FRISCO, Texas -- At this point in the season, the only thing stopping the Cowboys in the red zone is themselves.
That's one of the oldest clichés in sports, but it was actually true last weekend in San Francisco. After ripping off four-straight touchdowns inside the 20-yard line against the 49ers, the Cowboys missed on their final two opportunities of the game.
The reasons? They passed up a 32-yard field goal with 2:57 to play, opting to give Cooper Rush some additional work. Moments later, they kneeled out the clock from the San Francisco 12-yard line.
One might point to the 49ers' 0-7 record as a reason for the red zone efficiency, but that'd be disingenuous. Truth be told, the Cowboys are absolutely humming in the most crucial stretch of the field, as they've scored points on 14-of-17 trips into the red zone during the past month.
"I wouldn't say all cylinders, but we're definitely going the direction that we want to go," said Dak Prescott on Wednesday. "As I've said, we're playing up to our standards and our expectations of the way we expect to move the ball, the way we expect to get points."
It's not even just points, either. Obviously, Dan Bailey is one of the game's best kickers, and the Cowboys can't be happy about losing him to injury for the next few weeks. But after a slow start in September, the offense hasn't even needed him as often.
The Cowboys scored only touchdowns in San Francisco. Two weeks before that, they scored touchdowns on all four of their trips into the red zone. Bailey's only field goal of the day came from the 25-yard line.
It was a similar story against the Rams, with the offense finding the end zone in three-of-four red zone trips. Against Arizona, they were once again perfect.
"It's hard to say there's one thing that's changed," Prescott said. "If anything, we've just continued to keep faith and keep confidence in ourselves and continue with the same game plan we've been doing early and often this season. It's just starting to pick up this season, and we're getting into a groove and getting comfortable."
Perhaps he doesn't want to single himself out, but it's hard to believe Prescott's own abilities don't have a lot to do with that. On top of his accomplishments as a passer, Prescott has run for 104 total yards and three touchdowns in his last four games.
Combine that with the Cowboys' rushing abilities, as well as red zone weapons like Dez Bryant, and it gives defenses a lot to worry about in such a small amount of space.
"It's not just me running, it's a bunch of different aspects," Prescott said. "You name those guys that we've got out there at receiver, down in the red zone, that are hard to cover 15 yards and in. And then you've got the run game, when you're adding my run to the read, as well -- I mean, it's just tough."
The stats bear that out -- as has been outlined above. And while nothing is guaranteed in this game, it's certainly an encouraging trend for an offense that has been finding its footing over the past few games.
It might not be as easy as it looks, but for Prescott, it really might be as simple as keeping the offense out of its own way.
"For me, it's about not doing too much," he said. "Just trust in the play calling, trust in the players out there and just get them the ball and let them do what they do."