If the Dallas Cowboys defense plays like Sunday, Cooper Rush just has to be good enough.
Rush was good enough for the Cowboys on Sunday to take a huge win in their first game without Dak Prescott. Brett Maher hit a 50-yard field goal as time went on and the Cowboys defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 20-17.
The Cowboys defense was solid, including an important three-and-out on Cincinnati’s last possession. Rush then got the Cowboys in field goal range and Maher came through. Rush was 19-of-31 for 235 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. The Cowboys take that stat from Rush for every game Prescott misses.
The Cowboys have been hearing all week about how they were in trouble without Prescott, who is out after thumb surgery. It wasn’t that bad on Sunday.
Cowboys took an early lead
The Cowboys started very well. Noah Brown caught a 9-yard touchdown from Rush. After a Bengals field goal, Tony Pollard had a 46-yard run to the 1-yard line, hitting it in on the next play. For a team that lost its quarterback and other key starters the week before and then had to hear all week long how their season might go, it was a nice shake of confidence.
The Cowboys defense played well for most of the game, led by Micah Parsons and his two sacks. That was necessary, because after the break the attack stopped. That’s going to happen if Dak Prescott is sidelined. The Bengals eventually provided a touchdown drive, with Tee Higgins scoring in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati got the two-point conversion to tie the game 17-17.
At that point, the defense had done a great job of keeping the team in the game. When Cincinnati tied it, the offense had to do its part to take the win. In the end it worked.
Violation stopped after half time
The Cowboys’ first drive after Cincinnati was right started off well, with Rush hitting CeeDee Lamb for 24 yards. In the next play, Ezekiel Elliott was dropped for a four-yard loss on a short flyout. The Cowboys have very little margin for error on offense without Prescott, and losing four yards on the first down usually won’t lead to anything good. The Cowboys eventually cleared it just before the two-minute warning.
But the defense kept the Cowboys alive. Trevon Diggs made a great tackle on Tyler Boyd shortly before the first down on third and 3, and the Cowboys attack had another chance. Rush completed a few passes to get the Cowboys into field target range. Maher was good from 50 yards.
Dallas will have to take victories while Prescott is out. Everyone will have a lot of value, and the Cowboys can feel pretty good about their unlikely win over the Bengals on Sunday.