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Cooper Rush leads Dallas Cowboys to win over Cincinnati Bengals: 3 takeaways

Vincent Frank

Prior to Sunday’s outing against the Cincinnati Bengals, Cooper Rush had started all of one game since he entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent of the Dallas Cowboys back in 2017.

Rush was thrown into starting duties after Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a hand injury in Dallas’ ugly season-opening loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. With Prescott out at least a month and Dallas facing the defending AFC champion Bengals, there weren’t many expectations for the veteran journeyman.

Rush answered the call in a big way, leading Dallas to a shocking 20-17 home win over Cincinnati. Dallas found itself up 17-3 at the half before allowing Cincinnati to score 14 unanswered points to tie it up. That’s when Rush decided to pull a rabbit out of his hat. The backup led Dallas on a six-play, 33-yard drive that culminated in a Brett Maher 50-yard field goal for the win as time expired.

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Cooper Rush outplays Joe Burrow in Dallas Cowboys win

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Rush was workmanlike in his performance against Cincinnati. This is to say that the Central Michigan product avoided the big mistake while giving Dallas an opportunity to win the game late. Rush completed 19-of-31 passes for 235 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions.

That included a nine-yard touchdown pass to Noah Brown to open scoring. It was the culmination of a 12-play, 75-yard drive to set the momentum for the home squad. Dallas then concluded its first-half scoring on another 75-yard drive in which Tony Pollard took it in from one yard out for a 17-3 lead.

Sure thre were some issues for Dallas’ offense for most of the second half. But the Cowboys’ ability to hold Joe Burrow and Co. on a three-and-out late in the fourth quarter to set the stage for the Cowboys’ game-winning drive was big time.

As for Burrow, he was sacked a total of six times by a swarming Cowboys defense. That included two more sacks from star pass rusher Micah Parsons. All in all, it was a great team win for Dallas.

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Micah Parsons is the man for the Dallas Cowboys

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

One week after sacking Tom Brady two times en route to keeping Dallas close, Parsons was back up to his old tricks against Cincinnati. The NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate registered four quarterback hits and two sacks of Burrow on Sunday. The dude was just simply sensational as his Cowboys defense held Cincinnati in check throughout the afternoon.

Parsons has now registered four sacks through two games. It is the second-most in Cowboys history through two games behind only the great Charles Haley, who recorded 5.5 sacks through two games in 1994. Both of Parsons’ sacks last week forced a Buccaneers field goal. Another one did the same thing on Sunday in what ended up being a three-point win. In addition to those four sacks, Parsons now has six QB hits through two games. That’s inane.

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Tony Pollard outperforms Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas Cowboys win

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It was noted during the offseason that Dallas would cut ties with Elliott following the 2022 campaign regardless of how the former All-Pro running back performs. That’s primarily due to Elliott’s struggles on the ground and his bloated contract. However, the presence of Tony Pollard has also changed the dynamics a lot in Big D.

Simply put, the Memphis product outplayed his counterpart in Dallas’ first win of the season. Also an impending free agent, Pollard averaged 4.8 yards on nine attempts. Elliott went for an average of 3.5 yards on 15 rushes. Pollard also added four catches for 55 yards. That’s no small thing with the injury concerns Dallas has at wide receiver with Michael Gallup and James Washington both sidelined to injury. It could also loom large with Prescott out at least the next three games.