By Dwain Price
ARLINGTON — Yet another game saw yet another impressive win by the powerful Dallas Cowboys.
As of now, the expectations for America’s Team has elevated to even greater heights after the Cowboys pummelled the New York Giants, 44-20, this past Sunday at AT&T Stadium. It was the fourth straight win for the Cowboys and increased their NFC East-leading record to 4-1.
And this time the Cowboys slapped the Giants around in so many ways.
Quarterback Dak Prescott passed for 302 yards and three touchdowns. And with Ezekiel Elliott rushing for 110 yards on 21 carries, the Cowboys pounded out 201 rushing yardage while completely outmanning the Giants.
Not to be outdone, Trevon Diggs intercepted his NFL-high sixth interception. And his partner in crime in the secondary — Anthony Brown — closed out Sunday’s scoring by darting 45 yards for a touchdown following his interception.
In piling up 503 total yards, this was as complete a game as any team can get. Which begs the question: What is the Cowboys’ ceiling?
“We don’t show up to work and plan or think about having a ceiling,” said Prescott, who completed 22-of-32 passes. “I don’t think we have any limits on what we do as an offense, whether it’s the run game, passing game and really as a team.
“Whether it’s the offense that’s struggling, the defense has to pick it up for us, or vice versa. I think time and time again we’re getting different reps in different situations to show that just the comradeship and the brotherhood, the way that we’re playing complimentary football we’re going to play off of one another. It’s exciting.”
It’s exciting because, save for that two-point road loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on opening day, the Cowboys have been on cruise control.
The 44 points were a season high for the Cowboys and marked the fourth time they’ve scored as many as 30 points in a game this year, and the second time they’ve put up at least 40 points on the board. In all, this is the first time the Cowboys have been 4-1 since 2016, when they finished with a 13-3 record and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs.
“We’ve competed five times now and I’ve felt like we’ve played winning football in all five contests,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “We were looking for more production (Sunday) and I felt we took a step in the right direction.”
Diggs certainly took a giant step – in the same direction he’s stepped all season long. The second-year veteran now has at least one interception in all five games this season while making a strong claim that he could wind up winning the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award.
“I was standing there with Dak, and I’ll use his words: ‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ “ McCarthy said. “The ball goes up in the air and he’s coming down with it. I don’t even think it’s a 50/50 ball anymore.
“He’s playing at an extremely high level — confidence off the charts. Just the way he goes after the football, it’s unique. I just think his confidence and even his tackling. He’s improving in his tackling. Just the energy and big play ability that he brings, not only to our defense, but to our football team.”
Diggs’ six interceptions ties the team record set by Don Bishop for the most interceptions through the season’s first six games. His interception Sunday set up a 38-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein and padded the Cowboys’ lead to 27-13 late in the third quarter.
“I’ve got my goals at the end of the day,” Diggs said. “But I’m really focused on taking it one game at a time, just trying to dominate – dominate everyone that comes in front of me.
“That’s the main goal. If I keep doing that, step-by-step, the sky’s the limit. I don’t know where I can go.”
Elliott ran in a touchdown from 13 yards out to pad Dallas’ lead to 34-13 with 7:34 remaining in the game. Afterwards, he lauded the fact that the Cowboys ran and hid from the Giants after only leading, 17-13, less than four minutes into the second half.
“Yeah, we didn’t play that well,” said Elliott, who also caught a touchdown pass. “We had (two) turnovers early, we turned the ball over in the red zone.
“We got the job done, but we’ve got to focus on playing a complete game. I said last week that’s our next step as a team – playing a complete game and dominating a team from the first quarter through the fourth quarter. We’ve got some work to do.”
If scoring 44 points and stomping a divisional rival by 24 points translates into meaning the Cowboys have more work to do, the rest of the NFL is in a heap of trouble whenever the Cowboys start firing on all cylinders. In the meantime, as they prepare for this Sunday’s 3:25 p.m. tipoff at the New England Patriots, the Cowboys will try not to pat themselves on the back too much.
“I think it’s about living in the present, not getting too infatuated with the future either,” Prescott said. “Just living in the moment, enjoying this win (over the Giants).
“It’s about the growth. There was a lot of growth, I guess is what you’re looking for, out there on the field (Sunday). Handling different adversity, handling different situations, being able to finish the game.”
Part of that adversity resulted from Prescott knowing that the game against the Giants was nearly one year to the day since he suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle in the same stadium against the same team. He tried not to think about that on Sunday, but. . .
“It’s in the back of your head unconsciously or not,” Prescott said. “I didn’t quite feel as energetic or as myself earlier in the game and I don’t know if that played a part in it or not.
“Once that touchdown to CeeDee (Lamb made it 10-0 Dallas early in the second quarter), it was kind of when I started rolling and got into the groove. I’m grateful to be, as you said, almost a year past this thing, but I’m thankful for just the way I’ve grown and everything it’s allowed me to learn about myself and the support that I’ve had through it all. I’m just blessed and grateful.”
And the Cowboys are grateful to be two games ahead of Washington and Philadelphia in the NFC East.
“I am encouraged that our best football is ahead of us,” Elliott said. “Right now we’re not peaking.
“It’s a long season. We want to be sure we’re peaking at the right time. We just have to keeping working week in and week out to reach where we want to go.”