Cowboys vs. Cardinals score, takeaways: Dak, Lawrence dominate as Dallas rolls
Dak Prescott was efficient and explosive and DeMarcus Lawrence was dominant in the Cowboys win
The Dallas Cowboys did not get off to a very good start on "Monday Night Football" in Week 3. But as the Cowboys well know, it's not about how you start, it's about how you finish.
And boy, did they finish this one in style. They turned an early deficit into a 28-17 victory, despite the fact that they were absolutely blown off the field for the first 15 minutes of the game.
Once the first quarter ended, the Cowboys proceeded to slowly but surely take over. They were helped by two Arizona drives that stalled deep in their own territory, allowing Dallas to march down the field for two touchdowns on drives that totaled 79 yards combined. They were helped also by a missed field goal from Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson, who was brought in to fix the kicking game that so plagued Arizona last season.
Those few Arizona mistakes were all Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and company needed to put their stamp on the football game. Dak got off to a slow start, but eventually wound up having an three-touchdown evening. Zeke was bottled up for much of the early part of the game, but ripped off runs of 30 yards and 20 yards, and later added a game-sealing touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
And the much-maligned Cowboys defense, after a horrid start, stepped up and did its job. DeMarcus Lawrence dominated the game (more on that below), but Sean Lee, Jeff Heath, and especially, third-year safety Byron Jones, sophomore defensive tackle Maliek Collins, and rookie corner Jourdan Lewis all played big roles in the Cowboys slowing down an Arizona offense that looked like it was going to have a field day in the early going. That clamping down, plus a few timely bursts of offensive effectiveness (the ball-control Cowboys only had the ball for 23:45), was all Dallas ultimately needed.
Here are a few more things to know from the Cowboys' 28-17 win.
National anthem update
Players and teams all around the NFL demonstrated in various ways during the national anthem on Sunday, and to a certain extent that carried over to Monday night.
Nobody on either the Cowboys or Cardinals kneeled or sat during the actual singing of the national anthem by Jordin Sparks -- both teams stood locked arm in arm, along with coaches, owners, and executives.
Prior to the anthem, however, every member of the Cowboys, along with Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, Jerry Jones Jr., Jason Garrett and the rest of the coaching staff,A portion of the crowd on hand at University of Phoenix Stadium booed that gesture, but the Cowboys were on their feet by the time the anthem actually started.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, locked arms while standing side-to-side along the goal line.
Dak and Zeke bounce back
Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott were absolutely bottled up by the Denver Broncos last week. Dak was picked twice and threw for only 238 yards on 50 attempts, while Zeke ran for a career-low eight yards on nine carries. The kids were alright in this one, bouncing back to score all four Cowboys touchdowns in the victory.
Dak was not called on to throw 50 times like he was last week, going 13 of 18 for 183 yards with two touchdowns, but the game was very much in his hands. He ran the read-option several times (three carries for 16 yards), including once down near the goal line for Dallas' first score of the game.
He made a bunch of incredible plays outside the pocket, showing off his ability to make pinpoint throws on the run. Brice Butler was the beneficiary on the two most miraculous of those plays, pulling in a sweet touchdown grab as well as another long catch down the sideline.
Late in the fourth, Elliott capped the evening with his first rushing touchdown of the season.
Zeke wound up with only 80 yards on 22 carries, but that was a major improvement on last week's effort. He'll get going soon enough.
No. 1 vs. No. 1
Dez Bryant has faced as tough a slate of cornerbacks during the first three weeks of the season as anybody in football. He started with the Giants' Janoris Jenkins in Week 1, dealt with the Broncos' Aqib Talib in Week 2, and on Monday went toe-to-toe with the Cardinals' Patrick Peterson.
Dez was neither explosive nor efficient in the first two games, catching nine passes for 102 yards and a touchdown ... on 25 combined targets. (He probably should have had another touchdown against Jenkins but Dak airmailed a throw about 10 feet over Dez's head.)
Going into Week 3, he had his work cut out for him against Peterson.
At halftime, Dez had just one catch for negative-three yards, and Peterson's numbers looked even better.
Early in the second half, though, Dez made some magic happen. I mean, just look at this and try not to be impressed. You won't be able to stop yourself from throwing up the X when you see what Dez did.
That touchdown catch was the 69th of Dez's career, the sixth-most all time in a player's first 100 career games (tied with a guy named Rob Gronkowski). Dez finished the night with only those two catches for 12 yards and that score, so Peterson did a heck of a job, but Dez certainly made the most impressive play of the evening.
Cardinals injury-riddled OL vs. Cowboys maligned DL
The Cardinals came into this game without two of their five starting offensive linemen, as both D.J. Humphries and Mike Iupati were out with injuries. The Cowboys, as we know, do not have the world's greatest pass rush, and they are still without arguably their most talented defensive lineman (hybrid tackle/end David Irving) until Week 5.
So this was a matchup that pitted the stoppable force against the moveable object. At least, that's what we thought. Because DeMarcus Lawrence was absolutely unstoppable all night, and Jared Veldheer will probably be seeing Lawrence in his nightmares for years.
(Of course, Lawrence's representation was indeed paying very close attention.)
Lawrence racked up four pressures in the first half alone, and finished the night with six quarterback hits and three sacks to get to 6.5 on the season. He generally just lived in the backfield all night long.
He's having one heck of a contract year and giving the Cowboys the go-to pass-rusher they need on the left side of their defensive line.
Larry Fitz has still got it
Larry Fitzgerald is 34 years old, but really, we all know he's actually ageless.
Fitzgerald is just as good as ever, and he proved it once again in this game. He was basically the entire Cardinals' offense unto himself. Carson Palmer was working without deep threat John Brown, and David Johnson is obviously still out with his dislocated wrist, so Palmer turned to Fitz again and again.
Doing so paid off: Larry finished the night with 13 catches on 15 targets for 149 yards and a sick TD grab (which wasn't even his best catch of the night, see above), where he made Cowboys corner Anthony Brown (who was one of the best defensive backs in the NFL down the stretch of last season and was off to a good start this year) look silly.
On that same drive, Fitzgerald moved into eighth place on the all-time receiving yards list.
He has a pretty good chance to move up as high as third on that list by the end of the season, as he's only a few hundred yards behind Randy Moss for that spot right now. It's been a heck of a career for Fitz, who will be enshrined in Canton approximately five years to the day after he hangs up his spikes for good.
Palmer joins legends
We should throw a shout-out to Carson Palmer here, who on Monday night became the fourth player in NFL history to throw at least 100 touchdown passes with two different teams. He is in impressive company there, as the only three players to accomplish the feat before him were Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, and Fran Tarkenton.
Also, Palmer wore this to the game:
Looks like he was the one thatthis week.
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