changer, one who actually made an enormous distinction in Sunday’s victory (when he logged 27 carries for 93 yards and a landing). What the Cowboys are also proving is that there are different parts to this workforce that may be fairly useful. After all, Elliott wasn’t the one purpose for his or her win over Kansas City.

Prescott was his usually environment friendly self, as he accomplished 21 of 33 pbades for 249 yards and two touchdowns. A protection that struggled in these losses to the Rams and Packers contained a Chiefs offense that was averaging 29.5 factors a recreation. The Cowboys additionally unleashed large receiver Terrance Williams on the Kansas City secondary. He completed the competition with 9 receptions for 141 yards, together with some key catches that got here after star large receiver Dez Bryant left the sport with a sprained ankle.

This is what contenders do — they discover a number of methods to beat their opponents. The Cowboys managed this recreation early, main by a rating of 14-Three shortly earlier than halftime. They additionally rebounded after the Chiefs pulled off an incredible last-second play to shut the half — large receiver Tyreek Hill took a brief move and eluded a number of defenders earlier than scoring on a 56-yard landing — and took a 17-14 lead within the third quarter. Instead of wilting on the end, which had been an issue for this workforce earlier within the yr, the Cowboys closed.

“We came in here and nobody blinked,” Williams stated. “We all just stood into the fire and took it. We said we were going to come out and finish the game because normally, when we have leads like that, it’s hard to keep them. Today we just did a great job of grinding.”

Something else that’s changing into extra obvious is that this Dallas workforce has discovered a option to take care of all of the uncertainty swirling round their star operating again. Elliott has been dealing with a six-game suspension badociated to accusations of home violence for the reason that begin of this season. He’s been preventing the punishment in court docket for weeks, with some judges saying the suspension should be honored whereas others have granted him the flexibility to maintain enjoying. In truth, Elliott began this previous week with information that his suspension would begin instantly after which ended it with information on Friday that he might play on this recreation.

Some groups could be flustered by a lot uncertainty. The Cowboys have accepted that it is merely the hand they have been dealt this season, that they are higher off specializing in what they should do to achieve success. As head coach Jason Garrett stated, “I think our team has done a really good job of just focusing on the things we can control. That’s been our attitude all along and we preach it every day as coaches. Zeke has done a good job of that. There are some things he can’t control in this situation, but what he can control is his preparation — how he practices and how he plays.”


“It was a little rushed — I’m not going to lie,” stated Elliott, who has rushed for 876 yards and eight touchdowns this season. “I had no idea when I came in on Friday that I was going to have the chance to come in. I really didn’t know I was playing this weekend. So I came in Friday and practiced and spent all day Friday watching a lot of film. Saturday I was just trying to catch up to the team and catch up for what I lost.”

Dallas nonetheless has to face some troublesome selections with Elliott. Regardless of how a lot success he is had in avoiding a possible suspension so far, the tough actuality is that he will lose video games sooner or later. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady staged the same struggle with the league over his function in Deflategate, solely to wind up serving a four-game suspension at the beginning of final season. The saving grace for him was that his yr ended with a win over Atlanta within the Super Bowl.

The Cowboys might not like what is going on to Elliott, however they’re going to should weigh the prices of dropping him before later. This workforce at the moment is enjoying properly sufficient to win no less than three of the video games he’d should miss. The query is whether or not they’re comfy doing that now or in the event that they wish to danger not having him for a possible playoff recreation. At this stage, the latter alternative looks like too huge of venture to just accept.

Yes, Elliott is an indeniable star. He’s additionally one of many workforce’s emotional leaders, a man who can energize a room just by strolling into it. However, these Cowboys are nonetheless a younger workforce studying some useful issues about themselves. The greatest lesson to this point is that there is extra to their present success than simply having their finest participant on the sphere.


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