Prescott pow­ers Cow­boys to rout

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Schuyler Dixon

AR­LING­TON, Texas — Ezekiel El­liott’s work­load in the opener didn’t mat­ter much af­ter the Dal­las Cow­boys run­ning back missed the en­tire pre­sea­son in a hold­out.

Now there are more ques­tions about how soon quar­ter­back Dak Prescott will get the big pay­day his back­field mate en­joyed just four days be­fore the sea­son started.

Prescott tied his ca­reer high with four touch­down passes while throw­ing for 405 yards, and the Cow­boys rolled up 494 yards un­der new play-caller Kellen Moore in a 35-17 win over Eli Man­ning and the New York Giants on Sun­day.

For­mer White­hall High School and Penn State star Saquon Barkley ran 59 yards on his first carry of the sea­son, set­ting up Man­ning’s touch­down pass to tight end Evan En­gram for a 7-0 lead. But the Giants sim­ply couldn’t keep up with a Dal­las of­fense ea­ger to see what could hap­pen at full strength.

As ex­pected, El­liott didn’t seem to be in peak form af­ter spend­ing al­most all of train­ing camp try­ing to stay in shape in Mexico while wait­ing for the $90 mil­lion, six-year con­tract ex­ten­sion that was set­tled on the morn­ing of the first full work­out of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

The two-time NFL rush­ing cham­pion did find a seam for a 10-yard touch­down to put the Cow­boys up 35-10 late in the third quar­ter. El­liott fin­ished with 53 yards on 13 car­ries.

“We wanted to be mind­ful of how many reps we gave him in the game,” said coach Ja­son Gar­rett, not­ing he thought it was more than 30, in­clud­ing one catch for 10 yards. “I think now over time, he’ll prac­tice a lit­tle more, get a lit­tle more game ex­pe­ri­ence, he’ll get more and more com­fort­able.”

This go­ing-away win was all about Prescott in his sec­ond ca­reer 400-yard game as he be­gins his fourth sea­son.

Prescott’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the Cow­boys were still try­ing to reach a deal on a new con­tract in the days be­fore the opener, but now the is­sue will linger into the sea­son. Per­haps the NFL’s best bar­gain ($2 mil­lion salary in the fi­nal year of his rookie deal) isn’t get­ting any less ex­pen­sive.

The 2016 NFL Of­fen­sive Rookie of the Year thrived in his de­but in Moore’s of­fense, mak­ing sev­eral per­fect throws on his way to a per­fect passer rat­ing of 158.3.

Prescott com­pleted 25 of 32 passes with­out an in­ter­cep­tion, find­ing seven dif­fer­ent re­ceivers while two of them had 100-yard days: Michael Gallup (seven catches for 158 yards) and Amari Cooper (six for 106).

One of the on-the-money tosses was a 21-yard touch­down to Cooper, who’s in his first full sea­son with Dal­las af­ter a mid­sea­son trade that boosted a stag­nant of­fense and helped send the Cow­boys to their sec­ond NFC East ti­tle in three sea­sons with Prescott and El­liott.

Prescott ba­bied a throw to Blake Jar­win be­cause the tight end was so open over the mid­dle on a 28-yard score that was Jar­win’s fourth touch­down in two games against the Giants. The other three were in last year’s fi­nale at the Giants, also Prescott’s other four-TD game.

Ja­son Wit­ten — back for a clu­brecord 16th sea­son for Dal­las (Man­ning reached the ex­act same mile­stone with the Giants) af­ter a year in re­tire­ment as a broad­caster —scored his 69th ca­reer touch­down on a 4-yard grab.

RICHARD RO­DRIGUEZ/GETTY

Jay­lon Smith of the Cow­boys tries to stop the Giants’ Saquon Barkley on Sun­day in Ar­ling­ton, Texas. Barkley, the for­mer White­hall and Penn State star, had 120 yards on 11 car­ries.

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