CLEVELAND (AP) — Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott threw three touchdown passes and kept any talk for Tony Romo unnecessary, leading the Dallas Cowboys to a 35-10 win on Sunday over the winless Cleveland Browns.
Rookie Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 92 yards and scored twice and durable tight end Jason Witten had 134 yards receiving for the Cowboys, off to their best start since 2007.
Prescott has won seven straight starts since losing the season opener, and with the Cowboys (7-1) leading the NFC East and getting better, there’s no reason for the team to accelerate Romo’s return from a back injury.
Romo returned to practice earlier this week and is looking at a return at some point this season, but with how Prescott is playing, the 36-year-old doesn’t look as if he’ll be back on the field anytime soon.
The miserable Browns (0-9) dropped their franchise-record 12th straight game going back to last season and are 3-27 in their past 30. They also started 0-9 in 1975.
Cleveland, which also lost 19 of 20 — also a team record — got just 28 total yards in the second half.
According to STATS, the Browns are the first team since the 1964 Denver Broncos to allow at least 25 points in their first nine games.
Prescott threw a 26-yard TD pass to Jason Witten and a 6-yarder to Cole Beasley in the first half to help open a 21-3 lead.
And while he’s pushing Romo deeper into the background, the fourth-round pick from Mississippi State is also drawing comparisons to another Cowboys rookie QB — Troy Aikman.
Prescott broke two of the Hall of Famer’s team rookie records in the blowout, surpassing him in TDs and completions. With eight games left, Prescott, who finished 21 of 27 for 247 yards, will surpass all of Aikman’s first-year marks and may start to chip away at some others as well.
Elliott, too, has Cowboys fans thinking about those glory days when Aikman and Emmitt Smith were together in Dallas’ backfield. The first-round pick scored on runs of 10 and 8 yards, giving him eight this season.
Elliott’s 8-yard TD run gave the Cowboys a 28-10 lead in the third quarter, and Prescott put Dallas up by 25 points when he lofted a 2-yard pass to Gavin Escobar.
In the first quarter, Prescott connected with a wide-open Witten on a 26-yard TD to give the Cowboys a 7-3 lead and thousands of Dallas fans who invaded FirstEnergy Stadium their first chance to scream.
It was Prescott’s 10th pass, pushing him past Aikman’s rookie record and then he got No. 11 with his short toss to Beasley make it 21-3.
ONE TOUGH COWBOY
The 34-year-old Witten, who had eight receptions, made his 155th consecutive start, breaking a team record held by linebacker Lee Roy Jordan.
It was Witten’s first 100-yard game since 2013 and the 13-year veteran moved past Calvin Johnson (11,619 yards) for 28th place on the career list.
Browns rookie quarterback Cody Kessler returned after missing one game with a concussion and passed for 203 yards. Kessler threw a 12-year-old TD pass to Terrelle Pryor and also took several hard shots as Dallas’ defense teed off on him with the big lead in the second half.
ERVING VS. IRVING
Five plays into the game, the Browns and Cowboys were brawling.
Cleveland starting center Cam Erving and Dallas defensive end David Irving scuffled following a play and both were ejected. It’s not clear what prompted the altercation, which included punches being thrown and ended with Erving pulling off Irving’s helmet.
The loss of Erving caused the latest shakeup on Cleveland’s offensive line as John Greco moved from right guard to center, Alvin Bailey went from left guard to right and rookie Spencer Drango came in.