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After looking lost amid a sea of fast-approaching purple jerseys for much of the first half, Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys faced one of the tougher situations of his young career. He responded by showing exactly why the team promoted him over Tony Romo on the team’s depth chart, and from that point the Cowboys have been in cruise control, leading the Baltimore Ravens, 24-10, early in the fourth quarter.
The key sequence for Dallas came with just under nine minutes left in the second quarter. Down 7-0 and facing a 1st-and-30 against the top-ranked Baltimore defense, Prescott came alive, tearing down the field for a 12-yard run. Over the next five plays, he drove his team 60 yards, tossing an off-balance throw to Cole Beasley for a 3-yard touchdown.
That the Cowboys were in the game at all was shocking based on how the team had performed until Prescott’s big drive. Dallas’s high-powered offense was forced to punt on its first four drives as Prescott, under intense pressure from Baltimore’s front-seven, completed just four of his first 10 passes. But after that tough start, a familiar formula of gutsy passes by Prescott and tough runs by Ezekiel Elliott kicked in and even Baltimore has been powerless to stop it.
Prescott has thrown three touchdowns thus far, while Elliott has 97 yards from scrimmage. Along the way, Elliott passed Tony Dorsett for the franchise’s rookie rushing record that had stood since 1977.
The Ravens, meanwhile, looked electric on the team’s second possession of the game, easily driving down the field 90 yards on just six plays, but beyond that have barely been able to move the ball against a motivated Dallas defense.
Elsewhere at halftime:
■ Le’Veon Bell was at the top of his game, totaling 125 yards from scrimmage, but the Pittsburgh Steelers were not able to do all that much with it, leading by just 14-0 against the winless Cleveland Browns at halftime.
■ In a matchup of good young quarterbacks, Andrew Luck got a better start than Marcus Mariota as the Indianapolis Colts were leading the Tennessee Titans, 21-7, at halftime with Luck having thrown for 186 yards and 2 touchdowns.
■ The Cincinnati Bengals were leading the Buffalo Bills, 12-10, at halftime, a lead that would have been greater if Mike Nugent had not missed two extra-points. Of more concern for the Bengals was an injury to A.J. Green that resulted in the star receiver having to leave the game.
■ Looking to end a four-game losing streak, the Minnesota Vikings were up, 20-17, over the Arizona Cardinals thanks to a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by Xavier Rhodes.