By Chad Conine, The Sports Xchange
ARLINGTON, Texas — It took four games, but the Dallas Cowboys finally figured out how to score points and win a game without Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup.
Elliott was given a six-game suspension for violation of the NFL’s personal-conduct policy before the season began. The Cowboys running back, along with the NFL Players Association, then tangled with the NFL in court for the first two months of the campaign.
However, Elliott’s many appeals finally ran out, and the back began serving his suspension in Week 10. Since then, the Cowboys lost three straight against the Atlanta Falcons, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Los Angeles Chargers.
During the first three games of Elliott’s absence, Dallas scored just two touchdowns and a total of 22 points. The Cowboys did not reach double figures in points in any of the three games.
So when the Cowboys’ offense, aided by key defensive and special teams plays, came alive in the second quarter Thursday, it turned the momentum in the battle with the Washington Redskins for second place in the NFC East.
Dallas scored 17 points in the second quarter and tacked on three touchdowns in the fourth quarter on the way to a 38-14 throttling of Washington.
“It was this attack demeanor that we all had,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said, per the Washington Post.
Both Dallas and Washington came into the game with 5-6 records, and even with the victory, the Cowboys are still a long way from a playoff berth. But at least Dallas fans can hope their team begins to look like the NFC East champion of a year ago.
In the win over the rival Redskins, the Cowboys found their running game again. Running back Alfred Morris rushed for 127 yards.
“He was physical, really physical,” Prescott said of Morris, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He was breaking tackles. I didn’t know how he got out of some of those.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was equally impressed.
“A lot of his runs people don’t recognize how good they are,” Garrett said. “He’s subtle. He finds the crease, finds the soft spot and keeps moving forward.”
Morris led the Cowboys to a total of 182 rushing yards and 4.3 yards per carry.
“We were able to run the ball and really control the game because of that,” Garrett said.
It wasn’t exactly an offensive show from the start. Dallas didn’t gain its initial first down until the final play of the first quarter when Prescott ran 13 yards to convert a third-and-5.
From there, the Cowboys found their footing. Prescott capped an 11-play, 59-yard scoring drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jason Witten.
Overall, Prescott completed 11 of 22 passes for just 102 yards. However, his touchdown pass to Witten in the first half and another to Dez Bryant early in the fourth quarter gave Dallas the knockout-punch ability it needed from the passing game.
“I thought Dak did a really good job of making timely throws,” Garrett said. “Down in the red area, the throw to Witten for a touchdown, the throw to Dez for a touchdown. He made some big plays in the game for us.”
Now the Cowboys have 10 days to figure out how to keep it going before they travel to play the New York Giants.