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Spagnola: This Is The Dak You've Come To Love 


FRISCO, Texas – Last week we were talking about a resurgent CeeDee Lamb, how in the previous two games the two-time Pro Bowl receiver had totaled 19 catches for 275 and two touchdowns, including a career-high 158 yards receiving against the Rams.

Well, this past Sunday in the 28-23 loss to Philadelphia, Lamb struck for yet the next career high with 191 yards receiving on 11 catches. That means in the past three games Lamb has 30 catches for 466 yards and two touchdowns.

Well, guess who has been throwing him them balls?

Uh, that would be one Rayne Dakota Prescott, back to his ol' self.

Dak has thrown for more than 300 yards now in the past two games, 304 against the Rams and now a season-high the 374 against the Eagles. This is the first time he's thrown for 300-plus yards in consecutive games since Games 5 and 6 in 2021.

And it's not just the yards, it's his efficiency. Dak has strung together three consecutive plus-100.0 QB ratings, with 109.3 against the Chargers, 133.7 against the Rams and now the 115.2 against the Eagles. How hot is that? The first three-game stretch 100.0 rating stretch since the final four games of the 2021 season.

All together over these past three games, certainly corresponding with Lamb's explosion – his 191 yards the fifth most of any receiver so far this season – Dak has completed 75 of 105 attempts (71 percent) for 950 yards and two touchdowns, no interceptions, all of which comes to a QB rating of 105.6, going as long ways toward raising his QB season rating to 100.7, seventh best in the NFL, just 1.1 from being fifth.

Dak remains diplomatic about this hot streak, some acting as if they have never seen this previously from the eight-year QB. He talks about continuity. He talks about preparation. He talks about the offense getting in tune.

"When I'm playing well or as I say 'freedom', just growing into this thing," Dak said after the loss to the Eagles when he threw for 374 yards and three touchdowns. "The first couple of weeks we talked about just footwork, footwork, footwork and now really listening to my feet and allowing the offense to play within itself. Guys getting open, guys running the ball, guys being hungry and getting into space.

"Things are working as we planned.

But here is another point. To me, Dak was trying over the first several games to be too perfect. Trying to be careful, possibly affected by all that interception talk from last year.

To me, now he's just playing football again. Relaxed in the pocket. Not playing with abandon, but playing Dak Prescott football, back to moving around in the pocket, taking off when need be, or as he likes to say, "listening to my feet."

Again, he has not been so mechanical these past three games. Just playing football.

And, at a high level, mind you.

  • Brotherly Shove: Can't stop this. And certainly, the Cowboys could not against the Eagles in two third-and-ones and a fourth-and-one on Sunday in the Eagles 28-23 victory at The Linc. And one of those converted by QB Jalen Hurts was for a touchdown. This season they now are 17-of-18 converting either third-and-one or fourth-and-one. The Cowboys almost had a shot on one of those, Micah Parsons diving over the top trying to yank Hurts down from behind. Too much traffic. Can't get there. And, noticed this on the goal line conversion. The Eagles are lined up with five offensive linemen, two tight ends, Julio Jones at wide receiver, Hurts at QB, WR A.J. Brown and TE Dallas Goddert behind Hurts in shove positions and then RB D'Andre Swift six yards behind the line of scrimmage. The Cowboys were countering with four down defensive lineman, LB Damone Clark down, Marquese Bell at a traditional linebacker spot and five DBs. Not enough beef. And know the Eagles can pull a fake or something, but when they have converted now 17 of 18, why not force them to try something different by trotting out like eight down linemen, with five on the line, three pushing back from behind and then three DBs. Not enough beef. Remember when playing tug-of-war, you always wanted the heaviest guys on the rope. Just make them run a fake, throw a pass or something, and see if they can convert because this certainly isn't working.
  • Shot In Dark: Let's not make a big deal of the Cowboys taking a long shot on WR Martavis Bryant, who has not played in the league since Week 10 of 2018, and since just in various alternative leagues after being suspended a third time for too many violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy, including in the XFL this year where he had just 14 catches. He's been signed to practice squad, one of 16 players and probably considered the 16th Now at age 31 and 6-4, 210, he probably could provide the Cowboys a missing dimension on the wide receiver corps, with no one taller than the 6-2 CeeDee Lamb, giving them an obvious end zone jump ball option. But this is the catch, once he's in football shape, and as he said, "I'm in shape but not football shape." And that will take some time since the NFL teams are allowed only one padded practice a week. So, guessing he didn't much full-speed Wednesday, again wouldn't get much work Thursday in pads or next Thursday during a ramp-up phase. Then no pads during the short Thanksgiving week. Maybe one for the next Thursday game against Seattle, and then maybe another during those 10 days leading up to the Dec. 10 Philly game for his first potential elevation. It's not like Bryant will be detracting from anyone else's development. So too me, no big deal they are taking this, uh, shot.
  • Congrats: That is to rookie kicker Brandon Aubrey, his lone field goal against the Eagles extending his career-opening NFL record to 19 straight. This probably getting somewhat lost in the shuffle of the 28-23 loss. And this record-setter was no gimme, hitting from 51 yards out, his fourth from 50-plus yards.
  • Problem Solved: The Cowboys came up with a cool idea out here at The Star, just next to the Training Table dining area where they had three solo lighted frames of the franchise's three Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award winners, Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman and Jason Witten. There was no room for a fourth in that area fo, this past season's winner Dak Prescott. So, they put together one four-man lighted collage in that space, with each a picture player holding his Walter Payton trophy superimposed over and action shot of each. Pretty cool.
  • DeVito Files: Funny thing about the Giants now starting quarterback Tommy DeVito after injuries to starter Daniel Jones and backup Tyrod Taylor. Tommy DeVito might be the second most famous Tommy DeVito, the undrafted rookie free agent from Jersey. The first, thanks to Mick Shots teammate Bill Jones' research, is the late singer, song writer Tommy DeVito who put together the 1960's rock band Four Seasons, including the more famous Frankie Valli, the group putting out such songs as "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," and "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You."
  • Standard Time Shorts: The Cowboys will be riding two streaks into Sunday's game against the Giants, first an 11-game home winning streak, not having lost at AT&T Stadium since the 2022 season opener to Tampa Bay, and second, establishing an 11-1 record after a loss, not having lost consecutive games since losing to Kansas City and Vegas two years ago during the Sunday-Thursday Thanksgiving Double in 2021 . . . This might have gone unnoticed in the loss to the Eagles, too, but Jake Ferguson's 40-yard catch in the second quarter is the longest catch by a Cowboys tight end since Blake Jarwin's 42-yarder in 2019 against the Giants . . . Speaking of the Giants, the Cowboys have a five-game winning streak against them, and have won 12 of the last 13, with Big Blue's last win at AT&T Stadium Dak's NFL debut, 20-19, in the 2016 season opener . . . Offense has been the Giants problem, not having scored more than 16 points in their last seven games, and in eight of nine, their last win three games ago, 14-7 over Washington.

And for the last word we go to Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy, who is well aware the Cowboys will be playing four of the next five games at AT&T Stadium, starting Sunday with the 2-7 Giants, who now have lost six of their last seven and having to play Tommy DeVito, their third string quarterback, the rookie free agent starting his first NFL game against the team beating the Giants 40-0 in the opener.

"I think the biggest thing in this type of game is just really keeping your eye on the ball," McCarthy said. "We need to get win No. 6, need to improve from last week, focus on the details, all the little things. So, the fact of the matter we're playing at home, and that's been very important for us, so we just need to take care of business."
As Dak has been saying, run your own race, stay in your lane and don't be looking sideways.

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