Cowboys lean on defense in Prescott’s return, top Lions 24-6
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott made sure to remember what he watched during the five games the star quarterback missed with a fractured right thumb.
The Dallas defense has things under control.
Ezekiel Elliott ran for two 1-yard touchdowns, Prescott threw for a score in his return and the Cowboys forced five turnovers in a 24-6 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Dallas (5-2) recovered Jamaal Williams’ fumble inside its 1 with a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
Jared Goff was responsible for four other Detroit turnovers with two interceptions and two fumbles, while Prescott didn’t give the ball away.
Kind of like the formula Cooper Rush followed in winning the first four games without Prescott before three interceptions helped end the streak a week ago, when defending NFC East champs lost at undefeated division leader Philadelphia.
“It was important for me to see that and to recognize that and know coming back, don’t try to do too much,” Prescott said. “I’m just trying to play my role and make sure that I put this team in the best chance to win.”
The Lions (1-5) got a solid showing for three quarters from the NFL’s worst defense, but coach Dan Campbell fell to 0-11-1 on the road with the Lions in something of a homecoming for the Texas native.
Campbell’s frustration in a fourth consecutive loss showed when he threw his headset after Williams lost the ball in a pile and Anthony Barr recovered for Dallas with the Cowboys up 10-6.
Campbell said he threw the headset because he was trying to get a challenge of the previous play, when tight end Brock Wright was ruled down at the 1 on a 17-yard catch.
“I’m frustrated because we’re losing, just like I was last year,” said Campbell, whose record as Detroit’s coach dropped to 4-18-1. “But I’m not down, I’m not losing confidence. I’m not going to go hide in a corner.”
Goff’s first three turnovers led to Dallas touchdowns, starting with Trevon Diggs’ third interception of the season on a diving play inside the Dallas 20 with the Lions leading 6-3.
Elliott jump-started the ensuing 82-yard drive by hurdling DeShon Elliott on an 18-yard run. Tony Pollard ran for 28 yards two plays later, and the Cowboys took their first lead on Elliott’s 1-yard plunge.
Dallas didn’t have to go nearly as far after the next two turnovers from Goff.
Elliott’s second TD came after Goff was intercepted by Jourdan Lewis at the Dallas 46.
Goff then lost the ball on one of the first two sacks of rookie Sam Williams’ career, giving the Cowboys possession at the Detroit 24. Prescott threw a 2-yard scoring pass to rookie Peyton Hendershot.
“Everywhere I’ve been I broke the record, JUCO, high school, Ole Miss, now I’m trying to do it here,” Williams said. “Trying to leave my name on something positive.”
The first multi-TD game of the season for Elliott came after he took a hard shot to his right knee in the first half. Elliott had 57 yards on 15 carries, and Pollard rushed 12 times for 83 yards.
“He’s relentless,” Prescott said of Elliott. “When I saw the play, I thought it was a little ugly. He said he’d be good and wasn’t too long before he was jumping a guy.”
With shorter fields late, Prescott settled into a groove, finishing 19 of 25 for 207 yards.
“Starting with the command of the huddle and the whole operation, I thought he was really on point there,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “They’re big things that don’t show up in the stat column. I thought he had a winning performance today.”
Goff was 21 of 26 for 228 yards. Williams was effective with 79 yards on 15 carries, but had the critical mistake that kept the Lions from taking a fourth-quarter lead.
Diggs has 17 career interceptions, tied for most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2020. Those picks have come in his first 35 games, giving him the second-most for a player in the Super Bowl era behind former Cowboys cornerback Everson Walls. Diggs tied Walls’ club record of 11 picks last season.
PUNTER GETS PAID
Detroit’s Jack Fox averaged 48 yards on three punts a day after the announcement of a three-year contract extension. The deal has the highest average annual value for punters at $3.8 million, according to Spotrac.
Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown was ruled out by the concussion protocol after leaving the game following his only catch in the first quarter. ... RB De’Andre Swift missed his third consecutive game with ankle and shoulder injuries after the Lions were hopeful he could return. ... Cowboys T G Matt Farniok was ruled out in the second half with a hamstring injury.
Lions: Host Miami next Sunday.
Cowboys: Host Chicago next Sunday in the second of four consecutive matchups with NFC North teams.