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It seems odd for 1977 to come up so often during Dallas Cowboys games, but with Dak Prescott leading the team to its ninth consecutive win, breaking the franchise record set in 1977, and Ezekiel Elliott passing Tony Dorsett for the franchise record for rushing yards by a rookie, also set that season, the parallels between the seasons are natural.
It is a little history lesson for a quarterback born in 1993 and a running back born in 1995.
But as for the present day, Sunday’s 27-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens proved the Cowboys can succeed against a top defense even when things are not going their way early in the game. It was Dallas’s first ever win over the Ravens.
Prescott, who this week was named the team’s starting quarterback rather than being designated an injury fill-in, initially looked lost. The Ravens’ top-ranked defense was able to get intense pressure from its front-seven, forcing punts on Dallas’s first four possessions. The rookie Prescott completed just four of his first 10 passes and was not getting much help from Elliott, who was struggling to find holes against the league’s best rush defense.
That all turned around with just under nine minutes left in the second quarter. Down 7-0 and facing a 1st-and-30, Prescott came alive, tearing down the field for a 12-yard run. Over the next five plays, he drove his team 60 yards, tossing an off-balance throw to Cole Beasley for a 3-yard touchdown.
From that point, a familiar formula of gutsy passes by Prescott and tough runs by Elliott kicked in and Baltimore was powerless to stop it.
Prescott ended up completing 27 of 36 passes for 301 yard and 3 touchdowns, topping 300 yards for the second consecutive week. Elliott chipped in with 127 yards from scrimmage and has 1,102 rushing yards, which tops Dorsett’s 1,007 in 1977. He is on pace for 1,763 yards, which would put him just short of Eric Dickerson’s rookie record of 1,808. Through 10 games, Dickerson had 1,223.
Dallas will try to make it 10 wins in a row when it hosts the Washington Redskins next week.
But with 1977 coming up so often, Cowboys fans may already be thinking of how that season ended: A win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII.
Steelers Send the Browns to 11th Straight Loss
The Cleveland Browns ran the team’s losing streak to 11 games by falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-9. Along the way, the team also lost its starting quarterback, yet again, as Cody Kessler had to leave the game with a concussion and was replaced by Josh McCown.
Who was at quarterback for Cleveland hardly seemed to matter as the Pittsburgh defense collected eight sacks, including two and a half by Stephon Tuitt, as the Steelers seemed to have players in the Browns’ backfield on every play.
Pittsburgh did not get a lot of production out of Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for just 167 yards, but Le’Veon Bell gave the Steelers all of the offense they needed as he carried the ball 28 times for 146 yards and caught 8 passes for 55 more yards.
The Browns will try to end their losing streak next week when they host the Giants.
Colts Get Big Division Win: Indianapolis beat the Tennessee Titans, 24-17, but saw Adam Vinatieri’s N.F.L. record streak of consecutive field goals made end at 44. The Colts were able to improve to .500, leapfrogging the Titans into second place in the A.F.C. South, thanks largely to Andrew Luck’s 262 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. That was enough to overcome another great statistical performance by Marcus Mariota of the Titans (25 of 38 passing, 290 yards and 2 touchdowns).
But one of the more impressive streaks in league history came to an end in the second quarter when Vinatieri missed a 42-yard attempt wide-right. His last miss had come in Week 2 of the 2015 season.