The Cowboys started the 2017 season with a convincing victory of the New York Giants, 19-3. Before we get into the game, let’s recognize another great performer on Sunday as Tony Romo made his broadcasting debut on CBS and he was spectacular.
Tony Romo with a little excitement here: "Boom! I'm back, baby! I'm Beast Mode!" pic.twitter.com/KUeWTOrVDZ— Brandon George (@DMN_George) September 10, 2017
Romo not only was calling out schemes and correctly telling everyone where the play was going, but he was very animated as well. This TV gig is a real good fit for him.
Alright, on to some Dallas Cowboys football.
1. Deja Vu all over again?
Things started out great with the Cowboys moving the ball well against a great Giants defense. And on the other side of the ball, the Giants offense couldn’t seem to go anywhere. Last year, the Cowboys drove the ball in Giants territory 12 times in two games and only came away with two touchdowns. On Sunday night, Dallas would get into Giants territory on all nine of their drives which is remarkably impressive. What wasn’t impressive though was the fact that again - they struggled finding the end zone. For the third straight game, the Cowboys would only score one touchdown.
Here are a couple first half stats that would indicate the game was a blowout:
The most frustrating point came after Brice Butler made a great catch to set the team up first-and-goal at the three yard-line. Dallas chose to pass on three straight plays, was unsuccessful, and had to settle for a field goal. It was strange that they didn’t give the ball to Ezekiel Elliott not even once.
Hey.... guys... ZEKE isn't suspended. Remember?— Nick Eatman (@nickeatman) September 11, 2017
It just felt like the Giants were going to get it together any time and with the Cowboys mostly kicking field goals, it wouldn’t take much to get back in the game. Fortunately for Dallas, the defense came through big this time.
2016: 19 points at home vs. NYG = narrow loss.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) September 11, 2017
2017: 19 points at home vs. NYG = comfortable win.
What an effort by the Dallas defense.
2. Eli under fire all night
The Cowboys defense will only get credit for three sacks, but Eli Manning was under duress the whole night. DeMarcus Lawrence had a great start to his season sacking Manning twice as well as sniffing out a screen pass and tackling the Giants running back, Orleans Darkwa, in the backfield for a loss.
DeMarcus Lawrence was phenomenal. Look at this play. pic.twitter.com/szjYVjHrLC— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) September 11, 2017
Charles Tapper also got his first career sack. Benson Mayowa should have gotten credit for a sack when he brought down Manning. Eli’s knee was clearly down, but for some reason the people in the booth didn’t feel the need to review the play. It was moot in the grand scheme of things, but Mayowa got cheated out of a sack.
While Maliek Collins and Stephen Paea didn’t decorate the stat sheet, they were constantly getting pressure inside, causing the pocket to collapse. On Tank’s first sack, Collins ran a stunt and took out two blockers, giving Lawrence a clear shot at Eli.
Not only did the Cowboys bring Manning to the ground, but the defensive line was disruptive, causing Manning’s throws to be off line. The offense could never get anything going.
Cowboys haven't allowed three or fewer points in a game since the 2013 season. Defense was downright dominant tonight. #cowboyswire— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) September 11, 2017
3. The special teams was special
It something that gets easy overlooked, but Cowboys punter, Chris Jones, constantly put the ball deep in Giants territory and the coverage was outstanding. The Cowboys would punt the ball four times on the night and New York would start their drives at the 6, 9, 10, and 10 yard lines.
The Cowboys had a strangle hold on the field possession all game and never let up.
4. Prescott was slightly off
The Cowboys second-year quarterback wasn’t sharp on his season debut. There were several throws where Dak Prescott was off target. He finished 24 for 39 for 268 yards on the night with a touchdown and no picks. Of course, even when he’s not great, he’s not terrible. Dak would not throw an interception, something he’s avoided doing in 14 of his 17 regular season games now.
One thing about Dak is that he seemed like he was doing a lot more at the line of scrimmage than he normally does. Maybe this is just Dak figuring things out, but is possible he had too much going on? It also looked like he improved a lot more as well.
5. Zeke was fed
Ezekiel Elliott would have 140 total scrimmage yards on 29 touches. The Cowboys went to Zeke early and often. It was a grind-it-out effort, but you could see the Giants defense star to wear down. As advertised in training camp, the Cowboys used Elliott more in the passing game as he had five catches for 36 yards.
Most times posting 100 scrimmage yards, first 16 career games (since 1970):— ProFootballReference (@pfref) September 11, 2017
Eric Dickerson - 13
Edgerrin James - 12
Ezekiel Elliott - 12
6. Since when did TDub become a third down target?
Terrance Williams had a quiet preseason, but Dak Prescott looked his way quite a bit against the Giants. All his catches came in the first half as he had six receptions for 68 yards. What was more surprising is how Dak kept looking his way on third down. That is usually where Prescott seeks out Jason Witten or Cole Beasley, but Williams showed he can come through as well.
There was some creative play calling too, particularly a bubble screen to Williams on third down. He had a convoy of blockers for the first down, led by Tyron Smith.
Apple wanted no part of that tackle...lol— B✭Schlerf (@YumaCactus) September 11, 2017
7. Honoring Witten
Let’s pause for a moment to recognize a true Cowboys great.
With that last catch, Jason Witten became the Cowboys' all-time receiving yards leader by passing Michael Irvin.— Brandon George (@DMN_George) September 11, 2017
Jason Witten would finish the game with seven catches for 59 yards and the teams only touchdown. It was just another day at the office for the Cowboys all-time receiving yards leader.
8. Clear eye strip
Although it will get swept under the rug because of a whistle happy referee, the hit/fumble by Jaylon Smith was a great play. It should have resulted in a turnover for the defense that would have given the Cowboys the ball deep in Giants territory.
Smith would finish with seven tackles, one shy of the team lead (Sean Lee had eight). It was estimated that he would share reps with Justin Durant, but it sure looked like 54 was out there quite a bit.
9. That saucy catch
Leave it to Cole Beasley to make some odd ball, behind-the-helmet catch that will inevitably be the talk of the town for the next few days. And rightfully so, it was a ridiculous catch. See for yourself...
10. Brown’s got Eli’s number
Anthony Brown now has two interceptions in his young career and they’ve both came against Eli Manning. They’ve also came when Brown made a good read and jumped the route.
Not just a pick by Anthony Brown, but a pick in which he made a fantastic play on the ball. That's what Dallas has been missing.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) September 11, 2017
It was a great interception, but also credit Brown’s strength to not allow the Giants receiver to take the ball away from him. His ball-hawking tendencies from Purdue seem to be translating nicely to the NFL.
It was a great performance for the secondary as a whole as the all the corners were keeping their players in check. Brandon Marshall, who the Giants brought over in free agency only had one catch for 10 yards, and that came near the end of the game in garbage time. It’s way early to tell, but the new-look secondary had a strong debut.
Where you impressed with the Cowboys performance on Sunday night? What things stood out to you?