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Eatman: That's a blueprint for 'winning football'


ARLINGTON, Texas – Back in the offseason, when it was announced that Mike McCarthy would take over the play-calling, he made a comment about running the ball more this season.

That phrase has been echoed over and over and diagnosed to the highest degree as everyone tried to figure out exactly what that means for this year.

Well, to me, I think McCarthy had this Cowboys-Jets game in mind when he made that statement.

OK, so obviously he wasn't thinking about this Week 2 matchup that was supposed to be against Aaron Rodgers, but rather games that play out like this, where the defense is in total control of the game and the only way the opponent can really come back and win is if the offense and/or special teams makes a mistake.

Once again, they didn't do that. And once again, the Cowboys end up blowing out a team that entered the season with pretty high hopes of making the playoffs and perhaps doing some damage in the postseason.

But after two games, the Cowboys are simply jumping out to a lead and then grinding out the win, making sure there is no comeback on the table.

And if that means running the football a little more in the red zone when you've got an 11-point lead or a 14-point lead, so be it. That's the way you play "winning football" because that's what wins in this league.

Asked in his postgame press conference what "complementary football" means to him, Dak Prescott simply said one word: "winning."

To him, being efficient on all sides of the ball will result in victories like this – again.

Now, will the Cowboys get to do that every week? Of course not. There will be games in which they're going to have play more aggressive, take more shots into the end zone and certainly not settle for as many field goals.

But this was not one of those games. And honestly, it started in the first two drives on Sunday.

Say what you want about the analytics of winning the toss and deferring to the second half, but that's not what McCarthy did on Sunday, probably because he knows the importance of getting out to a lead.

It happened last week against the Giants. And for the most part, it happened against the Jets, too. Now, they didn't pull away until the second half, but they did get an early lead based off of taking the ball down the field and scoring right away.

That was a message. The next one was on the first play the Jets had the ball and DeMarcus Lawrence blasted through the line to tackle Breece Hall for a four-yard loss. We all knew the Jets had to establish the run to make a difference, and that was a sign that it wasn't going to happen on this day.

The Jets finished with just 54 rushing yards and 36 of that came from the quarterback on the move. Hall and Dalvin Cook combined for 16 rushing yards.

If you do that in any game, coupled with the pass-rush ability the Cowboys have, you're going to win a lot of games. And because of that, there's no time to make mistakes on offense.

So if you're a little worried about the offense because they're now averaging 28.5 points a game on that side of the ball, I'd relax a little bit.

If you're worried about the offense not scoring a touchdown in the second half or settling for too many field goals, then I hope you weren't one of those overly concerned about Dak's interceptions last year.

To me, you can't have it both ways. If you want the Cowboys take care of the football a little better, especially down in the red zone, then what you're going to get is games like this, where the Cowboys choose not to beat themselves and just keep kicking field goals and adding to the scoreboard.

I had no problem with the way the Cowboys were calling the game in the second half because it was clear to everyone that the Jets were not going to be able to move the ball up and down the field and catch up.

Here's another point to remember: McCarthy doesn't play fantasy football and he definitely doesn't care about your team either. He's not going to try to find ways to get everyone a touchdown to make them feel better. He didn't force the ball to Michael Gallup, who has yet to make an impact this year. He's not going to reward CeeDee Lamb for his monster-stat game by throwing a pass to him in the end zone.

No, it was running the ball with Tony Pollard, playing it safe with easy throws to the tight ends and making sure all the drives ended with points.

That's the recipe to win games like this. Is it the most exciting brand of football? No, probably not, except for the final result. But you can play this way because of an absolute dominating defense like this.

It's not fun football, not fantasy football, but it's winning football.

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