ARLINGTON, Texas – "Blueprint," exhaustively, was the word of the week.
Last Sunday, did the Denver Broncos unlock the secret to defending the NFL's top-ranked offense?
After the blowout loss to Broncos, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said the offense welcomed that aggressive man-to-man coverage moving forward.
Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons tried. It didn't work.
"Yeah, they tried that early," Prescott said after Sunday's 43-3 win at AT&T Stadium – the ninth-largest margin of victory in franchise history and only the second time since 2000 that the Cowboys won a game by at least 40 points. "I think, as I said last week, the reason I wanted it is because we didn't play a good game. And if they think that was the recipe for success against us, then good luck to them. We know what we're capable of.
"I think last week was something we needed in a sense of just refocusing, re-centering and realizing this is the NFL and it's tough and you've got to earn it each and every day at practice and then you've got to come out on Sundays and earn it again."
Sunday was a resounding reminder of what Prescott and the offense can do when they're in sync.
Prescott completed 24 of 31 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns and added his first rushing touchdown of the season in just three quarters of work. (Backup Cooper Rush directed the entire fourth quarter with the Cowboys protecting a 40-point lead.) The Cowboys racked up 431 total yards and 22 first downs and dominated time of possession, 37:41 to 22:19. Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb led the team with six catches for 94 yards and both receiving touchdowns.
"They came out and played man (coverage) early. I think we went 5-for-5 against man-for-man," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "They came out with the intention of challenging our perimeter, and I'm sure part of that was last week's game.
"I just think it's all part of the response that you're looking for from our football team. I thought Dak played excellent today, in command, and our perimeter group really responded after last week."
Prescott said during the week that his footwork, an important fundamental part of his success, was poor against the Broncos – likely due in part to his two-week idle period with a strained calf in late October.
Sunday, he regained his rhythm, starting with a simple screen pass to Lamb for a 37-yard catch-and-run on the game's second play.
"I think it just came from practice and everything, as I said, that I wanted to get back to working on, just getting tuned back in to my footwork, using my hips, just getting everything that therefore I knew the ball would be popping out of my hands," Prescott said. "…I know in pregame I felt good and I felt good about where I was and my body being synched in and I was able to get out there and get back to the player I believe I am."
The only blemish Sunday might have been the minor bruise on the right side of Prescott's face, the result of a helmet tap from Lamb after their second touchdown – a lofty fly-ball throw from Prescott in the back corner of the end zone – that gave Dallas a commanding 28-3 lead just before halftime.
"I come off the field, put my helmet down and then I see CeeDee coming past me, so I give him a hug and tell him, 'Good job,'" Prescott said. "And I guess he thinks I have my helmet on, so he leans in with a helmet tap, facemask to cheek. But I'm all right."
One week after their worst game of the season, so are the Cowboys.