DALLAS — If the Dallas Cowboys mission on this Sunday afternoon was to show the rest of the NFL that last week's ugly loss to the Broncos was a fluke, they succeeded.
Dak Prescott completed 24-of-31 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for a third score, as the Cowboys obliterated the Atlanta Falcons 43-3 on Sunday. With the win, the Cowboys improve to 7-2 on the season.
Dallas scored touchdowns on four of their first five possession of the day, racing out to a 36-3 lead at halftime, after a blocked punt recovered in the endzone by Nahshon Wright gave Dallas their fifth first half touchdown.
The 33-point halftime lead marked the largest for Dallas since December 4th, 1971, when they led the New York Jets 38-3 at halftime.
The Cowboys took the opening kickoff, drove 73 yards in eight efficient plays, and finished the drive with a 13-yard Prescott-to-CeeDee Lamb touchdown pass, to take an early 7-0 lead.
The defense then set the tone, coming up with a key stop in their own territory on Atlanta's opening drive, forcing a field goal. A pass breakup by Jayron Kearse on third down forced the kick. It was the beginning of a very long day for the Falcons on 3rd down.
A Dallas three & out gave the ball back to Atlanta, but the defense again stood tall. This time, it was consecutive pass breakups by Jourdan Lewis on 3rd and 4th down, forcing a turnover on downs.
And then the Dallas offense really got cooking. The Cowboys authored three consecutive touchdown drives, efficiently moving the ball with ease on the Falcons defense. Ezekiel Elliott finished off back-to-back drives with short touchdown runs, to build the lead to 21-3. And then Prescott hit Lamb for the second time on the day, to push the Dallas advantage to 28-3.
Late in the first half, the Cowboys went after a Falcons punt, and Dorance Armstrong got his hands on the football. After last week's blocked punt that wasn't against the Broncos, when Nahshon Wright's misplay of the football gave Denver possession back, it was a fitting turn of events for Wright to be the Cowboy who recovered the blocked punt in the endzone, to increase Dallas' lead. A two-point conversion after a Falcons penalty, and the Cowboys had their halftime edge of 36-3.
In the second half, the Cowboys slowed things down a bit. A touchdown run from Prescott on a 4th & 2 inside the Falcons five yard line provided the final margin. And Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis all snagged interceptions.
Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn got a statement performance out of his defense, against a Falcons team he was the head coach for until last season. Atlanta did not convert on a 3rd down until the 6:04 mark of the 4th quarter.
The Cowboys 7-2 record is good enough to lead the NFC East by four games, over the 3-6 Eagles, Giants, and Washington.
The Eagles play in the 3:25 window, Sunday afternoon, against the Broncos. The Giants are on their bye week. Washington defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29-19, to earn their third win of the year, Sunday.
Next week, the Cowboys visit Arrowhead Stadium, where they will face the defending AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs.