Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys drop hammer on Bengals

The Dallas Cowboys (4-1) jumped out to a big lead on Sunday and never looked back in a powerful 28-14 romp over the visiting Cincinnati Bengals (2-3). Here's what we learned:

  1. Ezekiel Elliott is a fascination. The Cowboys rookie runner roared out to a hot start with 42 yards and a touchdown on the team's opening march, setting the table for another dominant performance. Blasting for 134 yards and two scores at a wild 8.9 yards per carry, Elliott ended this game minutes into the second half with a 60-yard gallop to pay dirt that put Dallas up 28-0. Elliott has improved weekly, growing mentally and showing better decisiveness with every start. That also has to do with his fine offensive line, but Elliott is fun to watch because he runs with violence behind a front five that easily won the battle up front on Sunday. This rout -- filled with clock-chewing drives -- is exactly what the Cowboys hoped for when they chose Elliott with the fourth-overall pick.
  1. Elliott's electric start shouldn't take away from the brilliant play of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. Drafted after seven other signal-callers, the fourth-rounder has looked at home recording a league-leading 15 drives of five-plus minutes and an NFL-best 16 marches of 10-plus plays. The Cowboys opened the game with 10 first downs on their first 18 plays against a good Bengals defense, while Prescott's rushing score -- his third of the year -- made him the most effective Dallas passer on the ground since Danny White had four scores in 1983. Peppering the ball to six different receivers, Prescott's offense had more touchdowns at halftime (three) than Cincy's A.J. Green had catches (just one). By the time he committed his first turnover of the year, on a lost fumble, this game was totally over. Big ups also go to Cowboys cover man Morris Claiborne, who had a pair of penalties but also shut down Green with a rash of tipped passes. He's playing the best football of his career.
  1. Considering what I've told you, it's no surprise that the Bengals found themselves in a hole early. It was awkward to see 20 minutes of play float by before Green saw his first target. Nearly just as much time passed before Jeremy Hill saw his initial carry. From there, the Bengals back was held to just 12 yards before leaving with a chest injury. Dalton, meanwhile, opened 10-of-11 passing, but it didn't seem to matter. The veteran quarterback was hassled by Cowboys pass rushers and forced to scramble for yardage with Dallas erasing Green (4/50) until garbage time. The Bengals really miss tight end Tyler Eifert, but that alone doesn't explain Sunday's disaster. They also clearly feel the loss of wideouts Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu and savvy play-caller Hue Jackson. Few teams in the NFL are as consistently run as the Bengals, but the talent-drain eventually catches up.
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