FRISCO, Texas – When you win five straight games and move within an eyelash of a division title, there are a lot of reasons for the longest streak in the league:
Some obvious, some more subtle.
That's the focus this week as the Cowboys get set to hit the road for the first time in a month, now just one win away from the NFC East championship:
interceptions and sacks get the most attention, but the Cowboys are taking care of 'Line One' on defense (to borrow a Jason Garrett-ism).
The Cowboys have allowed only one 100-yard rusher this year, and their run defense has gotten stingier in these last five games. Dallas gave up 125 and 130 rushing yards in losses to Washington and Tennessee, respectively. Since then:
71 to Philadelphia on Nov. 11.
80 to Atlanta.
80 to Washington.
65 to New Orleans.
A season-low 34 to Philly last Sunday.
For the season, the Cowboys rank third in run defense (86.8 yards per game). They've allowed only 66.0 per game and 3.8 per carry during the streak.
Stop the run, force an unfavorable down and distance, and you've got a better chance of neutralizing some of the top quarterbacks they've faced in recent weeks: Ryan, Brees, Wentz.
the front office deserves credit for acquiring not just a talented receiver, but a true professional, when they traded for Amari Cooper in October.
To successfully incorporate a new receiver midseason, it takes repetition and focus from quarterback and wideout. The Cowboys know Dak Prescott's work ethic. They did their homework on Cooper's. Jerry Jones said they spoke with his college coach, Nick Saban, and his old Raiders coach, Jack Del Rio, a former Cowboys linebacker. Both raved about Cooper's approach.
Prescott's rapport with Cooper has improved week to week. That's what the numbers suggest, anyway, despite Prescott's interception Sunday while looking for Cooper near the end zone last Sunday.
Cooper has caught 40 of 54 targets in six games, including 26 catches on 30 targets in the last three. His 217-yard performance against Philly was the best by an NFL receiver this year.
It's no coincidence that Prescott is completing 75.1 percent of his passes in the last five games.
Everyone OK with the trade now? Look at it this way: it's possible next year's 'first-round pick' (Cooper) is in the Pro Bowl this year.
I Have No Idea…
what else Ezekiel Elliott could have done for his team last Sunday.
A career-high 40 touches. 192 scrimmage yards. And, as Bryan Broaddus pointed out in his game notebook, a wicked block that gave Prescott a necessary extra millisecond to get the ball to Cooper for the winning touchdown.
Elliott acknowledged he briefly lost feeling in his arm due to a stinger early in the fourth quarter when Eagles safety Corey Graham's helmet appeared to strike his right shoulder and neck area. After getting checked out by the medical staff, Elliott returned and finished the game.
On the final play of overtime, with the Eagles sending an all-out blitz, Elliott threw a block on Malcolm Jenkins with his right shoulder just before the safety could bust through the middle of the line.
It's those little things Elliott does that don't get discussed enough.
"Talk about a willing guy," Garrett said. "He sticks his nose in there."
It takes everybody to win five straight games, including your best player doing the dirty work.