The Dallas Cowboys have an 11 game winning streak and are constantly proving they’re the best team in the NFL.
This Dallas Cowboys team is different than any other team in franchise history because of the extraordinary things it has accomplished this season.
Of all of the great teams this historic franchise has produced, none of them have won 11 consecutive games in one season or won this many games with rookies at running back, quarterback, and an overachieving defense.
That’s a remarkable feat no matter how you look at it.
Unlike the ultra talented Cowboys teams of the past (the ones who were expected to win), this particular Cowboys team has had to stay focused, and take it one game at a time.
In the sports world, the cliche “one game at a time” is used loosely and means different things for certain teams. But for this team, the age old adage fits perfectly because of a few things this team had to overcome.
One of the first things this team had to deal with was the injury to their starting QB, Tony Romo. The Pro Bowl quarterback had broken his vertebra in a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, and Dallas was forced to start rookie Dak Prescott in his place.
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This is where the “one game” approach began.
Although Dak played outstanding in the preseason, the regular season was perceived to be a challenge for the fourth rounder out of Mississippi State.
Because Dak was a rookie, and playing with an average defense, the Cowboys were expected to struggle big time on both sides of the ball.
Instead, the Cowboys coaching staff took the slow approach with the rookie.
Going into each game, head coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan used plays tailored to Dak’s strengths. Athletic and strong, Linehan knows when to use a read option play, which creates chaos for opposing linebackers.
Plays like that gives the Cowboys the advantage because of rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, who can take it to pay dirt. Defenders are forced to pick their own poison.
Since each team is different, Dallas has kept the offensive game plan simple, to some degree. This team has leaned heavily on the running game, and used different offensive formations to maximize their opportunities against opposing teams.
For example, in the first game of the season against the New York Giants, Dallas ran the ball 30 times for for 101 yards and one touchdown. As a result, Dallas won the TOP (time of possession) with 36 minutes to the Giants 23 minutes.
Further, Dallas converted 10 of 17 third downs that game.
Dak passed for 227 yards with no touchdowns and no turnovers. The key stat is no turnovers. And that’s been part of this team’s blue print during this winning streak is not turning over the ball. Dak has only two interceptions this season.
Dallas lost that game because of dropped touchdown passes by Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley. Not to mention Terrance Williams stayed in bounds, forfeiting Dan Bailey the opportunity to kick a long distance field goal to win the game.
But the overall tone was set for the rest of the season. One game at a time.
With Dak as the field general, Dallas had no choice but to it as one game at a time and not overload the rookie, even though he’s played like a veteran. This approach has given the Cowboys laser-like focus. This team has been prepared for each and every game, not over looking sorry teams like the Cleveland Browns.
Dallas went into Cleveland and beat the Browns like they stole their lunch money. This win came after Dallas’ come- from- behind victory over the hated Philadelphia Eagles. There was no hangover.
When you look at some of the teams the Cowboys have played (Skins, Steelers, and Vikings), they had to play them differently. As Site expert Reid Hanson pointed out, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli rushed three down linemen and dropped one extra man in coverage against the Steelers and Skins.
Since Dallas’ pass rush is inconsistent to say the least, Marinelli had to be creative to give this team an edge. The defense gave up a ton of passing yards, but they found a way to win those games.
Against the Vikings, Marinelli did more blitizing than normal, and utilized stunting. It was effective because the defense was able to get to the quarterback.
Marinelli’s defensive schemes is just one example of how Dallas is taking it one game at a time. Because of Dallas’ shortcomings, it has no choice but to do this.
I like this approach because the Cowboys have been the underdog in several games, proving the naysayers wrong. I’m very aware that teams game plan differently for each opponent.
But when a team lacks a dominant pass rush, and its best corner is injured (Morris Claiborne), it must adjust and do things differently to win games.
Even though Dak is playing like a Pro Bowler, Linehan is not about to let him throw 50 times a game when this team has the best offensive line in the league.
Dallas will continue to lean heavily on Zeke to run for over a hundred yards every game and for Dak to continue to make smart decisions and lead to this team to victory.
Remember, it’s one game at a time to get to the Super Bowl.
And win it all.