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The improbable Cowboys win streak no one saw coming, and what it means for Dallas’ season

Even Jerry Jones couldn’t have imagined the Cowboys sitting at 3-1 Sunday night.

ARLINGTON – Don’t act like this was possible.

When explaining how the last three weeks have unfolded, don’t suggest your keen, analytical insight actually saw this coming all along.

No one thought the Cowboys would be sitting at 3-1, not given how poorly the team performed on opening night. The idea that Dallas would dispatch Washington 25-10 Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium for its third consecutive win seemed ludicrous for a team proceeding without its starting quarterback.

Dak Prescott’s fractured thumb put the season in peril. But backup Cooper Rush, a defense that’s becoming more dominant by the week and a head coach who doesn’t get enough credit for what’s taking place has erased those concerns.

It wasn’t unrealistic to project the Cowboys as winless at this stage. The best case scenario appeared to be a split of division games with the New York Giants and Washington, sending the team on the road for back-to-back games against the LA Rams and Philadelphia with a record of 1-3.

Even the most biased, unabashed optimist would have been reluctant to argue this team would win three straight given the circumstances. Right?

“To sit here after these last three ball games and maybe have the opportunity we’ve got for the rest of the year, it’s amazing,” owner Jerry Jones conceded.

“It’s far more than what I would’ve expected."

If it’s more than Jones expected…

Well, this really is outlandish.

“I think it shows the grit and mentality of this team," running back Ezekiel Elliott said. “We’ve had to grind it out and none of it has been pretty, but we scratch and claw and find a way to get a win.

“We didn’t play well that first game, but since then we’ve played some really good complementary football.”

Mike McCarthy lauded his players for keeping their perspective and showing confidence in one another after this latest victory. He spoke of how everyone has done a good job of “staying true to expectations" and of understanding how they need to play in specific situations.

No one has done a better job of that than Rush.

His final statistics from Sunday’s game are more admirable than impressive. Rush completed 55.5% of his passes for 223 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The key to those numbers was the timing.

Washington’s only touchdown of the afternoon midway through the second quarter gave the Commanders a 7-6 lead. Rush responded by leading the Cowboys on a 15-play, 75-yard drive that consumed more than six minutes. His nine-yard touchdown pass to Michael Gallup running along the back of the end zone gave Dallas a 12-7 lead it would not relinquish.

“We had a couple of key third downs there," Rush said. “MG catches the third-and-eight ball that gets us going. Caught some rhythm. Got a penalty that kept us alive. Those are huge.

“Once we get momentum, we’ve just got to stay ahead of the chain. We can feel it as an offense. We just can’t beat ourselves. We’ve got players everywhere around the ball.

“That was a big drive."

Washington kicked a field goal in the third quarter to pull within 15-10. Rush came right back with a three-play, 75-yard scoring drive to push the lead back to 22-10.

Six days earlier, after staring at a 13-6 deficit with 5:31 left in the third quarter, Rush answered the challenge by leading Dallas to 17 unanswered points on its next three possessions to beat the Giants.

Rush was 12-of-13 for 129 yards with a touchdown pass in those three drives.

“Cooper Clutch,” said receiver CeeDee Lamb, who led Dallas with six catches for 97 yards and a touchdown against the Commanders.

“I like that."

The defense got into the act as well. Washington had a chance to narrow the deficit and make it a game in the fourth quarter with a fourth down on the Cowboys 16-yard line. But cornerback Trevon Diggs tipped a pass in the back of the end zone to Terry McLaurin and the ball fell incomplete.

On the Cowboys’ first offensive play after getting the ball, Gallup drew a 27-yard pass interference penalty on corner William Jackson III.

Timing.

“Cooper’s presence, the way he handles the in-game adjustments, is really a positive for us," McCarthy said. “I thought he managed the down and distances, didn’t overact, didn’t try to force the football. I thought he did a good job trying to stay on time, even when the down and distances were lopsided."

No one saw this coming.

Not even Jones.

“Once again, it’s all about expectations and staying consistent, not trying to do too much," McCarthy said. “Defense keeping the point total down is giving us a great opportunity to go to the long way on offense, not feeling like we have to be wide open and explosive.

“That’s who we were last year and we’ll go back toward that. But this is the way we need to play right now and it’s been very effective for us.

“Cooper staying the course," he continued. “Defense holding them to 10.

“A lot of good things to build off today."

Catch David Moore on The Ticket (KTCK-AM 1310 and 96.7 FM) with the Musers at 9:35 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and The Hardline every Tuesday and Friday at 4:30 p.m. during Cowboys season.

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