Maybe this time, the Dallas Cowboys really are ready to win without Tony Romo. Certainly a turnover-free Dak Prescott helps in that regard.
From the last game of the 2013 season through the end of last season, Dallas went 1-13 when Romo was unavailable. With fourth-round draft pick Prescott suddenly elevated to the starting QB spot when Romo hurt his back late in the preseason, the Cowboys will take a 1-1 record into next week's game against the Chicago Bears.
Prescott was 22 for 30 for 292 yards plus a 6-yard scamper for a touchdown in a 27-23 victory at the Washington Redskins on Sunday. That followed a one-point loss to the New York Giants in Week One.
"You see him do the right thing — and good things — when he's under pressure," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "He's like a sponge. ... He has an overachiever attitude about soaking it up."
The best sign for the future, according to teammates, was the way Prescott was calm during the 10-play, 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter that led to the go-ahead points on former Redskins running back Alfred Morris' 4-yard TD run.
"He treated it like it was the first play of the game," receiver Dez Bryant said. "It says a lot about him as a person. He was ready for this game. He is built for this kind of stuff."
What else we learned from Cowboys-Redskins:
Washington's game at the New York Giants next Sunday becomes quite significant. Coach Jay Gruden's Redskins are 0-2 ; the Giants are 2-0.
"We can hang our heads and cry all we want to," Gruden said, "but the fact of the matter is, we got a game at 1 o'clock next Sunday."
Asked in what ways his team regressed after winning the NFC East last season, Gruden replied: "I can't put my finger on them right now. I think it's a combination of a lot of things. We've got to fix them, quick." Among the problems: QB Kirk Cousins now has three interceptions and one TD this season.
Not only is Bryant going to become more and more involved in Dallas' offense — after one catch for 8 yards in Week One, he had seven for 102 yards against Washington — but it looks as if Cole Beasley could be Prescott's No. 2 target going forward , rather than Terrance Williams. Through two games, Beasley has 13 receptions for 140 yards; Williams has three catches for 34 yards, with zero targets Sunday.
Redskins DL Ricky Jean Francois wants to see his defensive coaches make more adjustments to counter what opposing offenses do. He sees a trend going back to last season.
"Every team that adjusts to us, we don't adjust to them," Jean Francois said. "Every team we play against, it just feels like they see something and they pounce on it and they keep doing it — and it feels like we're just not responding."
Dallas ran for 102 yards on 30 carries, and Jean Francois said it looked to him as if the Redskins were stuffing inside runs, so the Cowboys started taking rushing plays outside — and Washington never accounted for that.
Zeke's Ball Security
Seems a safe bet that Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, the No. 4 overall draft pick, is going to put in extra time working on protecting the football: He fumbled twice against Washington.
Morris said he told Elliott: "You have to have short-term memory. At the same time, you've got to be able to take care of the ball. If you don't take care of the ball, then you can't be on the field. That's just the way it goes."
Durant Steps Up
For a Dallas defense missing DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory and Rolando McClain because of suspensions, a familiar face could wind up with a bigger role than expected. LB Justin Durant played last season with Atlanta, but he's back with the Cowboys, and the nine-year pro broke up a fourth-and-1 pass with just under two minutes to play Sunday. He cut in front of a ball intended for Pierre Garcon, knocked it down.
"No other way that I can get that feeling — especially being in somebody else's place and feeling the air come out of the building," Durant said.