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Cowboys' Explosive Offense on Historic Pace

Fueled by a balance, diversified attack, Dallas is trending toward the highest-scoring team in franchise history

How it started: Interception. Fourth-down failure. Dropped touchdown. Penalty for illegal formation. Wild shotgun snap. Fumble in the Red Zone.  

How it's going: After salvaging 44 points from the sloppy start against the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys are on a record scoring pace.

Fueling their four-game winning streak and 4-1 record, the Cowboys have scored a whopping 170 points. That average of 34 per game would easily be the highest in the franchise's 62-season history, topping 31.7 over 14 games in 1966 and 29.9 in a 16-game schedule in 1983.

"We didn’t start as clean as we wanted, but we finished strong," quarterback Dak Prescott said after throwing for 302 yards and three touchdowns. "We have a lot of weapons, and we finally threw a knockout punch.”

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Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's unit obviously gets an assist in Dallas' eye-popping start. The defense is giving up yards, but creating takeaways - thank you, Trevon Diggs and his NFL-leading six interceptions - to prevent points. The Cowboys' offense averaged 32.6 points through five games in 2020, but only had a 2-3 record to show for it.

This season, the offense is rolling like never before.

Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is like a kid on Christmas morning, not sure which toy to play with first or longest. Against the Giants, receiver CeeDee Lamb took a hand-off in the backfield, receiver Cedric Wilson threw a pass after a lateral and Prescott faked an option pitch to Ezekiel Elliott, before seconds later tossing a pass to the wide-open receiver for a stroll-in touchdown.

They can beat defenses with gadgets, but also by grinding.

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The Cowboys are the second-highest scoring team in the league, only two points behind the Buffalo Bills. Prescott is second in completion percentage (73.9) and third with 13 touchdown passes. They boast two top 10 rushers in Ezekiel Elliott (third) and Tony Pollard (eighth), on pace to become the Cowboys' first running-back tandem to gain 1,000 yards in the same season. Lamb and co-receiver Amari Cooper are Top 25 in catches and touchdowns, and Dalton Schultz is third among tight ends with 26 catches and second with three touchdowns.

All that, despite center Tyler Biadasz often getting shoved into Prescott's lap and delivering off-target snaps, and the Cowboys playing without suspended starting right tackle La'el Collins and injured starting receiver Michael Gallup since Week 1.

Sunday they ran up 515 yards on the Giants, second-most ever in the 118-game series with New York that began in 1960. In a seven-possession stretch midway through the game, the Cowboys scored four touchdowns, a field goal and fumbled at New York's 1. They punctuated their dominance with a nine-play, 98-yard drive that overcame a 15-yard penalty.

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Like the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers before them, the Giants had no clue how to stop the Cowboys' diversified offense that implemented two passers, five rushers and seven receivers. 

Just how prolific was Dallas during its 3-0 season-opening homestand? It averaged 40 points, 446 yards and a 17-point margin of victory.

The 121 (41, 36 and 44) points are the third-most in team history in the first three home games of a season, behind only 136 in 1966 and 130 in 1973. The '66 squad broke 50 three times in its first four games at the Cotton Bowl, led by quarterback Don Meredith's bombs to speedy receiver Bob Hayes.

We've seen - as recently as last season - these kinds of early-season offensive fireworks at home by the Cowboys. The style is there. Now comes the substance.

Their next two games are at the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings, against stingy defenses led by veteran defensive-minded head coaches (Bill Belichick and Mike Zimmer) that allow 18 and 21 points per game.

In their two road games the Cowboys have averaged 24 points, 16 fewer than at AT&T Stadium.