Ezekiel Elliott, the league’s leading rusher in 2016 and 2018, was limited to 10 carries for 52 yards with a long of seven, and the Cowboys recorded just four first downs while going 3-for-15 on third downs and finishing with just 244 yards of offense.
Dallas claimed its third NFC East title in six seasons last year, but saw many of its mainstays depart during the offseason, including new Bengals’ right tackle La’el Collins, who was waived to save cap space. Wide receiver Amari Cooper and defensive end Randy Gregory also exited, and then left tackle Tyron Smith suffered an avulsion fracture of his knee in August and is on injured reserve.
The Bengals faced a backup quarterback the last time they played Dallas, when Andy Dalton replaced Prescott while he was out with a dislocated ankle in 2020. Cincinnati lost that game 30-7 at home with a backup quarterback of their own as Brandon Allen made his third start while Joe Burrow was out with a torn ACL/MCL.
Cincinnati came out of its opener with two injuries of note but otherwise appears healthy. Tee Higgins remains in concussion protocol after he was tackled high in the second quarter, and long snapper Clark Harris is on injured reserve with a torn bicep.
Like the Cowboys, the Bengals will be looking to bounce back from a Week 1 loss. Burrow threw an uncharacteristic four turnovers in the first half Sunday (five total), but led a second-half comeback – while the defense kept the game close – to send it to overtime with multiple chances to win it.
Evan McPherson’s point-after attempt on a last-second, game-tying touchdown was blocked, and he missed a 29-yarder in overtime after a high snap from emergency long snapper Mitch Wilcox. The team signed backup Cal Adomitis from the practice squad to replace Harris moving forward, but Wilcox remains the emergency option if something were to happen to Adomitis in a game.
“Now we’ve got to get Cal up to speed,” special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons said Monday. “That’s a lot of looks to see in a week. Dallas is a team that loves to rush too. We’ve been working on that throughout training camp, a lot of looks.”
Taylor liked how his team responded to its first-half struggles Sunday and expects an even better response this week after the loss.
“They responded to adversity like I hoped they would,” Taylor said. “No finger pointing when you’re down. No woe is me. Just buckled up and made plays to get us back in the game, which they did. Guys just kept trying to make one more play to help us win the game. And unfortunately it just wasn’t our day (Sunday). The fortunate thing we thing is we have six days to get ready for the next one. And if we can find a way to get this win, we’ll feel good about that, keep building on that. You got confidence in this locker room that it’s a talented group. They’ve worked hard. It’s important to them. Disappointed we didn’t win but they are ready to regroup and go after another one.”
Bengals at Cowboys, 4:25 p.m., Ch. 7, 12; 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7