SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Cowboys beat a team that hasn't won a game all season long.
The Cowboys beat a team playing a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start.
The Cowboys won a "road" game with half the fans wearing Blue and Silver and have only improved their record to 3-3.
Should they be excited about this? Damn right, they should be. This is a big-time win for a Cowboys team in more ways than one.
When you think about all of the factors surrounding this team – yes, all of them – it was a great job of focusing on the task at hand and getting the job done. Not only did they get it done, but got it done early and out of the way.
The Cowboys left no doubt who would win this game, dominating the first quarter to set the tone on what kind of day this was going to be.
No kicker? No problem? Not usually in this league and not with this team. That's how convincing this game was – the Cowboys beat a team without a real kicker for most of the day and didn't need one. Now, moving forward it's likely they will need to address that situation if Dan Bailey can't kick this weekend. I don't think the Cowboys can win a road division game against the Redskins with Jeff Heath kicking the ball.
But next week is next week. Let's save that for another day.
The Cowboys hadn't played in two weeks but it felt like two months since that Green Bay Packers game that ended in heartbreak.
When you think about what has transpired since then? It's really amazing the Cowboys were able to block it all out and get out of this game with a 30-point win.
Here's what has happened since Aaron Rodgers stole a win in AT&T Stadium:
- For starters, Rodgers isn't even playing anymore and is likely done for the season with a broken collarbone he suffered the next week. The Cowboys have had their share of breaks when it comes to facing teams without star players such as Odell Beckham and David Johnson. But they faced Rodgers and the Packers at their best and couldn't get the win. Since then, Green Bay is now 0-2 and its season is in trouble with Rodgers likely out.
- Now that doesn't really pertain to the Cowboys. The stuff that does includes running back Ezekiel Elliott. Since the Cowboys' last game, Zeke saw his suspension restored on Friday of the bye week, only to be lifted again by a TRO from the New York District Judge. Talk about a rollercoaster of emotions for both Elliott and a coaching staff that is trying to formulate a game plan. He's playing, now he's not, now he's playing again. Give Zeke a ton of credit for being able to block out all the distractions and still churn out his best game of his career statistically.
- One of the biggest stories in sports right now is the anthem protests and how teams are dealing with it across the league. Since the last game, which included two players raising their first at the end, there has been plenty of discussions with the team and owner Jerry Jones, who said he met with the players in a private meeting. Regardless of what the players and the coaches and the team administration think about the issue, it's clearly an issue. It's something to think about it, talk about and meet about. It's another potential distraction the Cowboys were able to overcome.
- How about some football-related things? The Cowboys have made roster changes of significance, especially if you're keeping score on the team's free-agent signings. This won't be the best veteran class the Cowboys have ever signed – maybe the worst. In two weeks, the Cowboys decided to part ways with veteran cornerback Nolan Carroll and saw defensive tackle Stephen Paea decide to retire from football at the age of 29. And this week, Damontre' Moore was not even active in somewhat of a surprising move. Especially considering the Cowboys also deactivated Benson Mayowa as well for this game. There obviously is more to that story because Taco Charlton hasn't exactly lit it up in his first five games. So the decision to sit the two vets and roll with Taco was odd to say the least.
- Speaking of going with a rookie over the veteran … the Cowboys made another change Sunday, playing Cooper Rush instead of Kellen Moore at backup quarterback. Who knows, maybe the Cowboys had a hunch this game would get out of hand and Rush could get some snaps. Or, which is the more likely scenario, the rookie is just outplaying Moore in practice and the Cowboys need to see him in action in case they might have to use him.
- What's really interesting about the quarterback situation is what happened with Dan Bailey during the game. And throw that in as yet another hurdle to clear, although this one happened in the game. But if the Cowboys need to go find a kicker for a week or two with Bailey recovering from a groin injury, they will need the roster spot from somewhere. If Moore isn't going to be active on game days, then it probably makes sense to use that spot and maybe get him back on the practice squad. That's obviously something to watch.
That's quite a bye week for any team. But the Cowboys showed up like they're supposed to – refreshed, focused and ready to win.
Say what you want about the 49ers, but I don't think anyone else was blowing them out like that. In fact, they were the only team in NFL history with five straight losses by three points or less. Some might say the 49ers were due, and maybe they are.
But the Cowboys were long overdue themselves. After what they've gone through the past few weeks, it was about time this team started resembling the team we all think they can be.