Cowboys use blocked kick to change momentum in soggy win

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 22: Ezekiel Elliott
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 22: Ezekiel Elliott /

Despite shooting themselves in the foot for a long stretch of the first half, the Dallas Cowboys won ugly in the driving rain versus Washington.

Let’s face it, if the Dallas Cowboys play like they played yesterday in the coming weeks, they’re going to lose more often than not. Running back Ezekiel Elliott fumbled on the first play from scrimmage. Penalties derailed the offense time and time again. The Washington offense took advantage and surged to a 13-7 lead.

But a very fortuitous bounce occurred late in the first half. With a little over three minutes to go before the break, the besieged Dallas defense blocked a field goal. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick nabbed the wayward football and weaved his way down the sideline before running out of gas at the Washington five yard line. Elliott scored soon thereafter.

Astonishingly, what should have been a 16-7 Washington advantage turned into a 14-13 Dallas lead that they would take to halftime. The Cowboys would never trail again. And while the sloppy play continued for the remainder of the game, they found a way to overcome their mistakes and win a division game on the road.

So instead of nitpicking a deceptively close 33-19 win, I’ll choose to focus on the positive. The aforementioned divisional road win is the most important takeaway. One need not apologize for winning as the away team in the NFL. As we all know, the league is a week-to-week venture. Furthermore, handing the ‘Skins their third divisional loss only helps the Cowboy case as the season progresses.

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I also think the case can be made for the weather profoundly affecting yesterday’s proceedings. The rain intensified–somewhat comically–as the game wore on. This made the Dallas ground game all the more effective. Conversely, Washington’s lack of a rushing attack and sole reliance on quarterback Kirk Cousins simply got exposed. The Redskins weren’t going to threaten with a running game in the first place, rain or shine, so the Dallas pass rush was able to pin their ears back and harass Cousins with impunity.

The end result wasn’t pretty by any stretch. But again, a win is a win. Quarterback Dak Prescott did not have his best game, but that was more likely due to inclement weather than incompetence. But if we’re searching for the true source of yesterday’s victory, it has to be the running game. Ezekiel Elliott posted 150 yards and two scores on a career high 33 carries. If this kid’s suspension comes to pass, the Cowboys are surely getting their money’s worth in the meantime. They worked him like a plow horse.

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There is no rest for the waterlogged, however. The 5-2 Chiefs come to town for a crucial tilt next Sunday. Whether or not Elliott will be allowed to play is anyone’s guess, but we should know soon enough. We will also see if these Cowboys possess what it takes to be considered an elite, championship-caliber team in the coming weeks. Adversity hit them early, and it’s about to come again.