By Shawn Lealos
Heading into Week 11, the Dallas Cowboys had played the Baltimore Ravens four times since 2000, and all four times they lost. But, this Sunday, the Cowboys ended that unlucky streak when they knocked off the Baltimore Ravens 27-17 for their ninth straight win on Sunday to sweep the AFC North. The win also helped keep the Cowboys at the top of the NFL with nine wins on the season. Here is a look at the Dallas Cowboys team grades for their Week 11 victory.
The Dallas Cowboys offense struggled through the first half, as the game went into halftime tied at 10. However, Dallas really exploded in the second half with 17 points to put the game out of reach and win by double digits. Dak Prescott, who learned this past week that he was keeping his starting job despite the return of Tony Romo, did everything asked of him. Prescott finished with his second straight 300-yard passing game, completing 27-of-36 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns.
The most impressive part of Dak Prescott’s game is that he spreads the ball around to numerous receivers. Eight different receivers caught passes with seven of them catching multiple passes. Dez Bryant led the way with eight catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns while Cole Beasley had five catches for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Ezekiel Elliott ran for two yards on his first carry to become the Cowboys’ rookie rushing leader in just 10 games. Elliott finished the game with 97 rushing yards and no touchdowns, despite a Ravens defense that focused on stopping him.
Elliott passed Tony Dorsett for the rookie rushing record one week after becoming one of only three players in NFL history to hit 1,000 rushing yards in just nine games, joining Adrian Peterson and Eric Dickerson. Thanks to Elliott, Dallas controlled the clock and the game, with 35:39 minutes of offense compared to 24:21 for Baltimore.
The Dallas Cowboys defense controlled the Ravens for much of the game. There were two drives in the second half where Baltimore was able to move the ball at will, but overall Dallas shut them down. The Cowboys actually picked up a rare sack when Jack Crawford took down Joe Flacco in the second half. Dallas also completely shut down the Baltimore running game, with Terrance West running for 42 yards and one touchdown and Kenneth Dixon only picking up 40 yards on the ground.
Special Teams: A+
Dan Bailey continued to prove he is the best kicker in the NFL. This game saw the No. 1 field goal kicker in NFL history, Bailey (90.44 percent), take on the second best in Justin Tucker (89.412 percent). Both were on target here, with Tucker hitting his only field goal attempt and Bailey hitting two. Bailey also added three extra points on a day when nine extra points were missed in the early games alone on Sunday.
The big thing to take into account for the coaching in this game came before the contest even started. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett chose to keep Dak Prescott in the starting lineup instead of Tony Romo. Prescott repaid his coach’s confidence by playing a great game. While Dallas rushes the ball more than many teams in the NFL, the coaches also realized that they were playing one of the best rushing defenses in the NFL and changed their game plan accordingly. Dallas threw the ball 36 times and ran it 30 times.
After winning three straight AFC North games, the Dallas Cowboys return in four days to play the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving Day. The Cowboys are 3-1 in the NFC East and beat the Redskins last time they played, 27-23. The Dallas Cowboys lead the series against the Redskins 67-44-2. A win would put Dallas one step closer to the NFC East title and a playoff berth.