Sullivan: Martin's Play, Terrell McClain's Standout Day, Among Thoughts

Some of the thoughts that run through an oversized, bald head:

  • Know what I can't stop thinking about? Last season. Just doesn't make sense. Dallas is 16-4 in its past 20 regular-season games, not including whatever took place in those final four months of 2015. Yeah, Dak Prescott is transcendent. Zeke Elliott is electrifying, like a young Michael Jackson taking the stage, can't stop watching. Most impressive rookie back since Adrian Peterson, if not Eric Dickerson. Still, there's no reasonable explanation for how the assembled talent a year ago, with a healthy offensive line, won only four games.
  • I can't take my eyes off Zack Martin. Well, at least during games, don't want a restraining order or anything. These last three weeks have been above and beyond what anyone realizes, outside of maybe the coaching staff. Watch the coaches' film. It's like the older brother in *Home Alone *bullying Macaulay Culkin. It's just cruel and unusual.
  • Las Vegas wasn't even taking odds on the Cowboys having the No. 1 total defense through Week 5, as in, having allowed the fewest yards per game. Or being among the top five in scoring defense. This group was supposed to be, cue the Charles Barkley impersonation, terrible. Instead, it's been arguably without peer. They beat the Bengals up. Took them down that dark alley and walked out alone. Andy Dalton, who is about as quick as me, rushed six times. Trust me, none of those were designed, was just that everyone was covered.
  • Dalton also took four sacks, not including the one called back for a ridiculous holding call in the fourth quarter. During one stretch, in the heart of the game, he completed 1-of-9 passes. DeMarcus Lawrence didn't show up on the stat sheet, but he was in the backfield on several occasions causing havoc. The real standout, though, was Terrell McClain, who in addition to 1.5 sacks, tallied three quarterback hurries and five tackles. Wow. Am guessing no one has done that in a game around these parts since DeMarcus Ware.
  • Speaking of Vegas, they also weren't taking action on Adam Jones playing in the NFL eight years after his brief run in Dallas ended. Heck, everyone seemed to think that was the last, last chance. This is his seventh season with the Bengals, and you know what? Good for him. Always like seeing someone turn his life around. More times than not, if that happens, it's long after the playing career has ended.
  • Not taking anything away from the win, just sharing information. The Bengals are now 6-8 in their last 14 games after an 8-0 start last season. After going 52 weeks without allowing a 100-yard rusher, not only did Zeke run at will, kind of like Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl, the Cowboys rushed for 184 yards on 26 carries, not including Dak taking a knee three times, which is more than 7 yards per carry for those non-math majors.
  • Rookie cornerback Anthony Brown continues to astound. The majority of seasons he would be running marathons ahead of anyone else for team Rookie of the Year honors. Not sure Orlando Scandrick just steps back into those snaps. I like Scandrick personally, always enjoyed talking with him, and he has been vastly underappreciated for most of his career here. However, I'm not a fan of when a player being paid millions of dollars talks about not wanting to take the field because they don't want to have bad tape or film out there because they aren't 100 percent. There are days when I'm not writing my best, it's just not flowing, but the column is due, and I put my name on it. That's how the real world works.
  • Haven't seen Jason Witten throw a stiff arm like that in a few years, was a joy to watch. Of those physical, breaking tackles, blocking on every running play tight ends, he's the only one still doing this at his age. The other tight ends to play into their mid-30s, their style was more Jane than Tarzan.
  • My favorite quality in people is resiliency. And Terrance Williams has shown some these last few weeks. He took some hits, from the media and the fans. Nothing to do with not running out of bounds, either, just in general. He's kept working, kept blocking – man, does he block for a wideout – and these last two weeks, he did what he didn't last season with Dez Bryant sidelined. He was the man.
  • Talked last week about the defensive philosophy being as simple as taking away A.J. Green. Make someone else beat them. Well, Green was ghost-like, especially when it mattered. And yeah, Morris Claiborne was flagged twice, but love how he's playing, his attitude. Dalton barely threw in his direction. For the first time in a long time, the Cowboys have a legitimate shutdown cornerback.

Check out Jeff Sullivan's column each week in *Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine. Find out more at DallasCowboys.com/star. You can also follow Jeff on Twitter, @SullyBaldHead, or email him at jsullivan@dallascowboys.net.*

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