Dak Prescott, Cowboys Beat Cardinals Behind Demarcus Lawrence's Career Night

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 25, 2017

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws as Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Markus Golden (44) pursues during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

The Dallas Cowboys overcame a slow start during Monday's NFC showdown against the Arizona Cardinals and controlled the second half to secure a 28-17 victory at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Dallas' backfield of second-year playmakers was too much for Arizona, as quarterback Dak Prescott threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns and added a score on the ground, while running back Ezekiel Elliott churned for 80 rushing yards and a touchdown.

The Cardinals also had issues with defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, who spearheaded the Cowboys' defensive efforts with three sacks. NFL Research noted he was the first Dallas defender to notch three sacks in a game since DeMarcus Ware did so in 2011.

The Cowboys are now 2-1 and tied with the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington in the early NFC East race, while Arizona dropped to 1-2 despite 13 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown from Larry Fitzgerald.

While the combination of Fitzgerald and quarterback Carson Palmer (325 passing yards and two touchdowns) proved potent, the Cardinals failed to score on their last possession despite reaching the 2-yard line. Had they elected for a field-goal attempt, they would've likely made it an eight-point game and given themselves a shot at an onside kick. 

It didn't help Arizona that Palmer was under constant pressure on the last possession and throughout the evening thanks to Lawrence and a Dallas defensive front that tallied six sacks and held the Cardinals to 49 rushing yards.

Ed Werder reacted to Lawrence's performance:

The defense's second-half effort set the stage for the offense, and Prescott's touchdown pass on the run to Brice Butler gave the Cowboys the lead for good before Elliott clinched it with his fourth-quarter score.

The first notable moment came before the opening kickoff, as Cowboys players, coaches and owner Jerry Jones interlocked arms and knelt before the national anthem in a display of unity:

Arizona wasted little time establishing itself after the anthem with an eight-play, 82-yard drive capped by Jaron Brown's touchdown reception on the first possession, but it also failed to put away the Cowboys in the early going.

The Cowboys ran just three offensive plays in the first quarter, but a holding penalty that negated an Arizona touchdown and a missed Phil Dawson field goal left the door wide open for the visitors.

Dallas took advantage on the first half's penultimate possession when Prescott leapt over Cardinals defenders and flipped into the end zone. Suddenly, it was 7-7 at the half even though Arizona held Prescott to 25 passing yards and Elliott to 31 rushing yards in the first two quarters.

The pattern of Cowboys battling defenders to reach the goal line continued in the third quarter when Dez Bryant demonstrated his physicality by carrying multiple Cardinals into the end zone:

Not to be outdone by his counterpart, Fitzgerald torched Dallas' secondary on a deep ball and then hauled in his touchdown reception two plays later. He also maintained his concentration during a head-turning 24-yard completion while trailing in the fourth quarter, finishing the catch after an initial bobble as he fell to the ground.

According to NFL Research, Fitzgerald surpassed Marvin Harrison for eighth place on the league's all-time receiving yards list with his 15-yard score.

The two stars weren't the only ones involved in the receiver version of "can you top this?" as Butler high-pointed Prescott's second touchdown pass to give the Cowboys the lead in the fourth.

Pro Football Talk noted Butler wasn't the only one to impress on the 37-yard scoring play:

Seemingly in fear of more aerial success from Prescott, the Cardinals didn't stack the box down the stretch, and Elliott answered an Arizona field goal with his first touchdown of the season to give Dallas a commanding two-score lead.

Dallas now returns home for Week 4 to face the Los Angeles Rams, while the Cardinals will look to bounce back at home against the winless San Francisco 49ers.