Game balls all around for the big men up front.
Sure, the rookie tandem of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott was again outstanding, but the main reason why the Cowboys were able to come away with an impressive 28-14 victory over the Bengals in front of 91,653 fans was because of the play of their offensive line.
In the week leading up to the game, Cincinnati's highly touted defense knew they'd have their hands full, defensive tackle Domata Peko saying, "We hear a lot about their offensive line and a lot about this Dallas Cowboys offense, but we'll see what happens Sunday. We might be hearing about this Bengals defense after this."
Yeah, not so much. The unit of Doug Free, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, Ronald Leary and Tyron Smith, who was back in the lineup after missing last week's game due to back spasms, simply manhandled the Bengals.
Opening up huge holes in the ground game, the Cowboys put up 181 rushing yards, led by Elliott who totaled 133 to remain on top of the NFL's rushing charts with 545 yards for the season. This marked the third straight game that he surpassed the century mark, the longest streak by a rookie running back in team history.
Dallas also ran for three scores, two by Elliott and another by Prescott, giving them 11 on the season, which already surpasses their total of eight from the entire 2015 campaign. In fact, Prescott's run to the end zone also gave him three rushing touchdowns on the season, which is the most by a Cowboys quarterback since Danny White totaled four in 1983.
Of course, where the quarterback really did his damage was through the air. Normally with plenty of time in the pocket, Prescott picked apart the Bengals secondary, totaling 216 yards while completing 73.0 percent of his passes (17 of 23) with a touchdown throw, and perhaps more importantly, no interceptions.
Thanks to those performances the Cowboys are the first team in NFL history to have a rookie quarterback with more than 1,000 yards passing and a rookie running back with at least 500 rushing yards through the first five games of a season.
But hey, while we're showering praise on the Cowboys offensive line, let's give a little love to the defensive line as well. After posting six sacks overall for the season, they recorded four alone in this one, Terrell McClain leading the way with 1.5 sacks with Cedric Thornton and Benson Mayowa each getting one, and Jack Crawford a half. The group harassed and hurried Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton all day, in part because of how well the Dallas secondary played in coverage.
In the former TCU star's first return to the Metroplex, Dalton threw for 269 yards and two late, meaningless touchdowns, but all-everything wide receiver A.J. Green was held to just four catches and 50 receiving yards without a score.
As they've done all season, the Cowboys got off to a quick start as they scored on their opening drive for the fourth time in five games. In this one it was a seven play, 64-yard series that saw Elliott rush the ball four times for 42 yards, the last of which was a 13-yard dash to paydirt for his fourth rushing touchdown of the year.
Dallas went on to score on both of its next two possessions as well, the first ending in Prescott' 5-yard run on a perfectly executed zone-read and dash around the right tackle. That was then followed with the quarterback rolling to his right and firing a pass to Cole Beasley for a 14-yard touchdown, the Cowboys eventually going into halftime with a 21-0 advantage.
If the visitors had any thoughts of a comeback, those were quickly squashed early in the third quarter. Cincinnati got close enough to attempt a 50-yard field goal, but kicker Mike Nugent pushed it left.
Then on the Cowboys' very next snap, Elliott dashed through a massive hole on the right side, split the safeties and scampered untouched 60 yards for the nail-in-the-coffin score. The touchdown run was the longest by the team since Joseph Randle scored from 65 yards out in 2014.
With that, the only real question remaining was whether the Cowboys could maintain the shutout.
Unfortunately, the blanking wouldn't hold. After Prescott fumbled in the red zone, his first turnover in 321 snaps, Dalton marched his team down the field and eventually found Brandon LaFell in the back of the end zone to get the Bengals on the board.
With the Cowboys in their prevent defense, LaFell would add another score later in the fourth quarter, but it was obviously too little too late. Once the Cowboys recovered the ensuing onside kick – by Elliott, no less – the game was over, Dallas winning 28-14.
With the Cowboys victory combined with the loss today by Philadelphia, Dallas is tied for first place in the NFC East with a 4-1 record. The team will now prepare for a showdown against the Packers next Sunday in Green Bay.
Go behind the lens and view some of our favorite photos from the Bengals vs Cowboys game at AT&T Stadium.