Good teams take care of business. It isn't always pretty, but they beat who they're supposed to beat.
And while this one definitely didn't go as planned in the first half, in the end the Dallas Cowboys did what they were supposed to do against the Miami Dolphins, defeating the visitors, 31-6, to move to 3-0 on the young season, the first time they've won their first three games since the 2008 campaign.
While Dak Prescott might not have equaled his impressive numbers from the first two weeks, he was still efficient, throwing for 246 yards with two touchdown passes and his first rushing score of the season to earn a 91.4 passer rating.
His running was part of a larger ground game that racked up 236 rushing yards, the first time the Cowboys have posted back-to-back 200-yard efforts since the 2009 season, having finished with 213 yards last week at Washington. Ezekiel Elliott barreled his way to 125 rushing yards, his second straight week eclipsing 100, while rookie Tony Pollard finished with 103 yards, his first time topping the century mark.
Behind that performance, Dallas put up 476 yards of total offense, converting 50 percent of their third-down chances and four of their five red-zone opportunities, continuing a successful trend to the start of this season.
Despite the lopsided score, the Dolphins came out like they wanted to make a game of it, connecting on a 40-yard pass from Josh Rosen to DaVante Parker to get into field goal range on their first possession. But Jason Sanders' 47-yard field goal narrowly sailed wide right and from them on it was all Cowboys.
Dallas responded with a field-goal of its own, a chip-shot 28-yarder from Brett Maher, and then came right back with a nine-play, 54-yard drive to score the day's first touchdown. The series was highlighted by a third-and-20 conversion that saw Prescott and tight end Jason Witten improvise for a 33-yard catch-and-run down the right sideline. Amari Cooper got the scoring honors, though, bringing in a 5-yard pass to give him touchdowns in each of the Cowboys' first three contests, the longest such streak of his career.
But despite the early 10-0 lead, the game would soon become uncomfortably tight, thanks to the way Josh Rosen and the Miami offense were moving the ball against Dallas. The visitors were able to get deep into Cowboys territory on three of their next four possessions, converting fields goals on each of the first two to narrow the advantage.
And the Dolphins were knocking on the doorstep again as the second quarter came to a close, reaching the Dallas 7-yard line where they had a first-and-goal. But linebacker Jaylon Smith was able to knock the ball loose from Kenyan Drake on a run up the middle, DeMarcus Lawrence quickly falling on the ball to stop the threat and keep the score 10-6 after two quarters of play.
At this point, the stat sheet certainly didn't look good for the lethargic Cowboys. Miami came into this affair averaging 192 yards of total offense per game, but at halftime, they already had 216 total yards and had completed five passes of at least 19 yards. Meanwhile, Dallas had just 204 total yards and was losing the time of possession, 16:11 to 13:49.
But for all the frustration with the first 30 minutes, the Cowboys found their groove in the second half of football, reaching pay dirt on each of their first two possessions after the break. And Prescott continued his near perfect play in the third quarter.
To kick things off, the offense needed just five plays to go the 75 yards to pay dirt on its first possession of the third. After an apparent 74-yard touchdown was called back due to a penalty, Prescott simply bounced back with completions of 33 yards to Devin Smith, 20 to Randall Cobb and then finally a 19-yarder to Cooper for the score.
He then did the honors himself on the next drive. After completing all five of his pass attempts, he capped off the nine play, 76-yard drive by scampering into the end zone from 8 yards out to give Dallas an insurmountable 24-6 lead.
And on the other side of the ball, the Cowboys defense ramped up the energy and brought more pressure, making life for Rosen much more difficult. In fact, after Miami went for those 200-plus yards in the first half, Dallas held its opponent to just 67 total yards in the second half and zero points.
With the Dolphins clamped down, the fourth quarter was mainly about the ground game and Pollard for the Cowboys. The running back handled the heavy lifting, rushing for 74 yards in the frame, including a 16-yard touchdown run that wrapped up the day's scoring, the first of his career.
In moving to 3-0, the Cowboys have enjoyed a relatively weak schedule thus far. But the tests will soon get tougher as they'll head to New Orleans Saints next Sunday followed by a return home to host the Green Bay Packers the following week.
Still, it's just a matter of taking care of business.