Sunday's scene was all too familiar for Dallas Cowboys fans.
Missing Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Orlando Scandrick, La'el Collins, and Tyron Smith the Cowboys fell into a 14-0 hole almost immediately. The 49ers were dominating, and for the first time this year these young Cowboys were truly being tested on the road.
Sure, they needed to win a close one in Washington just two weeks ago, but this game felt different. The Cowboys were on the brink, about to be blown off the field and embarrassed by a team which we had all penciled in as a win prior to the season.
The 2015 Dallas Cowboys would have folded.
Without a true leader to look to at the quarterback position, the 2015 Cowboys offense would have sputtered. Without a true play-maker in the backfield like Ezekiel Elliott, the 2015 Cowboys would not have been able to run through loaded boxes. Without the new and improved Morris Claiborne, and clear leadership on the defensive side, the 2015 Cowboys defense would have been shredded.
Sunday's game would have been ugly. As fans, we would be left to count down the weeks until Tony Romo returned, hoping that the Cowboys weren't too far behind the Giants or the Eagles so that our savior would have a chance to do some saving.
But the 2016 Dallas Cowboys are different.
Down two scores on the road, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott did not blink. He stood in the pocket, trusted his recievers, and overcame every bit of adversity and poor play he faced in the first quarter.
Dak Prescott showed he is a leader, and the future quarterback of this franchise.
Without two-thirds of the preseason triplets, rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott played his best game yet. Pleading and begging for more carries, Elliott put the offense on his shoulders at times, and carried the load necessary of the number four overall pick.
Defensively, rookie Anthony Brown and Morris Claiborne made up for the absence of Orlando Scandrick. Five years in Mo has finally reached the potential the Cowboys believed he had when they traded up to draft him, and has he come up big every single week when needed.
As the week progresses we will analyze the film, point out the negative which needs to be corrected, and preview the Cowboys next opponent who may pose the biggest problems of any team they've faced thus far.
But for now, let's enjoy this win. Because as little as one year ago, the Dallas Cowboys would not have won this game.
Not without Romo. Not without Dez. This year, things are different, and the Cowboys are for real.