3 Takeaways from Cowboys' Week 7 Win vs. Lions
The Dallas Cowboys got back in the win column on Sunday with a big 24-6 victory over the Detroit Lions.
While the Cowboys still trail the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants in the NFC East, they are 5-2 and appear headed toward a postseason berth.
Oh, and Sunday also marked the return of starting quarterback Dak Prescott, who had been out since exiting Week 1 with a thumb injury.
While backup Cooper Rush has played well in place of the 29-year-old, he finally had a bad game in Week 6 in a disappointing loss to the division-leading Eagles.
With Prescott back in the fold, the Cowboys have the makings of a championship contender.
After starting slowly, Dallas eventually pulled away from the 1-5 Lions, which is what's expected from a playoff team. It has done a good job of handling the teams it's supposed to beat this season, and it will look to continue that trend next week against the Chicago Bears.
Here are our three biggest takeaways from the Cowboys' Week 7 win over the Lions.
Prescott Appears Fully Healthy Once Again
Dallas didn't rush Prescott back into action because Rush was playing well, aside from that three-interception game against Philadelphia. In all, the stand-in tossed five touchdowns, three interceptions and went 4-1 as a starter.
The decision to be patient with Prescott's recovery seems to have paid off. The two-time Pro Bowler showed a little rust early and didn't try many shots downfield, but he looked comfortable in the pocket, got into a rhythm late and got out of the game healthy.
"Thumb feels pretty good," the signal-caller told reporters after the game.
Prescott finished the game 19-of-25 for 207 yards and a touchdown. While that stat line might look like one we saw from Rush over the previous five weeks, that's a good thing.
With Prescott out, the Cowboys learned to lean on the ground game, a precision passing attack and their defense. They're continuing that game plan with the Mississippi State product under center, and he is comfortable with that.
"I know how talented this team is. I know what we can be. It's not about me," he said.
But Prescott is a more dynamic quarterback than Rush, even if he's playing a similar game-manager role. Having him back provides a big boost to Dallas' playoff push.
Noah Brown Continues to Be a Top Target
During the offseason, there was a lot of uncertainty about who would complement CeeDee Lamb at wide receiver. Michael Gallup was coming back from a torn ACL, Jalen Tolbert was a rookie, and both Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson Jr. were gone.
Fifth-year wideout Noah Brown, who had just 425 yards over the previous four seasons, has helped answer that question in a big way. He caught five passes for 68 yards in the opener and continues making an impact with Rush in the lineup.
It was fair to wonder, though, if Brown would go back to being a bit player with Prescott under center and Gallup back in the lineup since his Week 4 return. Over the last two weeks, he caught just two passes for 15 yards.
Well, Prescott was happy to lean on the 26-year-old upon his return. While Brown's biggest highlight of the day was a flipping fumble forced by the Lions, he also caught five of seven targets for 50 yards. This season, he has caught 25 passes for 339 yards and a touchdown, nearly matching his production over the past two seasons combined.
Brown's emergence could prove to be big down the stretch, and it's big now. Gallup, who didn't have a catch on Sunday, is still working his way back.
While Prescott has Lamb, tight end Dalton Schultz and running back Tony Pollard on whom he can lean, it's great to know he's found another trusted target in the Ohio State product.
Dan Quinn Will Be a Coaching Candidate in Offseason
While it was wonderful to see Prescott back on the field, make no mistake: Dallas' defense was largely responsible for this win.
Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn called a masterful game and limited a Lions offense that ranks fourth overall and ninth in scoring.
Yes, the Lions' losing star wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown to a concussion played a role, but this was another impressive performance by Quinn's unit.
Detroit was held to just two field goals and three third-down conversions on nine attempts. Quarterback Jared Goff was picked off twice, and the Lions were completely shut out in the second half.
While Dallas did have some trouble against the run (117 yards), it kept pressure on Goff, forced mistakes and held firm in Cowboys territory. Against a Lions offense that was rolling before the bye, that's noteworthy.
The takeaway here is that Quinn has done such a wonderful job with Dallas' defense that he's almost assuredly going to be a hot head coaching candidate in the offseason. He got interviews this past offseason but ultimately decided to stay in Dallas.
Franchise owner Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan in January (h/t CBS Sports' Patrik Walker) that the 52-year-old would be in Dallas "for years to come."
We're not so sure about that, especially if an enticing opportunity presents itself. For now, though, the Cowboys should be thrilled to have Quinn in the fold.