Marlon Mack rushed for a career-high 139 yards and two scores and the Indianapolis Colts defense shut out one of the league’s hottest offenses, rolling to a 23-0 victory Sunday.
The Colts (8-6) stayed in the AFC playoff hunt with their seventh win in eight games and their first shutout since a 27-0 victory over Cincinnati on Oct. 19, 2014.
Dallas (8-6) failed to clinch the NFC East as its five-game winning streak ended.
But Mack starred in Sunday’s big show.
He set the tone by running through a tackle for a 19-yard gain on his first carry, wound up carrying 22 times and matching a career high with the two scoring runs — all against the league’s No. 3 rushing defense.
It marked the first time since Week 9 that Dallas allowed a team to top the 100-yard mark, and the Cowboys were shutout for the first time in more than 15 years. New England was the previous team to achieve the feat with a 12-0 victory on Nov. 16, 2003.
Mack even outperformed Ezekiel Elliott, who came into the weekend as the NFL’s leading rusher. Elliott had 18 carries for 87 yards and caught seven passes for 41 yards.
But every time the Cowboys got near scoring position, Indy’s defense stymied them.
Denico Autry blocked a 44-yard field-goal attempt on Dallas’ first possession, Elliott lost 2 yards and fumbled on fourth-and-1 from the Colts 3 on their next possession and the Cowboys were knocked out of field-goal range on Tyquan Lewis’ sack on the Cowboys’ final chance in the first half.
It was more of the same in the second half.
Pierre Desir broke up a third-down pass to force a punt, Darius Leonard broke up another pass on fourth-and-1 from the Colts 39 to start the fourth quarter and George Odum capped the day with an interception deep in Colts’ territory on fourth down in the waning minutes.
Indy’s offense, meanwhile, repeatedly took advantage of Dallas miscues.
Mack scored on a 1-yard plunge following the blocked field goal and Andrew Luck used a defensive holding call against Anthony Brown on third down to set up Adam Vinatieri for a 43-yard field goal to close out the half with a 10-0 lead.
Mack started the second half with a 6-yard scoring run to make it 17-0 and Vinatieri made two more field goals to seal it.
Luck was 16 of 27 for 192 yards and T.Y. Hilton caught five passes for 85 yards despite not practicing all week because of an ankle injury.
Dak Prescott finished 24 of 39 with 206 yards and the one interception. Amari Cooper had four receptions for 32 yards.
Cowboys: Right guard Zack Martin missed the first game of his career with an injured left knee. Dallas improvised by moving left guard Connor Williams to right guard and inserting Xavier Su’a-Filo at right guard. But Su’a-Filo left early in the second quarter with an eye injury and did not return.
Colts: Veteran backup Joe Haeg replaced right guard Mark Glowinski (ankle) in the starting lineup and defensive tackle Al Woods left in the third quarter with an injured leg and did not return. Starting center Ryan Kelly returned from a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee after missing the previous three games and the Colts did not allow a sack.
Cowboys: Will try to wrap up the NFC East next Sunday when they host Tampa Bay.
Colts: Close out their home schedule next Sunday when Eli Manning and the New York Giants return to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since winning their most recent Super Bowl.