Eight different pass-catchers? Cowboys spice up offensive attack

LANDOVER, Md. -- It didn't matter that Michael Gallup was on the sideline, Dak Prescott was going to Devin Smith. If the Washington Redskins were going to bite on Prescott's play-action fake, the Dallas Cowboys' quarterback was going to throw the ball deep to Smith because that was the correct read.

You know Smith, right? He was a 2015 second-round pick of the New York Jets, but his career never got going because twice he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Smith was out of football last season and, truthfully, opened training camp deep down the Cowboys' depth chart.

But Prescott was going to him even though the Cowboys were trailing 7-0 and did not really have much going offensively to start the game. When safeties stepped up and Smith ran by Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, Prescott had his 51-yard touchdown.

"It was great just to see him get out there and put the boosters on and throw the ball out there and he went under it and it was great," Prescott said. "I'm happy for a guy like that who's had a great camp. Obviously done a really good job up to this point. Now he's going to just help us out. As you said, he's got some speed. He can do a lot of things. He's going to be a big help to this offense."

The importance of the play mattered in two ways: It tied the score in the second quarter and showed the Cowboys have multiple players who can win. Dallas beat Washington 31-21, improving to 2-0.

"Attack different ways," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "Everybody's alive."

The Cowboys have plenty of proven players on offense.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott led the league in rushing in two of his first three seasons. Wide receiver Amari Cooper has played at a Pro Bowl level since the Cowboys sent a first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders for him last October. Tight end Jason Witten might not have a 100-catch season in him, but he remains a threat. Same for wide receiver Randall Cobb, who spent his first seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers.

On Sunday, Prescott completed throws to eight different pass-catchers. Smith had three catches for 74 yards. Backup tight end Blake Jarwin had one catch, but for the second straight week he had a reception of more than 20 yards. Rookie Tony Pollard caught one pass.

In the season-opening win against the New York Giants, Prescott completed throws to seven different pass-catchers.

"It starts with the guys protecting up front, and then the quarterback makes great decisions," Garrett said. "You want to be able to feature certain guys in your offense, but we also want to be able to say, 'Hey, I'll throw it to this guy. He's open, let's give him a chance.' I thought that showed up this week and that showed up last week. When you're doing that, you become a really difficult offense to stop."

Leading by a touchdown with 4:30 left in the third quarter, the Cowboys left Elliott on the bench to get some rest. Witten was given some breaks during the drive, too.

The Cowboys ran 11 plays, drove 68 yards and ate up five minutes, 39 seconds on the clock. They had to settle for a field goal and a 24-14 lead, but Jarwin had a 22-yard catch. Pollard had three carries for 15 yards, although he had a touchdown called back by a penalty. Cobb had a run and two catches. Gallup had two catches as well.

On the Cowboys' final two drives, Elliott carried 9 times for 42 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown, and Witten had an 18-yard reception for a first down.

"Let's credit this whole training camp and all the time I talked about not having Zeke and how that was going to help this offense," Prescott said. "Nobody blinks, nobody worries about anything. We've got a lot of guys who can come in and make plays."