With no Zeke, is ar­row point­ing up for Dal­las?

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS - BY BARRY WILNER AP Pro Football Writer

The ar­row was point­ing up for the Cow­boys, side­ways or down for the Fal­cons.

Then a fed­eral court on Thurs­day up­held the sixgame league sus­pen­sion for Ezekiel El­liott, a dam­ag­ing blow to Dal­las.

When they meet Sun­day in a crit­i­cal NFC match, the win­ner will be in de­cent po­si­tion for a run to­ward the play­offs, hardly what ei­ther 2016 con­fer­ence power pro­jected.

The loser, par­tic­u­larly if it is Dal­las with NFC East leader Philadelphia al­ready 2½ games in front and El­liott pre­sum­ably gone for much of the re­main­der of the sched­ule, will have used up sig­nif­i­cant mar­gin for er­ror.

“We know as a team what we’re ca­pa­ble of,” safety Ri­cardo Allen said of his 4-4 Fal­cons . “Just go out there and do our job. Just give a lit­tle more, take it to an­other level.

“We have an­other whole half of the sea­son. Get it rolling. Get the small things right.”

Dal­las (5-3) has done a lot of big things right after a 2-3 start. Some­how, the Cow­boys man­aged through all the dis­trac­tions from their star run­ning back’s on-again, off-again sus­pen­sion, and they han­dled Kansas City quite well last Sun­day.

Now comes a huge in­con­fer­ence test at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where At­lanta is only 1-2, but plays four of its next five games.

“We’ve just got to keep on push­ing,” says re­ceiver Dez Bryant, who is both­ered by knee and an­kle woes. “We know ex­actly who we are. We’re go­ing to show ev­ery­body. This is a real team that sticks to­gether and fights for one an­other. We’ve been through a lot of ad­ver­sity, and we’re just show­ing you how to get out of it. That’s what we’re go­ing to do. We’re go­ing to keep on fight­ing and see where it takes us.”

The ac­tion be­gan Thurs­day night with Seat­tle’s 22-16 vic­tory in Ari­zona.

Rus­sell Wil­son threw two touch­down passes to Jimmy Gra­ham for Seat­tle. The Sea­hawks (6-3) lim­ited Adrian Peter­son to 29 yards in 21 car­ries in a game marred by a host of in­juries and penal­ties, most of them against Seat­tle, to im­prove to 4-0-1 in Ari­zona in Bruce Ari­ans’ five sea­sons as coach of the Car­di­nals (4-5).

Off this week are Kansas City (6-3), Philadelphia (8-1), Baltimore (4-5), and Oak­land (4-5).

The Saints are one of the league’s main sur­prises.

We all ex­pect Drew Brees to load up on pass­ing yards and touch­downs, but New Or­leans’ ground game has been for­mi­da­ble with Mark In­gram and rookie Alvin Ka­mara. As for the de­fense, it’s been just as re­spon­si­ble for a sixgame win streak.

“It’s just great to see young play­ers bring the Saints back up, be­cause a lot of peo­ple just wrote the Saints off and said that we were a bad team and ev­ery­thing,” says firstround cor­ner­back Marshon Lat­ti­more, a strong con­tender for De­fen­sive Rookie of the Year.

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