ARLINGTON, Texas — “There is no blueprint.” At least, that’s what cornerback Trevon Diggs wanted to make sure the league understood following the Dallas Cowboys‘ loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 9, when asked if the secret was out on how to defeat his team. That sentiment was echoed loudly by quarterback Dak Prescott, who made it clear it wasn’t what the Broncos did to win as much as it was what the Cowboys did to lose, and everyone in a white and blue jersey proved both Diggs and Prescott correct when the Atlanta Falcons strolled into AT&T Stadium on Sunday.
Prescott and the Cowboys dismembered the Falcons with surgical precision pristine enough to make Dexter blush, using an variety of weapons in all three phases to hand Atlanta one of its worst losses in franchise history — a 43-3 drubbing that could’ve been much worse if Dallas played perfect football (believe it or not, but they did leave points on the board, a nod to just how dangerous they can be when focused).
“Obviously, we wanted it to come fast, but I knew there was a lot of work to do throughout the week,” said Prescott in his post-game press conference. “It was important to take it day by day and focus on getting better. I wanted to use every day of the week to make sure I got better at my footwork and all the things I thought I needed to make sure I didn’t repeat the performance from last week, and I’m sure a lot of other guys took accountability for that loss last week wanted to do the same.
“As a team we focused in, we had a great week of practice and preparation and were able to come out and complement each other in all three phases of the game this week.”
So, about that supposed blueprint? Prescott says the Falcons “tried it” — i.e., attempted to emulate the Broncos — to open up the game, but it didn’t end how they thought it would.
“I think, as I said last week, the reason I wanted it is because we didn’t play a good game,” he said. “If [other teams] feel like that was the recipe for success against us, then good luck to them.”
Don’t count on the Cowboys ever smelling the cheese again, though. The Broncos might’ve done them a favor, in that regard, while simultaneously making things harder for the Falcons and every other opponent on the Cowboys schedule going forward.
“We’re not going to get overconfident again,” said Prescott. “That’s what a game like last week does for you. It leaves that taste in your mouth and keeps you humble. … Last week just wasn’t us and everybody in the locker room knows that and it left a bad taste in our mouth.
“I think it was a taste that we needed. As I said, to understand how tough this game is, but tonight just showed that when we focus in, we take it one play at a time. When our heart and minds are where our feet are, we’re capable of doing to some great things. So, we’ve just got to continue to focus on that and take it play by play, game by game and we’ll continue to get better and hopefully have a lot more performances like this.”
Needless to say, head coach Mike McCarthy was pleased as well.
“Clearly, it was the response we were looking for,” he said. “I think from Monday the players were very accountable, went about it just the way you would expect them too. Everybody contributed today. Excellent team win.
“We had a ton of production and we were pretty much dominate there in the first half. It’s great to see the locker room the way it is right now. But that’s what you’re looking for — preparation was excellent and our guys did a great job applying it to today, and played with great emotion, won the turnover differential, and did a lot of good things.”
It was such an intense set of practices last week, filled with fury and focus by players and coaches alike, that McCarthy decided to break the tension with a fun exercise to balance things out. That anger served the Cowboys very well against the Falcons, additionally motivated to win the game for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who received a game ball for the masterful way he called the game, holding Matt Ryan to only 117 yards passing with two interceptions and no touchdowns — along with a third interception when Josh Rosen entered the game after the Falcons waved the white flag.
The Cowboys finished with two sacks to complement those three interceptions and cornerback Anthony Brown, who had an amazing PBU-turned-INT himself, couldn’t be more impressed with how the defense performed; and especially in the wake of losing one of the team’s best pass rushers in Randy Gregory to injured reserve.
“That just felt amazing,” said Brown. “It’s the first time that happened since I’ve been here. That felt amazing. That’s what we need to do every week.
“You see how it affects the team.”
The domination came on offense, defense and by way of a blocked punt from Dorance Armstrong that turned into a recovery for a touchdown by rookie fifth-round pick Nahshon Wright, with a list of Cowboys highlights long enough to reach the moon and then wrap around it several times. And rumor has it the moon is made of cheese, which is big, if true, but rest assured Prescott and the Cowboys won’t be trying to eat it.
“I mean, we’ve got to get better,” Prescott added. ‘There’s a lot of work to do. That’s got to be our mindset and our focus is just each and every week finding a way to get better, being the best version of ourselves, best offense, best defense, playing complementary football, and we can keep going.
“We can get so much better.”