The Dallas Cowboys marched to an impressive 20-17 win on Sunday over the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
Quarterback Dak Prescott started strong, the defense held up and, in the end, kicker Greg Zuerlein won it late.
Prescott and running back Tony Pollard led the Cowboys' offense to a touchdown on their first drive of the game to take an early 7-0 lead. It had been 21 games since the Cowboys have scored an opening-series touchdown.
It's also the 12th game in a row Dallas has scored a first-quarter touchdown, tying a record held by two other Cowboys teams, led by Roger Staubach and Tony Romo respectively.
Pollard had the game of his life, running for 109 yards on 13 carries, with one touchdown. He also averaged an impressive 8.6 yards per carry.
On that opening drive, Pollard began by running the opening kickoff from two yards deep in the end zone to the Dallas 22. He then carried the ball just three times for 12 yards on the drive on his way to a four-yard touchdown run.
Teammate Ezekiel Elliott ran the ball well too, amassing 71 yards on 16 carries. On the day, the Cowboys running game gouged the Chargers' defense for 198 yards.
“TP ran his tail off today,” Elliott said. “He’s definitely a great back, all around, he can catch it, he can run it. He’s smaller, but he runs hard. He breaks a lot of tackles. He had a hell of a day. I’m proud of him.''
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“We’re good,” Pollard said. “As long as we’re winning, everything is fine.”
A week ago in the opening-week loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Cowboys could only manage 60 rushing yards, and it was a point of conversation amongst Dallas fans and media all week. But the return of offensive-line anchor Zack Martin clearly helped the cause in Week 2.
Another Cowboys' leg saved the day, however, as Zuerlein bailed out his head coach Mike McCarthy, whose questionable clock management on the final drive almost kept Dallas out of game-winning field goal range.
Zuerlein struggled in Week 1 with two missed field goals and one missed extra point. That's a terrible line for a kicker in a two-point loss.
But Zuerlein was perfect on Sunday against the Chargers, making both extra points and two fourth-quarter field goals, including the game-winner from 56 as time expired.
“The mindset is always, as a kicker, that it’s going to (come down to) a field goal,” Zuerlein said. “You never plan on scoring a touchdown. If it happens, that’s great, but mentally, you’re always thinking it’s on you.”
The Cowboys will look to keep the running game (and kicking game) alive next week in their 2021 home opener against the division rival Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium on Sept. 27. Both teams are 1-1 and tied with the Washington Football Team for the NFC East lead.
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