Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys have another gut check coming this weekend when they hit the road to face NFC East rival and defending NFC champion Philadelphia (7-1) on Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app).
The key to victory for the Cowboys (5-2) against the Eagles — and moving forward? According to FOX Sports NFL Analyst Greg Olsen, it’s continuing to do what Dallas did in its 43-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8.
“I think under Mike McCarthy, they’re still trying to figure out what is that balance between being a downfield passing attack but also being a little bit more conservative — keeping the defense fresh, keeping more sustained drives, and all those boxes they’ve checked all season,” Olsen said on “The NFL on FOX Podcast.”
“The difference last week versus the Rams was the big plays down the field — the chunk plays to CeeDee Lamb, getting Brandin Cooks involved. Their ability to be a little bit more explosive and dynamic in the passing game, as opposed to just death by a 1,000 paper cuts. They still had some real, long drives. That first possession of the third quarter, the Rams went down and scored to cut it [the lead] to 16, they got the ball back, and they had the ball for 17 plays, and they went down, kicked a field goal, made it 19 and the game was over.
“They still had the ability to sustain [drives] because they’re so good on third down, but it was the explosive plays. It was throwing the ball over your head from the 30-yard line, as opposed to having to score everything from inside the 5-yard line like they’ve had in the past games in the red zone, which continues to be a little bit of a struggle.”
“It was Dak’s best game by far,” Olsen added. “That version of Dak is probably as good of a quarterback as there is in the league. If they can get that week in and week out, that’s a different animal.
“That’s a really good team when their passing attack is able to operate like that.”
In Week 8, Prescott threw for a season-high 304 yards and four touchdowns, while completing 80.6% of his passes. Dallas also ran for 102 yards. Among the many highlights from the blowout home victory was Prescott hitting Lamb and Cooks for 22- and 25-yard touchdowns, respectively.
Prescott has totaled 1,637 passing yards, 10 passing touchdowns, five interceptions and a 97.8 passer rating, while completing 71.0% of his passes this season. He has also rushed for 104 yards and one touchdown. Dallas is averaging 220.9 passing yards (16th in NFL), 117.1 rushing yards (11th), 338.0 total yards (15th) and 28.1 points (second) per game.
The Cowboys are in the midst of a bizarre season, especially offensively. For example, while they annihilated the now-2-6 New York Giants on their home field in Week 1 in the pouring rain, 40-0, Prescott threw for only 143 yards and completed just 54.2% of his passes, while two of the Cowboys’ touchdowns came off a defense/special teams score — and another with a short field off another turnover.
Two weeks later, the Cowboys were held to 16 points in a loss to the now-1-7 Arizona Cardinals. Dallas was later humbled by the San Francisco 49ers, 42-10, with Prescott throwing three interceptions. It has since won back-to-back games over the Los Angeles Chargers and the Rams.
Dallas and Philadelphia split their season series in 2022, with both teams winning on their home turf while the road team was without its starting quarterback (Prescott for the Cowboys and Jalen Hurts for the Eagles) due to injury.
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