Tony Pollard, Cowboys snap losing skid with win over Saints

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Their run game issues are far from being fixed, but the Dallas Cowboys powered through and snapped a two-game losing skid on Thursday night in New Orleans.

The Cowboys, amid a COVID-19 outbreak that sidelined head coach Mike McCarthy and several other assistants, beat the Saints 27-17 behind big nights from CeeDee Lamb and Tony Pollard.

Pollard, who finished with 71 yards, broke open a 58-yard touchdown in the second half to give the Cowboys their first sizable lead of the game. That score, which put the Cowboys up 20-10 late in the third quarter, was Dallas’ longest on the ground since 2016.

The fourth quarter wasn’t great all around, as four interceptions were thrown in total. Saints quarterback Taysom Hill, though, accounted for three on three straight drives. The final one was returned for a touchdown by Carlos Watkins.

Hill found Deonte Harris for a 70-yard score in the final minutes, but the Cowboys recovered the following onside kick and ran out the clock for a 10-point win.

The Saints have now lost five straight. Hill, despite being the game's leading rusher with 101 yards, went 19-of-41 for 264 yards with four interceptions.

Dak Prescott, Cowboys WRs surge early

It took until the end of the first quarter, but the Cowboys’ wide receivers got back in sync after weeks of issues.

First, after missing two games due to COVID health and safety protocols, Amari Cooper hauled in a huge 41-yard grab to put the Cowboys in Saints territory. Prescott then found Lamb for another 33 yards before hitting Michael Gallup in the corner of the end zone for a wild touchdown grab, his first of the season.

Hill mounted a quick touchdown drive of his own, capped with a 24-yard toss to a wide-open Lil’Jordan Humphrey to even things up. Then, after holding Dallas to a field goal, he got the Saints right back into Cowboys territory just before the two-minute warning. Yet somehow, after a pass went off the fingers of Kenny Stills, Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse slid in and pulled off an interception while barely keeping his left toe in bounds to kill the drive.

Though Prescott nearly pulled off a TD drive to end the half — and Lamb hauled in what would’ve put him in the conversation for touchdown grab of the year had it counted — the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal and went into the break up six.

Lamb, who returned after sustaining a head injury two weeks ago, finished the night with 89 yards on seven receptions. Tight end Dalton Schultz had 43 yards on five grabs, and Gallup had 36 yards on five receptions.

In total, Prescott hit seven different targets for at least two receptions. He went 26-of-40 for 238 yards on the day with a touchdown and an interception.

Cowboys run game still struggling

The Cowboys and running back Ezekiel Elliott entered Thursday’s game with plenty of issues on the ground. And though there were flashes of success, their ground attack didn’t look great for most of the contest, a troubling sign for Dallas as it gets into the final stretch of the season.

Elliott ran for 45 yards on 13 carries, which marked his fourth straight game with fewer than 50 rushing yards. Though they ended up with 146 rushing yards, Lamb’s 33-yard catch in the first quarter was later ruled a lateral and changed to a run, which made Dallas' stats look much better than they actually were.

Save for Lamb and Pollard’s huge run, Dallas ran for only 55 yards Thursday.

Elliott ran for 25 yards last week against the Las Vegas Raiders, and had 32 yards the week prior against the Kansas City Chiefs. He has been used a lot less in recent weeks, having played in less than 59% of offensive snaps in the past four games compared to 84% in Dallas’ first seven games of the year.

Though he has been dealing with a bruised knee for nearly two months now, Elliott’s knee and the Cowboys' run game are certainly something they need to figure out, and soon.

Still, the win was a much needed one for Dallas after its latest struggles. For the Saints, it's a much different story.

Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard
Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard had their longest running touchdown since 2016 on Thursday night in New Orleans. (AP/Brett Duke)