The Cowboys got a big win against the Giants no matter what the records of these teams are. This team has no room for error and a small chance to make the postseason, which is why they are firmly in playoff mode. One of their biggest struggles all season long has been in their passing game.
After ranking 23rd last season in passing yards, they are 25th this year with 2,611 passing yards. Now, the Cowboys are understandably a running team. However, without Ezekiel Elliott, there rushing effort has been adequate but not necessarily dominant. To couple with that, the quarterback-to-receiver connection has been inconsistent at best. There are two sides to this coin as Dak Prescott admitted that he’s struggled to get the ball to his guys.
Because of his amazing rookie season, we often forget that he’s only a second-year player with plenty of room to grow and improve. That’s why even though we’ve seen him miss guys high or low, a bigger portion of this offense’s issues needs to fall at the feet of his supporting cast. Without Ezekiel Elliott, guys like Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Jason Witten, and others need to step up and help out their quarterback.
This past win over the Giants told the story of the Cowboys’ passing struggles but also gave you hope it can be better. For instance, when you want the ball as much as Dez Bryant does, you better make plays when it comes your way. Out of the gate, Dez had a bad drop and there is not other way to describe it.
Dez Bryant. Elite receiver. pic.twitter.com/gKiRNK0QqT— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) December 10, 2017
He wasn’t the only guy not producing much in the early portion of this game. Jason Witten didn’t have a catch, Beasley was getting double coverage, and Terrance Williams was catching the ball but running east-west not north-south. Right before the half, trailing 10-3, Bryant made sure he answered the call:
Dez Bryant's sixth TD of the season. pic.twitter.com/C6DhDX22pH— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) December 11, 2017
That’s the kind of Dez Bryant stuff we’ve grown accustomed to but it was the first 50-yard touchdown he’s had since the Steelers game last season. Additionally, that wasn’t Janoris Jenkins, this was Brandon Dixon. Though the game was slow into the third quarter, that play gave Prescott confidence to trust his playmakers.
Prescott and his receivers battled through frustrations but eventually they overcame. In the fourth quarter, the Cowboys’ offensive weapons went wild. Cole Beasley was tired of being a non-factor and we saw what makes him so dangerous:
3rd and 2?— Cowboys Nation (@CowboysNation) December 10, 2017
Beasley. 54 yards. 1st down. pic.twitter.com/rQqrryaUPd
That was a turning point of the game as the offense started to pay back a defense that kept them in it. Jason Witten only snagged one catch in this game but he made it count:
If that wasn’t enough, Rod Smith became a huge receiving threat when he caught a short pass over the middle and took it 81 yards for the score putting the Cowboys up 23-10.
Smith would add another rushing touchdown late and the Cowboys walked out of New York with their playoff hopes in hand.
It just so happens that Prescott finished with a career best 332 passing yards, three touchdowns, a 66.7 completion percentage, and a 137.1 passer rating (second-highest of the season).
Some will mention that Prescott’s numbers were largely inflated with RAC yards. That’s the entire point of this article, it was really nice to see Dak’s supporting cast dominate a quarter of football. You have to be able to exploit the mismatches in this league to have success. At least for this one game, the Cowboys’ talent was superior and they needed their receivers to prove that. They absolutely destroyed the Giants by using the run after catch. It was a return to 2016 and how they were able to move the ball in a multitude of ways.
Dallas was able to run the ball efficiently enough in this game but if they didn’t take advantage of the Giants’ beat up secondary, it would have been a major disappointment. Dak got them the ball and they did the rest which is not something we’ve seen too much of this season. They took the pressure off of Dak and that’s what you expect from veteran playmakers.
The Cowboys have a very slim chance of being part of the postseason but crazier things have happened. They are playing a one-game season right now, and it’s on to the Raiders. These offensive weapons must build off the momentum of these past two victories. It’s been a long and stressful season for a lot of guys on this team but win on Sunday and this team will have another huge shot of optimism and confidence. The Cowboys will get their stud back in Ezekiel Elliott and if they’re somehow lucky enough to find a way into the dance, all bets are off.
It was about time for this supporting cast to steal the show but now can they do it again?