The only thing separating the Dallas Cowboys from being an NFL power might be their offense.
Continuing a run of subpar performances, the offense was limited to 328 yards and for all practical purposes two field goals in a 21-6 win over the New York Giants on Sunday.
Once again, the Cowboys’ defense led the way. For the third straight game, it forced four turnovers and had a hand in 15 points as Dallas (10-4) inched closer to a playoff berth and the NFC East title.
Quarterback Dak Prescott admittedly was frustrated after the game. Not, of course, with the win, which was the team’s third straight, all on the road. The Cowboys’ two touchdown drives covered 13 and 29 yards and both were set up by the defense.
“When we get to putting up points the way we want to put them up and not just settling for field goals, some large wins,” Prescott said of the thought of all phases of the Cowboys’ game being in gear. “But it just takes playing together and playing complementary football, rewarding those guys on defense for four touchdowns when they get those turnovers. And as I said, peaking at the right time is most important.”
The offense certainly has the tools. It had 10 plays of 10 yards or more on Sunday, pushing its season total to 209. It is averaging 400 yards in total offense, again close to the top of the league.
Dallas coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t mind his defense carrying the team, for now.
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“I think it’s OK we continue to play complementary football,” he said. “Trust me, we know who’s being productive and the things that we need to do a little better. I say it every week, they’re very accountable. They’ve got a really good work ethic. We’re about improving and winning. Frankly, winning and improving. We improved as a football team today. I think we needed to run the ball coming in here and we accomplished that part of it, so we’ll continue to chip away at our passing game.”
Prescott finished 28 of 37 for 217 yards. He didn’t throw an interception but lost a fumble on a strip-sack in the fourth quarter because he tried to wait for Amari Cooper to get open deep.
That’s been a problem lately. Teams are playing two-high coverage schemes against Dallas which forces it to grind the ball down the field. On Sunday, the Giants forced field goals. Prescott’s longest completion was 19 yards
There were some positives for the offense. Halfback Tony Pollard returned to the lineup and gained 74 yards on 12 carries. The line also got back guard Connor Williams and Terence Steele held his own starting at left tackle for the injured Tyron Smith.
Tight end Dalton Schultz also stepped up. He had eight catches for 67 yards, including a 1-yard TD catch after DeMarcus Lawrence and Neville Gallimore stuffed Mike Glennon on a fourth-down quarterback sneak from Giants 29 in the third quarter.
Jourdan Lewis’ interception after Lawrence hit Glennon set up Ezekiel Elliott’s 13-yard TD run.
“We’re definitely building,” Prescott said. “As I’ve said before, we’re trying to peak at the right time, make sure that we’re heading into the postseason with momentum, playing some of our best ball. Defense is doing that, offense still has some growth to do, but as you said, 3-0, three road games, that’s big. That’s big headed in the direction.”