Johnny Epstein of USA TODAY Sports breaks down how Duck Prescott̵
ARLINGTON, Texas – Andy Dalton scanned the terrain and rolled furiously from a sack as the clock ticked to 34 seconds.
Dalton then passed a 19-yard pass to Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup, who squeezed the ball and dragged his toes on the lawn before falling out of bounds. The possession was convincing, confirmed on examination.
Dalton reassembled, hoping to cross the midfield and position kicker Greg Zurline for a winning goal in the game before time ran out.
This time, Dalton sailed 38 yards on the right side line to the jumping Gallup. Zuerlein connects from 34 yards, raising the cowboys above the giants, 37-34.
“It was an important moment for all of us,” offensive co-ordinator Kelen Moore said on Monday. “For Andy to go out there, to do plays, a little off schedule. … He and Michael were on the same page.
“Obviously the last ball was big.”
The Cowboys hope it won’t be the last for Dalton this season.
Before the third quarter of Sunday’s game, Dalton played two clicks and threw one unfinished in four and a half games in Dallas. Duck Prescott then suffered a complex fracture and dislocation of his right ankle in a quarterback draw. Dalton was fitted with headphones in his helmet, while Prescott was splinted with a sterile bandage and transported to a local hospital for immediate surgery.
Already devastated by the injured cowboy team, it suffered its most significant blow to date.
Dalton was fired in his first game. The fourth quarter of the series will end with its lost mess with a missed click by Center rookie Tyler Biadash. But for most of a quarter and a half, Dalton controlled the cowboys’ violation. He made 9 of 11 passes for 111 yards.
“We trusted him,” said rookie CeeDee Lamb’s successor. “He is very calm and reserved. It’s like he’s been there before.
Maybe because for 10 seasons Dalton has.
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“I believe I’m a starter”
The Bengals selected Dalton out of TCU in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Dalton immediately took advantage of the starting role and kept his job as Cincinnati’s QB1 for 133 games until the end of 2019, taking his three-game bench last year. background of the team’s 0-8 start serves as the only injury-free break.
Each of Dalton’s first four seasons, he led the Bengals to a playoff game. In 2011, 2014 and 2016, Dalton was selected for the Pro Bowl. But four consecutive losing seasons mark the end of his term. Dalton left Cincinnati with a 70-61-2 mark as the starter, the best winning percentage of any Bengals quarterback with 25 or more starts, while completing 62% of his passes for 31,705 yards, 204 touchdowns and 118 interceptions.
The Cowboys signed it for a one-year deal in May.
“I believe I’m a starter in this league and I feel like I could bring a lot to the table,” Dalton said on May 6. “I will try to be the biggest asset of this team, try to help insult it, help Duck and help everyone as much as I can.
“Just looking at the big picture, I’m looking at the next half of my career.”
The insurance policy seemed reasonable, but the story was that Dalton wouldn’t need much.
Prescott has not missed a start since Dallas selected him in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Sunday marked his 69th race in a row, a section in which he completed 66% of his passes for 17,634 yards, 106 touchdowns. and 40 interceptions. Prescott added another 24 touchdowns via a quick connection to the reception. There was no contradiction between the quarterback.
“Duck has been great since I signed here,” Dalton said on Aug. 18 during his first training camp as a backup. “He’s a great leader, I think that’s number one. You see how you just make the guys around him buy everything we do, make sure they’re all on the same page, pushing the boys to be the best they can be. … Then insert his physical features that he can throw the ball well and move well and all things.
“It was a fun job.”
From the start of training camp until week 5, Dalton’s role in this “fun” relationship was out of the public eye. He would attend meetings with organized notes and details, refined by the old game plans, a “wealth of knowledge” to share, said head coach Mike McCarthy. Dalton went through major training sessions with Prescott and rookie Ben DiNucci, the three of them starting each day with what McCarthy calls a quarterback school. Leg work, throwing progressions and a two-minute workout challenged each quarterback to apply the technique naturally during the game. They served as successors to each other in practicing the two-minute workout. They then stood up as competitors in a goal-accurate game, observing each person’s degree of completion on a daily basis to scribble on the board of the quarterback’s boardroom.
Responsibilities are changing as Dalton is raised to starting clicks, with DiNucci now the archive. Dallas also intends to sign quarterback Gareth Gilbert of the Browns coaching team, many people with knowledge of the course confirmed to USA TODAY Sports on Monday night. People spoke on condition of anonymity, as the agreement was not yet formal.
“It’s one of those things where you never want anything to happen, but you have to stay ready,” Dalton said Sunday as the Cowboys improved to 2-3. “That’s what I did.” I stayed ready and I was ready to enter these games.
“I feel prepared for these moments.”
The Cowboys will have an extra day to prepare Dalton for his next moment, as Dallas will host the Arizona Cardinals in “Football on Monday Night.” The Cardinals 3-2 challenged more opponents than 0-5 giants.
The Arizona defense has allowed 20.4 points per game this season, the fifth most pathetic in the league. They held opponents up to 222.4 yards (also fifth best) and a total of 346.6 yards (10th).
Dallas is injured on both sides of the ball. Prescott joins the narrow end Blake Jarvin (torn ACL), on the right handles Lael Collins (thigh) and on the left handles Tyrone Smith (neck) as offensive players to undergo surgery at the end of the season. Even more players, including center Joe Looney, will miss the game in Arizona. But along with a busy receiving corps and Ezekiel Elliott running back, Dalton will have to lead the next subordinate brigade.
“We still have to attack people, to be aggressive,” Moore said. “People give us opportunities down and we manage.”
When Prescott was discharged from the hospital and returned home to recover on Monday, Moore and Dalton began smashing Dalton’s film at the end of the game and began planning their next appearance. Moore is confident that Dalton’s experience and mobility will allow him to work in sync with an inexperienced offensive line. The chemistry he showed with Gallup in the game he won also excited the coaches and players. Then Moore’s biggest concern: Catching up with Dalton’s game-calling preferences. Expect the volume of conversations and texts traded between them to increase.
“While we’re putting in the game plan, what makes you feel most comfortable?” “Make sure we’re on the same line,” Moore said. “As the week progresses, obviously as we improve and become very specific about our approach … just [make sure] we are on the same page. “
Dalton takes every moment, as he did in the fourth-quarter brawl, one step at a time.
“We just have to play together and find ways to win the game,” Dalton said. “We feel that we have been in these moments (under high pressure) too often already this season. It is shown that in this team there is no refusal and there is no refusal in what we do.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’s Johnny Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.