ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys had a nearly unstoppable formula two years ago.
Run the ball with Ezekiel Elliott. Again. And again. Add some runs and efficient throws from quarterback Dak Prescott. Rinse, repeat.
The Cowboys sealed Sunday's 20-13 win over the New York Giants with a 2016-like touchdown drive in the fourth quarter: 14 plays, 82 yards, 8 minutes and 23 seconds off the clock.
"It really brought me back to my rookie year when it seemed like we had five of those in a season," Elliott said. "That's just the identity of this team. We're going to be physical from Play One to Play 80, and I think it showed in that drive. It showed how physical we were from the beginning."
The Cowboys spread out New York's defense on the opening drive when Prescott hit Tavon Austin for a 64-yard touchdown. They built a 10-0 first-quarter lead with a balanced attack that included hand-offs to Elliott and zone-read scrambles by Prescott.
But the offense would punt on four of its next true possessions, only getting a field goal off a defensive takeaway at the Giants' 27-yard line.
At the 14:08 mark of the fourth quarter, holding a 13-3 lead, the offense rediscovered that "identity."
On the 14-play drive, Prescott completed 5 of 6 passes for 34 yards. He ran three times for 19 yards – two read-option plays and a fourth-down dive. Elliott added five runs for 29 yards, including a 19-yarder just outside the red zone and a 6-yard score.
"It was big, and I thought it was a good mix of run and pass," head coach Jason Garrett said. "We ran it different ways and threw it different ways and made some big conversions."
Two of Prescott's completions went to Cole Beasley on third down. And Elliott's touchdown came a third-and-2 from the Giants' 6.
That type of balance, with consistency, will make the Dallas offense difficult to stop over four quarters.
"The Giants' defense is very good. They're stacked," Elliott said. "And I think we wore them down and it showed in that drive."