PHILADELPHIA – Dak Prescott was not interested in entertaining that same old storyline.
The Cowboys ran the ball well, and Prescott played four quarters of smart, turnover-free football. So, along came the obvious question: did Sunday's 27-20 win against the Eagles feel like 2016?
"I mean, that's two years ago. I don't go back and look and try to compare now to then," Prescott said. "This is the team we have, and when everything is clicking and we're playing the way we need to be playing, this is what we're capable of."
If that's true, then this was a tempting glimpse at what could be for the Cowboys.
For an offense that has floundered through the majority of this season, this game was a revelation – and there definitely were some familiar components.
For starters, the Cowboys ran the ball at will, rushing 28 times for 171 yards against the second-best run defense in the NFL. And if that wasn't good enough, they did it without their preferred starter at any of the spots along the interior of the offensive line.
In addition to the injuries to Travis Frederick and Connor Williams, Zack Martin also missed a solid chunk of the first quarter – not that it stopped Ezekiel Elliott from averaging nearly eight yards per carry.
"Those three guys in the interior that weren't starters at the beginning of the year, at one point were in there in the game doing a great job of moving the front and giving Zeke holes," Prescott said. "And Zeke was doing what he does best, finding them and making plays and making guys miss in the second level, it was huge."
When Elliott wasn't hurdling people or breaking through to the second level, Prescott was playing the efficient style of football he became known for early in his career.
To be fair, there were some missed throws – not to mention a near pick-six. At the end of the night, though, the Cowboys' quarterback had completed 72 percent of his passes for 270 yards and at touchdown, to go along with another touchdown on the ground.
Perhaps it was the balancing effect of adding Amari Cooper to the offense, or perhaps it was the rash of injuries currently crippling the Philadelphia secondary. Regardless, Prescott was able to get his weapons involved to a degree that hasn't been seen much this season. He completed passes to eight different receivers, hitting balls for gains of 25, 24, 23, 21 and 17.
"They didn't give as much single-high as we kind of expected going into this game, and maybe it's because of Cooper or whatever it was – but we were able to take advantage of them," he said.
To go back to the original point, it feels futile to compare this to 2016 because it has been so inconsistent. That 13-3 team rolled over nearly everyone it played, finishing with the league's second-best rushing offense in the process.
On the flip side, it was honestly shocking to see the Cowboys run over this Eagles team, given the way Elliott was bottled up by the likes of Houston, Washington and Tennessee in recent weeks.
But seeing them do it had to be encouraging for those that are trying to solve the Cowboys' offensive woes. To paraphrase team owner/general manager Jerry Jones, if you've seen them do it once, that means they can do it again.
With another road trip looming next week, Prescott and his teammates won't have to wait long to settle that speculation. In the meantime, the hope is that this is the start of a new trend."We've just got to use this as momentum and continue to grow," he said. "This is a winning team, and it's great when you go on the road and win – it's the first time doing that this year. It's important for us to feel that, feel that energy in the locker room and make sure we don't forget that."