The Dallas Cowboys got back in the win column on Sunday afternoon, blowing out the downtrodden Bengals 30-7 in Cincinnati, thanks in large part to a bad day from Bengals running backs.
If nothing else, it is a pallet-cleanser for Dallas, who before Sunday's matchup had lost six of their previous seven games by an average of nearly 17 points per loss.
Oh, but there is something else: COO Stephen Jones has now made official the 2021 job security of the head coach.
“There will be absolutely no change with coach McCarthy,'' Jones told 105.3 The Fan on the day after the win. "We have the utmost confidence that this ship is gonna be righted quickly. ... He is a great head coach.''
For at least one Sunday, McCarthy's bunch was at least temporarily "righted,'' and the Cowboys got to enjoy having success on the football - even if it came at the expense of one of the few NFL teams that has fallen on even harder times than Dallas.
Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly from the McCarthy-led Cowboys' 30-7 win.
The Dallas defense played arguably its best game of the season on Sunday, holding the Bengals offense to just seven points and 300 yards of offense while forcing three turnovers on Cincinnati's first three possessions. The second of which, was returned for a defensive touchdown, on a 78-yard scoop-and-score from Aldon Smith.
In fact, it was the third-lowest total that the Cowboys had given up all season long, and the lowest since their Week 8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
And they did it without starting corners Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown or starting safety Donovan Wilson.
Obviously, a lot of that had to do with the fact that "Not Joe Burrow'' was under center for Cincinnati. ... Not to mention the Bengals running backs, and their inability to hold onto the football.
But for one game at least, the Dallas defense did what they were supposed to do, and it was nice to see.
Then there was Andy Dalton, who spent nine seasons in Cincinnati, made his triumphant return to Paul Brown stadium.
With his wife in attendance, Dalton - named a captain by head coach Mike McCarthy - led the team out of the tunnel, and completed 16-23 passes for 185 yards and two scores, all while guiding his team to their most dominant win of the season, against the team that kicked him out the door for a rookie.
It wasn't the most dominant or productive performance we have ever seen, but it was still a satisfying one for the 33-year-old. And given everything he has had to deal with this season, from the Bengals exit to the concussion to COVID-19 ... it had to feel a little more special than most.
It's hard to find too much "bad'' in a game in which the Cowboys won by more than three touchdowns. There was something rather concerning to mention, but we will dissect that in just a bit.
For now, let's focus on one minor inconvenience that resulted from the win: draft stock.
By beating the Bengals on Sunday, Dallas's chances at a top-three pick are just about out of the window. Theoretically, they can still win the NFC East, but that would require they win out, and the Washington football Team lose the remaining three games.
Dallas would also need the New York Giants to lose two of their final three, including their matchup against the Cowboys in Week 17.
Suffice it to say, either one of those teams is perfectly capable of losing that many games. But the likelihood is ... let's just say "unrealistic.''
So, essentially, Dallas has all but lost out on a top-three pick in the upcoming NFL draft, and is now set to select fourth overall ... all thanks to the players doing what they get paid to do.
Geez, how rude.
In all seriousness, as a team and an organization, Dallas likely needed that win more than the one-draft-spot improvement. Either way, they still have a top-tier pick, assuming things stay the same from now until the end of the season. And If they can't find an impact player at four, instead, we will have other issues to discuss.
Ezekiel Elliott's struggles continued on Sunday, despite facing the league's fifth-worst rushing defense ... a defense that gives up an average of 131.7 yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry.
Still, Elliott managed just 48 yards on 12 carries. Which, yes, is four yards per carry. However, removing Elliott's 26-yard garbage time scamper in the fourth quarter (his longest run of the season), the $90 million man managed just 22 yards on 11 carries.
For those counting at home, that is two yards per rush.
Yes, the Dallas offensive line is in a patchwork state, and yes there are other factors that have contributed to the struggles with the running game. After all, we all remember how good Elliott looked in the first two weeks of the season before the injuries really started hammering the Dallas offensive line.
That said, the state of the offensive line's health doesn't seem to have affected back-up running back Tony Pollard nearly as much as it has affected Zeke... and that is concerning in and of itself.
Moving forward, the Cowboys have many things to fix, it's true. And now it's also true, and official: Mike McCarthy will be the 2021 coach charged with lessening the concerns.