With all due respect to the very best stage of soccer, this Dallas Cowboys season is beginning to really feel quite a bit like one you would possibly see from a very proficient school crew. It is a becoming parallel, given the time of 12 months. Down within the collegiate ranks, convention championships have simply been determined and the all-important Faculty Soccer Playoff area is ready. Soccer factories like Georgia and Michigan can lastly cease rolling over their overmatched opposition and switch their focus towards a worthy foe.
Sounds a bit acquainted, proper? As a result of, as they hurtle towards a Christmas Eve rematch in opposition to 11-1 Philadelphia, it is truthful to surprise if the Cowboys look a bit bored. Their successful streak now at three video games, Dallas is firmly entrenched among the many brief checklist of Tremendous Bowl contenders. Extra importantly, these final two efforts have not even been all that full.
Take into consideration how loopy that sounds. The Cowboys trailed the Giants 13-7 at halftime on Thanksgiving earlier than flipping the swap and cruising to a 28-20 win. Sunday night’s 54-19 brutalization of Indianapolis was much more jarring. As late as the three:43 mark within the third quarter, this gave the impression to be a soccer sport. The Colts had used fast passes and screens successfully to mitigate the Cowboys move rush, and Dak Prescott and the Dallas offense had made a handful of impactful errors. The rating was 21-19 — a typical sport to function one other reminder of the problem of taking part in within the NFL. Till it wasn’t.
Prescott guided his group 75 yards, culminating in a 3-yard landing move to Michael Gallup, to create a two-possession cushion. A mere 18 seconds later, Malik Hooker might scoop up a Colts fumble and return it 38 yards for a landing, and the story was written. By the point it was over, the Cowboys had scored a franchise-record 33 factors within the fourth quarter. They completed the evening with 5 takeaways — 4 of them coming in that frantic last interval, turning a worrying night right into a laugher within the blink of a watch.
“We stand up a pair factors, let these guys hunt and get turnovers, and we’re a harmful crew when that occurs,” Prescott mentioned afterward.
Harmful would not really feel prefer it does this justice. The Cowboys chalked up the very best rating in an NFL sport this season and did not want an excessively spectacular day from their quarterback to do it.
The 5 takeaways do not damage, both. Rookie cornerback DaRon Bland notched two interceptions of Ryan, and Hooker swung the momentum of the sport simply earlier than halftime when he dove for a tip drill interception, serving to the offense to go rating for a 21-13 halftime lead.
The narrative clearly wasn’t misplaced on Hooker. Two takeaways and his first NFL landing made this among the best video games of his professional profession — and who higher to do it to than Indianapolis, the crew that made him the No. 15 general choose within the 2017 NFL Draft?
“I simply needed to come back out right here and show that I am nonetheless the participant I used to be drafted to be, and I feel I confirmed that tonight,” Hooker mentioned.
Even the gameplay resembled that of a school sport, the place powerhouses can empty their benches and put much more top-tier expertise on the sphere.
For all of the star energy of the Cowboys, from Prescott to Micah Parsons to CeeDee Lamb, the ultimate touches of this blowout had been utilized by newcomers. Bland, drafted within the fifth spherical this previous spring, has gotten onto the sphere partly due to accidents to the veterans on the depth chart. The fumble that Hooker returned for a landing was punched out by Damone Clark— a fellow fifth-round rookie getting his ft moist on protection. The ultimate factors of the evening got here on a 23-yard rumble from Malik Davis, one other rookie signed as an undrafted free agent.
In fact, it is truthful to level out that this was an anticipated consequence. The Colts are a middling crew with a head coach working his fourth profession sport. There is a motive the Cowboys had been favored by a whopping 10.5 factors.
Nonetheless, we have seen the Cowboys at their crispest — the 40-3 pasting of 10-2 Minnesota involves thoughts. Regardless of how lopsided the ultimate rating would possibly look, this was not as clear of an effort.
For Dallas to look this dominant, on this gradual of a begin, calls to thoughts the faculty sport. And it makes one awfully anxious to see what they’re going to do in opposition to an opponent extra worthy of their time.
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David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports activities. He beforehand spent 9 seasons protecting the Cowboys for the crew’s official web site. In 2018, he gained a regional Emmy for his position in producing “Dak Prescott: A Household Reunion” concerning the quarterback’s time at Mississippi State. Comply with him on Twitter @davidhelman_.
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