ARLINGTON, Texas — Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes to Cole Beasley to spark the previously punchless Dallas passing game and rushed for a career-high 82 yards in the Cowboys’ 40-7 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
Perhaps pumped up by some pregame mingling with UFC fighter Conor McGregor , the Cowboys rolled to a 24-0 halftime lead, with Beasley getting his first two touchdowns of the season for the NFL’s 30th-ranked passing offence that was facing the league’s No. 1 pass defence.
Prescott had 151 of his 183 yards passing in the first half because Dallas didn’t need to throw while coasting during a second-half blowout.
The 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year had already his personal best in rushing for a game when he spun out of a sack for the longest run of his career, a 28-yarder. He scored Dallas’ first touchdown on a 17-yard run .
The Cowboys (3-3) won their first three games of the season at 9-year-old AT&T Stadium for the first time. Most of their offensive struggles have been in the three road losses.
No such difficulties this time, even when Prescott lost control of the ball twice and basically dribbled to himself on two of his career-high 11 runs. He also completed a first-down pass to former Baylor power forward Rico Gathers, making it quite the basketball day as well.
Beasley had his second career 100-yard receiving game with 101 yards on nine catches. The scoring plays were from 17 and 9 yards.
Trailing by at least 20 at halftime for the second straight week, the Jaguars (3-3) had to abandon their preferred running attack again. They also were without Leonard Fournette for the fourth time with a hamstring injury, and have a banged-up offensive line on its third left tackle.
Blake Bortles, who established a career high in yards passing in consecutive weeks and had a chance to become the fifth NFL quarterback with three straight games of at least 375 yards, was 15 of 26 for 149 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
The Dallas defence, a top 10 unit overshadowed coming into the game, lost its shutout on Bortles’ 34-yard pass to Dede Westbrook midway through the third quarter.
But the Cowboys answered with their second interception of the season, by Jeff Heath as part of triple coverage , and Jourdan Lewis’ recovery just barely inbounds of receiver Keelan Cole’s fumble after a catch.
The centerpiece of the Dallas offence, NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott, was something of an afterthought with the prolific passing in the first half. But he finally passed Prescott’s rushing total for good on a 15-yard scoring run for a 37-7 lead and finished with 106 yards on 24 carries.
It was the first meeting for Elliott and outspoken Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was taken one spot behind the Cowboys star at No. 5 in the 2016 draft. Both teams are obviously happy with the pick.
The Jaguars rode their defence to a spot in the AFC championship game last season, and Elliott has been arguably the league’s most productive back in two-plus seasons. The 2016 rushing leader as a rookie, Elliott was suspended for six games last season over domestic violence allegations.
Ramsey almost had an interception on the sideline at the goal line with the Jaguars down 24-7 late in the third quarter, but couldn’t get his second foot inbounds.
Four-time All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles had four carries for 7 yards and a 5-yard catch as the backup to T.J. Yeldon less than a week after signing with the Jaguars. It was the former Kansas City star’s first game at the home of the Cowboys. He was a freshman on Texas’ national championship team during the 2005 season and lives near Houston.
Jaguars: DE Calais Campbell left in the first half with a rib injury. … TE Niles Paul didn’t return because of a knee injury.
Cowboys: WR Tavon Austin left in the second half with a groin injury and didn’t return.
Jaguars: Home against Houston next Sunday.
Cowboys: At Washington next Sunday.