Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we've got us a contender.
Behind another standout performance from rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, the Cowboys took another step toward proving the skeptics wrong by going into Green Bay and defeating the Packers 30-16. It marked only the team's second victory at historic Lambeau Field in Dallas' 57-year history.
In doing so, Prescott just keeps checking off boxes, this time going into perhaps the toughest road environment in the NFL and coming out on top. And yes, there were times when he looked all the part of a rookie, as he threw his first interception and had yet another fumble, but he kept his poise and still completed 66.7 percent of his passes (18 of 27) for 247 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.
Again, Prescott benefited from the outstanding play of his offensive line, which not only gave him time in the pocket, but also came away from the challenge of facing the top-ranked rushing defense in the NFL as clearly the superior side. Green Bay had surrendered an average of only 42.8 rushing yards per game, but thanks to the big men up front, Ezekiel Elliott dashed and darted for 157 rushing yards, the fourth consecutive game he's topped the 130 mark, an NFL record.
Of course, these days that's becoming somewhat expected. What continues to perhaps be the bigger surprise is the play of the Dallas defense. Aaron Rodgers has historically carved up the team, but not on this day. While the Cowboys rarely were able to provide much pressure, the secondary was for the most part outstanding, especially considering that they were already without Orlando Scandrick and Morris Clairborne left with an injury in the second quarter.
While Rodgers and the Packers were often able to move the ball, the quarterback finishing with 294 passing yards, the Cowboys were able to get timely turnovers and big stops when they needed them. In all, the defense recorded one interception and three fumble recoveries and didn't allow Green Bay to reach the end zone until the game was already well decided.
Once again, the Cowboys got off to a strong start, putting points on the board on their opening possession for the fifth time in six games. In this one it was a 75-yard drive on eight plays that saw the team run the ball four times for 23 yards and pass it on four snaps for 46 more. The series was capped off with Prescott finding Cole Beasley for a short 1-yard touchdown completion.
[embeddedad0]After that, though, things got sloppy, as both teams saw penalties, dropped passes, turnovers and general ho-hum play. The Packers' Mason Crosby kicked field goals of 37 and 43 yards with the Cowboys' Dan Bailey responding with a 44-yard boot, the score now 10-6 with a minute remaining in the second quarter.
And when the Cowboys started their possession at their own 3-yard line, the assumption was they would simply run out the clock. But after Elliott carried the ball twice for a combined 9 yards, and the Packers helped the cause by stopping the clock after each run with timeouts, Dallas suddenly found a spark.
First Lucky Whitehead took a sweep around the left end for 26 yards, which was immediately followed by Prescott finding Terrance Williams for a big 42-yard gain. The quarterback then threw a perfect back-shoulder fade to Brice Butler in the back of the end zone, wrapping up a five play, 97-yard drive that took only 33 seconds and gave the Cowboys a 17-6 lead at the half.
Determined to turn things around, the Packers came out of the break marching and were able to cross midfield before Barry Church stepped in front of a Rodgers' offering for his second interception of the year. That, in turn, resulted in a 22-yard Bailey field goal.
It was more of the same on Green Bay's next possession, as the Packers again drove on the Cowboys, this time reaching the Dallas 1-yard line before Rodgers fumbled on a quarterback draw, defensive lineman David Irving getting the sack, causing the fumble and even recovering the prize.
Unfortunately, just three plays later Prescott threw his first career interception, as he tossed one behind Jason Witten and to the arms of Packers safety Morgan Burnett. The pick was his first in 177 attempts, which broke the NFL record of 162 held by Tom Brady for the most passing attempts to start a career before an interception.
But even though Green Bay was set up at the Dallas 16-yard line, the defense held, limiting the home team to a 34-yard field goal, the Cowboys' lead now 20-9 early in the fourth quarter.
What the Cowboys needed was another impressive drive, something to stop any thoughts of momentum the Packers might have.
They got it.
Dallas proceeded to put up a seven-play 75-yard drive to once again find the end zone, the big blow coming when Prescott found Whitehead behind the defense for a 35-yard pass completion. But it was Beasley who got the glory once more, hauling in a 4-yard pass for the score.
With that, the Packers were all but done. The Cowboys added another Bailey field goal late, this time from 32 yards out, before recording yet another fumble recovery to ice the game.
Dallas now heads into its bye week sitting alone atop the NFC East with an impressive 5-1 record. They'll next host the rival Philadelphia Eagles in prime time on Sunday, October 30, at AT&T Stadium.
View some of our favorite photos from the Dallas Cowboys game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.