Cowboys at Lions Halftime: Dak Prescott at Center of Dallas' Leading Formula

Mike Fisher

DETROIT - In last week's loss to Minnesota, Dak Prescott almost did it all - except that for only the fourth time in his 57 career starts, he didn't have a rushing attempt. Today at Detroit, Prescott is showing he's capable of leading his Dallas Cowboys to a win while doing it all - and doing it without a primary helper.

We've already established that Dallas faced a decision regarding the run-game usage of Ezekiel Elliott, who was the crown jewel in the coaching staff's "Institutionalized Stubbornness'' in a 28-24 loss to the Vikings. Should Dallas beat its head against a wall again this week? Do the Lions offer some vulnerabilities that invite more Zeke?

Or is the Dak-and-Amari Cooper combo the most lethal way for the Cowboys to jump to 6-4?

Dak says him running doesn't need to be a priority ... But Dak needs to be. And so he has, the obvious boss of a 24-14 halftime lead for a Dallas team that started poorly, isn't stopping Detroit's no-name running game and is lousy in special teams. But ... Dak.

Coming in, Dallas was 14-4 when Dak runs four or more times in a game. Here he's got two carries, for 14 yards. Of course, Dallas' record when Zeke is effective is good, too. And here, Elliott's grinding, with 32 yards on 10 carries. "Institutionalized Stubbornness''? Not in this half, not with Zeke carrying 10 times (including a first-drive lost fumble) but Dak throwing 25 times.

And what about Amari? Per Sports Info Solutions, Cooper has scored five of his seven touchdowns against man coverage this season. The Lions - not strong at cornerback anyway - play man coverage at the NFL’s second-highest rate, according to Evan Silva.

Detroit is 3-5-1, with what one local radio wag deemed "a bend-and-break defense'' and a non-threat at QB in Jeff Driskel (who has a rushing TD here). Maybe there will be endless opportunities for everyone in Dallas' offensive lineup to win some matchups. Zeke getting touches? Sure, especially as Detroit is among the bottom-three NFL teams in defending running backs' receptions and has allowed 14 TDs to backs. But - and this is where "Institutionalized Stubbornness'' must morph into creativity - the numbers say Detroit can't stick with Dak in any department.

No Cooper (as his knee is clearly bothersome)? No problem, as Michael Gallup's halftime numbers are six catches for 113 yards, including this beauty ...

And Randall Cobb has three grabs for 82 yards and a TD? Oh, and supplementing Zeke, there is rookie runner Tony Pollard, with his TD reception thanks to, of course, Dak Prescott.

Dak's halftime totals? Just 16-of-25 for 274 yards and two TDs.

I said going into the season that if the Dallas QB is good, the team can be great. Instead, it's been the team that's been less than good, and Dak who has been great.


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