ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Jerry Jones stood close to the same spot where seven weeks earlier the Dallas owner was addressing reporters after Dak Prescott fractured a thumb in a season-opening loss.
The Cowboys had just beaten Chicago for their sixth win in seven games — four of those victories coming in the five games without their star quarterback — to take a 6-2 record into their open week.
“It was unthinkable,” said Jones, also the general manager. “Of course, the most important thing is I was second-guessing, had we gotten ready for ... if we lost Dak?”
One of the NFL's best defenses and mostly mistake-free backup Cooper Rush took care of that.
Now there will be plenty of talk about whether the Cowboys are good enough to end a 27-year stretch without even reaching an NFC championship game since the franchise's fifth Super Bowl title.
Dallas returns Nov. 13 at Green Bay, where Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy was a Super Bowl winner with the Packers 12 years ago.
“You have to stay in the moment,” Prescott said. “When you play for this organization, you know what the ultimate goal is, so let’s not be mistaken about that. You can’t get ahead of yourself.”
The Dallas defense finally faltered in the 49-29 victory over the Bears, allowing season highs in points and yards (371).
The offense had easily its best game, with Prescott going 16 of 20 for 180 yards with two touchdowns in a first-half performance so strong not even a late interception could ruin it.
With Ezekiel Elliott sidelined by a knee injury, Tony Pollard ran for a career-high three touchdowns while matching his bests in carries (14) and yards (131). His final carry was a 54-yard touchdown.
“Just understanding the team and the defense we have, we have to reward these guys and go get some touchdowns,” Prescott said. “We had to go put it out there and I think we owed it to ourselves, more importantly.”
Since Dallas was facing the league's No. 1 rushing attack, and gave up 240 yards on the ground the Bears, it was harder to notice the Cowboys getting 200 yards rushing without Elliott, a two-time rushing champ.
Pollard averaged 9.4 yards per carry in Dallas' first 200-yard rushing game as a team this season and leads NFL running backs in that category at 6.3 (Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson tops the list at 7.4).
Still, Jones left little doubt about Elliott's role, saying the decision to sit him was made in part for him to be that much healthier after the open week.
“There’s no argument,” Jones said. “Zeke’s ability to punish, Zeke’s ability to do what he does for us in pass protection, and frankly Zeke’s ability to make big plays are there. We’re going to go as Zeke goes.”
WHAT NEEDS HELP
If it's not one thumb, it's the other for Prescott. His left (non-throwing) thumb was stepped on at the end of what became a 25-yard run on a quarterback sneak.
Prescott was still on his feet, churning his legs behind his offensive line when he realized he was in the open field and still on his feet. He was tackled out of bounds.
“Just my luck right now. It’s all right,” Prescott said. “We were going down and I guess he stepped on my hand or something. Just scraped right there by the nail. It was just bleeding a lot, but it’s not painful.”
While CeeDee Lamb is still looking for his first 100-yard game as the No. 1 receiver, he has been steady. Lamb had five catches for 77 yards, taking a hard shot on one grab and scoring a touchdown on a slant.
The 2020 first-round pick is averaging 75 yards per game since being held to two catches for 29 yards on 11 targets in the opener.
The run defense had many of the same issues against Justin Fields and the Bears that it did against Jalen Hurts and the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles.
Fields got loose in the open field too often, and the running backs found plenty of lanes inside and outside as the Cowboys struggled to solve the run-pass option. The rematch with the Eagles is on Christmas Eve.
LB Anthony Barr injured his left hamstring chasing Fields on one play and didn't return. ... The break should provide enough time for two others to return along with Elliott: S Malik Hooker (hamstring) and rookie DE Sam Williams (knee).
10 — The Cowboys lead the NFL with 10 defensive touchdowns since McCarthy took over in 2020, and they're 10-0 in those games. The 10th was perhaps the most unlikely.
LB Micah Parsons recovered a fumble and was on all fours securing the ball when Fields jumped over him instead of touching him. Parsons got up to celebrate, and his teammates told him to start running. The reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year ended up with his first career touchdown on a 36-yard return.
McCarthy wasn't ready to talk about his return to Green Bay in the moments after beating the Bears. “We’re going to have a lot of time to talk about it,” he said. The Cowboys are 2-0 in a four-game stretch against the NFC North. Dallas goes to division-leading Minnesota after playing the Packers.