Patrick Peterson on facing Cowboys: 'We have to force Andy Dalton to beat us'

Dak Prescott's season-ending broken ankle thrust Andy Dalton into the spotlight for the most popular team in the NFL.

With Dalton taking over for Prescott -- who was on a historic pace passing the ball -- there is little question how defenses will now approach the Dallas Cowboys: Stop Ezekiel Elliott.

With the Cowboys getting behind early in games and Prescott tossing the pigskin all over the park with great success, Zeke had been relegated to a complementary piece. Elliott should now go back to the focal point.

Starting with Monday night's matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, defenses are once again fixated on slowing Zeke.

"Stop the run," Patrick Peterson said on his CBS Sports 'All Things Covered' podcast discussing the key in Week 6. "Definitely gotta stop the run and force -- not saying he can't do it -- but we have to force Andy Dalton to beat us. We feel if you take the ball out of Ezekiel Elliott's hands, there's more opportunities for bad things to happen if the ball is in the air."

Peterson didn't want to make it sound like he was taking a shot at Dalton, who started 133 games for the Cincinnati Bengals over nine years. Rather the eight-time Pro Bowler was simply vocalizing the reality of the situation, which is likely to see Elliott shoulder a bigger load than the first five games.

"Andy Dalton is a very, very serviceable backup," Peterson said. "I saw a crazy stat that said Andy has like 31,000 passing yards. It's not a lot of backups that -- technically, he's not a backup. He could be a starter in this league. He was a starter in this league and he has starter numbers. To have a guy that's a starter as your backup, that's huge.

"I believe coach Mike McCarthy did the right thing by going out and getting a better [backup] QB, just in case something like this did occur."

Having Dalton as the team's backup rather than an unproven youngster or career afterthought could save the Cowboys from tanking in the worst division in football.

Dallas, however, needs to get back to feeding Zeke.

Elliott has had fewer than 100 rushing yards in all five games this season. The Cowboys need to make sure that trend doesn't last six games, even if teams like the Cardinals bulk up to slow the run.

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