There are certain things about this Dallas Cowboys team that were predictable. No, not 4-1 predictable; that was not the forecast for a club that has plowed through 2016 with Tony Romo and Dez Bryant and assorted other standouts in street clothes.
But you know rookie Ezekiel Elliott was going to accomplish something like this -- even if Bengals defensive back Adam "Pacman'' Jones, the former Cowboy, previewed Sunday's meeting by suggesting that his baby daughter could lead the NFL in rushing, as Zeke does, due to the Dallas O-line play.
And you knew the O-line play would be superior -- even if CBS analyst Phil Simms drawled mindlessly during the telecast that Dallas' O-line is its "secret weapon.''
No, Ms. Pacman would not quite be able to rumble for ..., as Elliott did at AT&T Stadium in this shocking ... blowout of the Bengals. And no, none of the blockers who are guiding Zeke and fellow rookie Dak Prescott to all this success are "secrets.''
And heck, with this high-profile win, not even the defensive success of Morris Claiborne is a secret anymore.
As the game was winding down, on Sunday evening, I posted a survey on Twitter regarding Mo's deserved new nickname. There were some 600 votes within minutes, with "Mo Money'' taking a lead that would prove to be insurmountable.
Someday, there will be money for Mo, as he's becoming an "island''-type corner in his final contractual season. He drew the assignment, more often than not, of sticking with All-Pro Bengals receiver A.J. Green, and silenced him to three targets and one catch for nine yards.
The Cowboys defense is about dominoes, except you really don't know which way the talent -- or lack thereof -- will push. Will the lack of a pass rush from the front four mean no takeaways for the secondary? Or will the incompetence of the secondary negate anything the guys upfront accomplish?
How about neither?
Dallas now has 10 sacks in five games -- eight of those from this "needy'' defensive line, which is six more than the high-priced Giants D-line has accumulated. Tank Lawrence making his first appearance following the drug suspension helped; he was in on just 15 snaps, but his influence was measurable.
More measurable, because even the layman can see it: What Dallas did on offense with a group that is loaded, even with Tony Romo and Dez Bryant sidelined. Tyron Smith played hurt but was part of an O-line that bullied Geno Atkins and company. Zeke saw extra men in the box and ran through them and over them and around them and beyond them ...
... On the way to 134 yards and two scores. Terrance Williams, Brice Butler and Cole Beasley held up their end with Dez again playing cheerleader (and bouncing around as if there is nothing wrong with that knee). And Romo cheered on Dak Prescott, the QB who combined with Zeke is accomplishing the unprecedented: Never before in the first five games of a season has a rookie rusher and a rookie QB on the same team gained 500 rushing yards and 1,000 passing yards, respectively.
Zeke's work effectively ends any question about whether a team should take a running back with the fourth-overall pick; nobody is questioning the Dallas braintrust there anymore. That facet of the plan has worked almost as brilliantly as what the Cowboys have done at quarterback, where Romo's injury a little over six weeks ago immediately triggered both the elevation of Prescott and announcements from the powers that be that the throne would eventually be handled back to a healthy Romo.
There are "controversies''; "Romo vs. Dak,'' addressed once again by owner Jerry Jones with his Sunday night comment -- "Tony is our No. 1 quarterback'' -- is a storyline. But most of these things, for this team right now, they exist in the theoretical world outside of The Star in Frisco, not inside the gigantic petri dish in which this team really lives.
"Nothing outside of our building really concerns us,'' coach Jason Garrett said on Monday afternoon, about 24 hours after he addressed the Zeke "Feed Me'' hand motion -- imaginary spoon from imaginary bowl to gaping mouth.
"I was telling the coaches to keep feeding me," Elliott said afterward with a grin.
But not even this is controversial. (If you want a real Zeke concern, please understand my reports on his "Alpha Pup'' behavior, his desire to be the "Mayor of McKinney Ave.'' That's a trait the team would like to reel in.) Many observers assumed Garrett was chastising Elliott for showboating, when it fact RedBall was just talking about the right time and place for such gestures; in other words, don't do it in a way that an over-officious-jerk ref might construe as taunting.
But the right time and right place for this offense to be in what I've termed "Feast Mode''? That's all the time and every place.
And the right time and right place for "Mo' Money and this defense to cash in? The next opportunity comes Sunday with a challenge to this 4-1 mark in Green Bay.null