Home SPORTS Cowboys offense struggles, but Dak Prescott makes enough plays to beat Chargers

Cowboys offense struggles, but Dak Prescott makes enough plays to beat Chargers

This offseason, Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy explained that he didn’t want to light up the scoreboard on offense. He wanted to run the ball and win games, not have the top offense in the NFL. That drew some laughs.

Monday night must have been perfect for him.

Dallas had an uninspiring offensive game, but it was good enough. Dak Prescott made a few key plays, the Cowboys defense played well and when the Cowboys needed one long drive to win the game, they got it. Dallas drove downfield for a field goal and a 20-17 lead with a little more than two minutes left. Then Micah Parsons got a huge sack, Stephon Gilmore grabbed an interception on the next play and the Cowboys held onto the win.

Pretty? No. But the Cowboys are 4-2 after a pretty big victory over a talented Chargers team.

Both offenses struggle

There wasn’t much action for three quarters. When McCarthy said this offseason he wanted to “run the damn ball” and that he didn’t “desire to be the No. 1 offense in the league,” this must have been what he had in mind.

In the fourth quarter, the score was tied 10-10. The Cowboys defense was doing its job against Justin Herbert, but Dallas’ offense wasn’t doing anything. Then Prescott made a few plays early in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys offense got going when Prescott saw Tony Pollard in the middle of the field and he improvised, hitting Pollard and watching the running back escape from a tackle and go 60 yards. It was exactly what the Cowboys needed. When a penalty backed them up and they faced a second-and-12, CeeDee Lamb got open, Prescott hit him for 15 yards and Dallas had a first down at the Chargers’ 3-yard line. Prescott hit Brandin Cooks on a short touchdown to give Dallas a 17-10 lead.

Prescott and the Cowboys offense had been pretty nondescript to that point. But since the defense was playing so well, all the offense needed was a few key plays to take a lead. Then a big special teams miscue gave the ball away.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott evades the rush against the Chargers on Monday night. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) (Robert Gauthier via Getty Images)

Game tied late into 4th quarter

The Cowboys forced another punt, and the return turned into a fiasco. Dallas’ Jalen Tolbert was being blocked into the returner, and when the ball bounced away he reacted like someone on the Cowboys had touched it and it was a live ball. The problem was nobody had touched it. Tolbert got to it first, and then it was a live ball. The Chargers recovered and took over at Dallas’ 20-yard line on a weird play.

On fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, the Chargers faked it to Austin Ekeler, rolled out Justin Herbert and Gerald Everett was wide open for the touchdown and a tie game with a little more than seven minutes left.

The dream at that point is a clock-eating drive that ends with the go-ahead points. Dallas’ offense hadn’t been good to that point but it did its job, grinding out a long drive. A defensive penalty on third-and-long kept it going, and Prescott made a nice pass to Lamb for 18 yards on third-and-six to keep the drive going and the clock moving. Then came another big third-down pass to Cooks. Prescott was good when he absolutely needed to be. He did miss an open Pollard in the end zone on third down, but the Cowboys got a field goal to take the lead with 2:19 left. It was a 14-play drive that took 4:52 off the clock.

Herbert had a chance to win the game, but it was a situation that played right into the strength of the Cowboys. Dallas can rush the quarterback, and the Cowboys knew that’s all they had to do. It was time for Parsons to shine. Parsons had a huge sack on a second down, and then on third down Herbert threw an interception to Gilmore to seal Dallas’ win.

The Cowboys clearly aren’t worried about style points. Fans might complain about the offensive struggles, but that might be sweet music to their head coach.

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