Cowboys vs. Colts score, takeaways: Defense forces four turnovers in the second half as Dallas knocks out Indy

The Cowboys advanced to 9-3 in the season after handling the Colts 54-19 Sunday night.

Indy gave Dallas a run for his money out of goal, scoring 10 points on his first two possessions to take an early lead. The Cowboys were able to launch a few touchdown drives to leap forward, but the Colts had an opportunity to go into the break with a surprise lead, especially after Stephon Gilmore defeated Dak Prescott with just under three minutes to go in the second quarter. However, Matt Ryan and company stayed on only one field goal on that possession, and the veteran quarterback threw a pick on the drive that followed, leading to a five-play touchdown march from Dallas that went up eight before the break .

In the second half, Indianapolis was again the first to score thanks to a 15-yard touchdown catch by Alec Pierce, but failed to tie against Dallas after a two-point try failed against Parris Campbell. The Cowboys absorbed that punch and countered with a 75-yard touchdown drive through the offensive line. At that point, the defense did the rest, forcing Indianapolis to make four straight turnovers to end the game.

Dak Prescott completed 20 of his 30 passes for 170 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Tony Pollard and Michael Gallup each found the end zone twice. On the other side, Matt Ryan was 21st of 37. He rushed for 233 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

For a more detailed breakdown of how this game played out, check out our takeaways below.

Why the Cowboys won

As we continue to view Dallas as a Super Bowl threat, the main reason is their defense. That was on full display in the fourth quarter, when the Cowboys slammed the door completely while the Colts possibly started the commotion. After Dan Quinn’s defense allowed a 15-play touchdown drive that went 90 yards and put Indy within two points of the knot, he flipped a switch. The offense gave them some cushion as they made a 75-yard touchdown drive themselves to extend the lead to nine, but they didn’t need it. The fourth quarter was a defensive avalanche with four straight turnovers, including a scoop and a Malik Hooker goal. Even if the defense didn’t score alone, they set up the offense to concede, which they did after each of the following three turnovers. That led to a 33-0 run in the fourth quarter that allowed Dallas to race to its ninth win.

That 33 points is the second most points scored by a team in the fourth quarter of a game in NFL history.

Of course, defense will be the main story of this game, but the running game had its moments as well. As a team, Dallas rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns. That was largely led by Tony Pollard – who even started Sunday night with a healthy Ezekiel Elliott on the roster – as he totaled 91 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

CeeDee Lamb was also a crucial factor in the passing game. Not only did he find the end zone and lead the team in receiving, but as Dallas kept him moving, he freed others to make impact plays as well. A great example of this was Michael Gallup’s first touchdown of the day in the second quarter. Lamb waved to the left, which forced Stephon Gilmore – who originally covered Gallup – to stay out. Gallup worked in the middle of the field and eventually connected with Prescott, who rolled out to the right for the score.

Why the Colts lost

Indianapolis seemed to throw its best punch at the Cowboys, but it just wasn’t strong enough to make a lasting impression. They initially took advantage of some short fields and built up a slim lead early on, but the offensive line allowed the Dallas front to get home late in the first half. After jumping out to a 10-7 lead, Matt Ryan was fired at the third deficit after back-to-back possession, forcing Indy to put the ball away. Then they were only pinned at a field goal, though the defense picked up Prescott and immediately put the offense in the red zone. Ryan also threw a pick a minute before halftime, which was plenty of time for Dallas to start another touchdown run.

Those four first-half possessions after their first touchdown was the time for Indy to plant her flag in the ground and put Dallas on alert, but they only managed to score three points down that stretch. With the talent gaps between these two teams being so great, the Colts had to play perfectly and capitalize on those opportunities when they are there for selection.

Of course, the second-half collapse with four straight turnovers will put every team in a coffin. This continued a rough trend for Indianapolis in the fourth quarter. In Week 13, the Colts had a -19 point difference in the fourth quarter of their last two games. Being beaten 33-0 in the last quarter won’t exactly help those numbers.

turning point

While attacking will draw most of the attention in the second half, Dallas began to pull away just before halftime. Defense held the Colts to a field goal, although offense gave them red-zone football after an interception from Dak Prescott. On the next defensive possession, Malik Hooker pulled out Matt Ryan and sparked a touchdown drive through offense that put the Cowboys an eight-eight lead before the break. That kept the Colts at bay and maintained their lead even when Indy scored on a 90-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter.

After that, of course, everything went wrong. Dallas extended the lead after the offense dropped 75 yards down the field to rise to nine, and the defense went on to record four straight turnovers to win the game, including a 38-yard scoop-and -Score by Hooker.

game of the game

CeeDee Lamb’s 20-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Dak Prescott was one of the more impressive individual performances of the game. The Cowboys wideout pulled in a crosser in third and ninth place and appeared to go down well short of the first-down mark. However, when Rodney McLeod Jr. wrapped him up, Lamb never touched the ground, instead falling to the safety of the Colts. Realizing he wasn’t down, Lamb made the heads-up play to dash into the end zone to equal the score and give Dallas their first lead of the night. Lamb finished with a team high five catches for 71 yards and this score.

What’s next

From here, Dallas will be hanging out at AT&T Stadium, waiting for the Houston Texans for a Week 14 showdown on Sunday. The Colts will be bye in Week 14 before taking on the Vikings in Minnesota in Week 15 to start the final leg of the 2022 regular season.

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