Prescott, siz­zling Cow­boys huge fa­vorites vs. dis­mal Dol­phins

The Saline Courier Weekend - - SPORTS - By Schuyler Dixon

AR­LING­TON, Texas — Dak Prescott and the Dal­las Cow­boys are off to a hot start that has them look­ing like the play­off con­tenders they fig­ured to be as long as Ezekiel El­liott’s pre-sea­son­long hold­out ended in time, which it did.

The Mi­ami Dol­phins are deal­ing with the lat­est “ele­phant in the room” — the rare dis­honor of be­ing 20-plus-point un­der­dogs in an NFL game af­ter one of the most dis­mal begin­nings to a sea­son in nearly 60 years.

Josh Rosen is re­plac­ing Ryan Fitz­patrick at quar­ter­back Sun­day at the Cow­boys (2-0) af­ter Fitz­patrick com­piled a 39.9 passer rat­ing while the Dol­phins (0-2) were outscored 102-10. No team since 1961 had a worse point dif­fer­en­tial af­ter two games.

Rosen, traded by Ari­zona af­ter the Car­di­nals drafted him 10th over­all in 2018 be­fore changing coaches and tak­ing Kyler Mur­ray No. 1 over­all this year, played the fourth quar­ter of last week’s 43-0 loss to New Eng­land.

The 36-year-old Fitz­patrick was asked about drops by re­ceivers when he made the “ele­phant in the room” com­ment, while also men­tion­ing the dis­man­tling of the ros­ter un­der first-year coach Brian Flores.

The lat­est move, ear­lier this week, was send­ing dis­grun­tled de­fen­sive back Minkah Fitz­patrick to Pitts­burgh for a first-round pick. Left tackle Laremy Tun­sil and re­ceiver Kenny Stills were shipped to Hous­ton at the end of the

pre­sea­son.

“A lot of this stuff, it’s got to be talked about and put out there, and then you move on,” Ryan Fitz­patrick said. “That’s kind of the way that it’s been han­dled.”

The Cow­boys don’t want to talk about whether they thought a 20-point spread in a pro game was even pos­si­ble. “That’s for the bet­tors, I guess,” re­ceiver Ran­dall Cobb said.

“The NFL is so tight, from the top to the bottom,” cen­ter Travis Fred­er­ick said. “The dif­fer­ence in that is a cou­ple of bad bounces, maybe a cou­ple of in­ter­cep­tions. There’s a re­ally minute dif­fer­ence. From the out­side, it might look big­ger than that. But on the inside, it’s a tight game.”

Some story lines go­ing into the 15th meet­ing in a se­ries that’s been a lot closer than this week’s line (23 as of Wed­nes­day) would in­di­cate — each fran­chise has seven vic­to­ries:

COOK­ING WITH GAS The Cow­boys haven’t started a sea­son with 400plus yards and 30-plus points in each of their first two vic­to­ries since 1978, back when go­ing to the Su­per Bowl was a reg­u­lar thing for them. This year, Dal­las hopes to end a nearly 25-year stretch with­out ad­vanc­ing past the di­vi­sional round.

Prescott is try­ing to be­come just the third quar­ter­back with at least three touch­down tosses and a passer rat­ing of 120-plus in four straight games. His streak goes back to last year’s reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale. Rus­sell Wil­son had five straight for Seat­tle in 2015, the now-re­tired An­drew

Luck four with In­di­anapo­lis last year.

PURGED ROS­TER

The Dol­phins have been outscored by 49 and 43 points in their first two games — the worst and third-worst reg­u­lar-sea­son de­feats in fran­chise his­tory. Don Shula coached Mi­ami for 26 sea­sons and was never beaten so badly.

Af­ter the lat­est deal in­volv­ing Minkah

Fitz­patrick, the Dol­phins have three first-round picks in 2020, but that won’t help them against the Cow­boys.

“They’re re­build­ing,” said Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame quar­ter­back Dan Fouts, an an­a­lyst for CBS who cov­ered the loss to the Pa­tri­ots. “It’s hard. It’s hard on the play­ers, the coaches, the staff, the fam­i­lies, the fans. It’s tough.”

ZEKE WATCH

El­liott is an­other step closer to full speed. The two-time rush­ing cham­pion was right on his ca­reer av­er­age for touches (25) in the 31-21 vic­tory at Wash­ing­ton. Thanks to a 27-yard carry on the last real play be­fore a kneel-down, El­liott had his 20th ca­reer 100-yard game (111).

Af­ter spend­ing al­most the en­tire pre­sea­son work­ing out in Mex­ico, El­liott has his most yards rush­ing through two games (164) in his fourth sea­son. “I did take care of busi­ness when I was gone, but that was ex­pected,” the 2016 All-pro said. SWITCH­ING SIDES

The Dol­phins claimed for­mer Dal­las de­fen­sive end Taco Charl­ton on Thurs­day, a day af­ter the Cow­boys waived their 2017 firstround pick. Al­though the move might be too late in the week for Charl­ton to be ready in time to play, the for­mer Michi­gan player would love the chance to show some­thing to the team he felt gave up on him too soon.

Charl­ton, gone af­ter just 27 games and four sacks as the 28th over­all pick, went into train­ing camp with his ros­ter spot in jeop­ardy but was solid in pre­sea­son games while other de­fen­sive line­men re­cov­ered from in­juries. With those miss­ing plays back, Charl­ton was a healthy scratch the first two weeks.

IN­JURY BUG BIT­ING Re­ceiver Michael Gallup, who leads the Cow­boys with 13 catches for 226 yards, is ex­pected to miss up to a month af­ter surgery for a left knee in­jury sus­tained against the Red­skins. Safety Xavier Woods (an­kle) and de­fen­sive tackle Ant­waun Woods (knee) also got hurt in that game and are un­likely to play.

ALEX BRAN­DON/AP

Dal­las Cow­boys quar­ter­back Dak Prescott greets Wash­ing­ton Red­skins play­ers on the field at the end of the NFL foot­ball game, Sun­day, Sept. 15, 2019, in Lan­dover, Mary­land. Dal­las won 31-21.

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