On December 30th, 2015, Dak Prescott played his final game at Mississippi State, rolling past North Carolina State in the Belk Bowl to conclude a 9-4 season.
Thirteen days later, on January 12th, Ezekiel Elliott played his final collegiate game at Ohio State - carrying his Buckeyes to a national championship win.
Now, the dynamic duo have the Dallas Cowboys at the top of the NFL in their first year in the league, rolling to their ninth straight win Sunday at home against the Ravens.
It wasn't a pretty win, as Baltimore ensured it wouldn't be, but at the end of the day the Cowboys made even more history in 2016 - beating the Ravens for the first time to set the record for the team's longest ever winning streak.
With a quick turnaround for Thanksgiving against the Redskins, I hope that Cowboys Nation can get the most out of today's #VictoryPoloMonday. To help out, here is our accompanying Tweet Break - featuring the best Cowboys related tweets for #BALvsDAL.
Grinding out Yards
Perhaps the best part about the Cowboys' 2016 success is that other teams know what to expect from Dallas' offense, yet they still power this team to victory each week.
The Cowboys have 8 straight games with 400+ total yards of offense, the longest streak by any team since the 2012-13 Broncos (10 straight)
Ezekiel Elliott became the Cowboys' rookie rushing champion, surpassing Tony Dorsett despite just six first-half carries. His fresh legs then helped Dallas absolutely dominate the second half of this game to secure the win.
After holding @dallascowboys rookie rushing record for 39 yrs, I'll be on that sideline tomorrow 2 see @EzekielElliott do his thing! Rumble!
Only stat I need for this game. Cowboys only needed 3 possessions in the 2nd half. Held the ball for 20:09 of 30 possible minutes.
Cowboys Nation is always hungry for more, and with Thanksgiving being our next chance to see Zeke run the rock, we'll happily enjoy the fact that this rookie will never. stop. eating.
Guys, I worry that Ezekiel Elliott isn't getting enough food. He's always asking to eat after every play.
Dak Prescott's Progress
Reporter: "Dak, you just seem to get better every week." @dak: "Question?
In what I believe can honestly be called one of the weirdest weeks in Cowboys history, thanks to Tony Romo's press conference and secession of the starting QB job to Dak Prescott, the hot-handed rookie QB handled things as flawlessly as ever - begging for questions that focused on the task at hand with the Ravens.
Now that he beat the Ravens behind three more touchdown passes, Prescott is continuing to impress - leaving the media to dig deeper for questions that can put Dak's unprecedented career thus far into perspective.
Of course, at its purest level, Prescott is just a kid having fun on the field right now with his backfield mate Zeke Elliott.
Wait for it... https://t.co/Cx5H139Rgh
When you add up Witt and Romo's years playing high school, college, and pro football it's older than me lol @JasonWitten @tonyromo #FunFact
Just Getting Started...
The voices of reason in the Dallas Cowboys' locker room understand that this 9-1 start, with the potential to go to 10-1 in just three days, should be regarded as just the start for a team that has chased the elusive Super Bowl for 20 years.
Even Brice Butler, in just his second year (and first full one) with the Cowboys is hopeful about the opportunity to make this a truly special season.
Brice Butler: Consecutive wins record don't matter. I'm a big Warriors fan. They got the record last year but they didn't win in the Finals.
The Warriors scored a bunch of points last year and won a bunch of games. The Cowboys are doing the same thing right now. Sports! Winning!
The Baltimore Ravens were supposedly going to be yet another true test for the first-place Cowboys, a narrative that has been played on repeat so much that you inherently skip it every time it comes up on shuffle.
Their defense made things tough at times on Dallas, but they left AT&T Stadium with a loss - and one that they didn't accept all too gracefully.
Joe Flacco: "We should've beat them. I'm not kidding. I felt very confident and we should've beat that team." #BALvsDAL
You used to be the Browns, Ravens Nation. You should be better at handling losses. That, and you didn't do a whole lot when it comes to stopping Scott Linehan's best wide receiver - Dez Bryant.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh on single coverage vs. Dez Bryant: "Probably wasn't the best decision...but you've also got to stop the run.
If you're looking for @DezBryant today, there's a good chance you'll find him in the end zone. #DallasCowboys
Let's have a great Thanksgiving week, Cowboys Nation! Enjoy the rest of #VictoryPoloMonday, and stay posted with Inside The Star as we continue to break down this Ravens win while looking ahead to Washington.
Taco Charlton Isn’t Going Anywhere After Strong Preseason Week 3
Dallas Cowboys Defensive End Taco Charlton might be turning things around. The former first round draft pick didn't have a great couple of seasons to start his career off, which forced him to be in a battle to earn a spot on the Cowboys 53-man roster this offseason. Three weeks into the preseason, it looks like he's a lock to make the team. In a "Dress Rehearsal" game that went great for the Cowboys, Charlton's performance was among the best players.
A couple of weeks ago, I discussed how the Cowboys' younger defensive ends could force the team to move on from Taco. From Dorance Armstrong to Jalen Jelks, there's a handful of promising players that were participating in a positional battle that one way or another, included Taco Charlton.
However, the Michigan product showed up to play versus the Los Angeles Rams with two passes batted down. Despite making such plays, we still hadn't seen much from him in the pass rush department.
That changed against the Houston Texans last Saturday when he managed to get two sacks (one strip-sack), two forced fumbles and a recovery. This was undoubtedly Taco's best game in his career. He still has a lot to prove, but it was definitely good to see him have a "breakout" preseason game.
With such performance, it doesn't seem like he'll be going anywhere in 2019. Charlton won't be a starter for this team, but he could become a very important rotational piece for Rod Marinelli's defense. He has a great opportunity to find playing time during the first two weeks of the season before Robert Quinn returns from suspension.
One unfortunate note was that in his best game yet, Taco went out injured twice (ankle). The first time he went back to the field to get some more but had to walk off the field for a second time. Hopefully, he's able to play next Thursday but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't after having a breakout game versus the Texans.
Taco Charlton still has a very long way to justify being a first-round pick, but his play against Houston was a start. It will be very interesting to see how he plays in the 2019 regular season. He'll have to fight for playing time and he'll have to make every snap count to turn his career around.
Cowboys’ Taryn Christion Gets Time at QB; More Coming?
Last night was the first time we've seen Taryn Christion, the Dallas Cowboys' fourth quarterback on the current depth chart, actually playing the position in preseason. Could we see more of Christion at QB in this Thursday's finale, and at what point should Mike White be worried?
Signed just a few days before training camp began, Christion has been tried at running back, receiver, and various special teams units while the Cowboys were in Oxnard. But last week he started getting more time at quarterback, and last night's win over the Houston Texans saw him playing a few drives at QB to close the game out.
Sure, Taryn came in fourth behind White in the rotation. But that Dallas thought to give him reps in that game, the critical dress rehearsal game, is telling.
Jason Garrett doesn't get cute with rotations and playing time. He's old school, and there's meaning in every decision he makes about when and how guys get time in preseason.
Ironically, the decision came following Mike White's best preseason game this year. He went 6-of-9 for 56 yards and a touchdown, plus avoided any sacks or turnovers.
Rather than let White keep building on that, though, Dallas pulled him for Taryn Christion in the 4th quarter. It seemed as if the Cowboys were determined to get him some time at QB.
An even better showcase will come this Thursday night. The Cowboys host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the final preseason game; we know Dak Prescott won't be playing, and the team may even protect Cooper Rush with limited time on the field.
Dallas likely intends to give Christion some significant playing time on Thursday. And to help make that easier, they played him last night to get some of those butterflies out of his system.
No, Taryn Christion probably isn't going to make the 53-man roster. Neither is Mike White, for that matter. It feels like the battle for the number-three QB is more about the practice squad now.
But whatever the case, the battle seems to be heating up. Dallas appears more invested in Christion now as a quarterback than at any other point since he arrived; some added intrigue for Thursday's final preseason game.
HOU 0, DAL 34: Defense Dominates in Dress Rehearsal Game
The Dallas Cowboys couldn't have scripted a better result in tonight's dress rehearsal game against the Houston Texans. All three phases of the game made big plays as they dominated 34 to 0.
The night belonged to the defense as they terrorized Houston's starters and reserves along the offensive line with 8 sacks. Taco Charlton, a former first-round pick turned outcast was the star of the night with 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. In my opinion, if there were any doubts about him making the roster he put them to bed tonight.
Kerry Hyder showed once again why he's one of the smartest free-agent signings of 2019. After being a lost man in the 3-4 defensive scheme with his former team the Lions, he's done a really good job applying pressure even though he hadn't recorded any sacks in the first two preseason games. However, tonight he recorded 2 sacks and reminded everyone of the player who had 8 sacks in 2016.
The young guys weren't to be left out in this defensive clinic. Dorance Armstrong, Trysten Hill, Daniel Wise, and Joe Jackson all had half sacks. Rookie Safety Donovan Wilson had one of the plays of the night with a beautiful interception as he tapped both feet before heading out of bounds. Cornerback C.J. Goodwin, who will probably make the roster on his special teams ability, got in on the interception party himself high pointing a contested pass.
Dak Prescott was only 2 for 5 (11 for 14 in the preseason) but managed to escape what looked like a sure sack and roll to his left and threw a rope to Michael Gallup for a touchdown. The two have shown a lot of growth and chemistry during training camp, something that was missing at times in 2018.
Wide Receiver Devin Smith had 6 receptions for 79 yards while Cedrick Wilson snagged 3 passes on 4 targets. Both receivers are fighting for the final roster spots in the receiver group which they'll have to continue to do next week against the Buccaneers.
Tight End Marcus Lucas had a very solid game with 4 catches for 50 yards. He will definitely be a player to watch in the final preseason game before final cuts are made. Cooper Rush went 15 for 25 and further solidified his position as the primary backup to Prescott. Mike White was also solid going 6 for 9 and tossing a touchdown.
Special teams got in on the action themselves when Linebacker Joe Thomas recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown.
Now the Cowboys have only one more preseason game before the 2019 season begins. All that's left now is figuring out the last few roster spots and staying as healthy as possible. September 8th is right around the corner.
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