After the ranting and raving concerning last week’s loss to the Panthers, the Cowboys couldn’t afford to fall 0-2. They know all the stats that point to 0-2 being a hole that 89% of NFL teams don’t find a way out of. The offense, in particular, was under a lot of scrutiny whether it was quarterback play, offensive line play, play-calling, or just about anything else you can think of.
The Cowboys came into the division matchup with the Giants as the more determined team and left winners. So, what was different and how did the Cowboys handle business this time around?
A.) “Challenge Accepted” Back them off by going deep
The Cowboys got speed involved early on offense and it carried them over for the rest of the game. When you think of speed, Tavon Austin is the guy that comes to mind:
SUPER BOWL HERE WE COME pic.twitter.com/QLYrfXtzL4— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) September 17, 2018
The offense needed a shot in the arm of explosiveness and when you can connect on a deep ball like that, it makes the defense have to account for it.
94 all-purpose yards and a touchdown for Tavon Austin, on six touches.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) September 17, 2018
I don’t think the guy needs 20 touches. But I’m thinking 10-12 sounds like a sweet spot #cowboyswire
Dak Prescott would go deep twice more in this game, though they didn’t connect, it effectively helped them shake loose of the Giants defense. Still, Michael Gallup has to catch this one:
This was a DIME by Dak Prescott. Michael Gallup has to catch this. pic.twitter.com/rweYXbri0p— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) September 17, 2018
The Cowboys took some shots in this game which is what the offense needed and it sparked the team. It did get tougher for them after that, they only scored three more points for the half but that’s when the defense took over.
B.) Getting Dak Prescott on the move, grinding down the opponent with Ezekiel Elliott
There was definitely a lull in the offensive action or the score would have been much higher for the Cowboys. However, we got to witness the Cowboys offensive coaches use the strengths of the team’s talents. It was a reversion to the method that was so successful for Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in their rookie seasons. It started with letting Dak trust his instinct to run and take advantage of extra attention Elliott was getting. Here’s his first zone read run:
Here’s Dak’s second zone read keeper, where he fakes the defense out well and Deonte Thompson seals off his man:
Dak Prescott's 2nd zone read keep. Great block by Deonte Thompson on the weakside LB. pic.twitter.com/8hsvSV79jN— John Owning (@JohnOwning) September 17, 2018
These types of runs by Dak Prescott are critical to the offense’s success. The Cowboys want a healthy balance of knowing when to allow it to happen. They don’t want Dak getting hurt but he’s built to get things done with his feet in addition to his arm. The biggest threats the Cowboys have are Ezekiel Elliott, Tavon Austin, and Dak Prescott. All three were featured last night and all three made huge plays that was the difference in a win or loss.
#Cowboys had six explosive plays in Week 2:— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) September 17, 2018
Tavon Austin - 2
Ezekiel Elliott - 2
Dak Prescott - 2
The best part of the entire night was the Cowboys first drive of the fourth quarter. It showed the true strength of their offense because it completely sealed the deal for the win. It was a 14-play drive that traveled 82-yards and took 8:23 off the clock. The drive featured passes to Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin. It also had keeper’s by Dak and runs from Ezekiel Elliott, but the important factor was that it ended with seven points. It was the Cowboys doing what they do best, controlling the tempo, and killing the clock.
“It really brought me back to my rookie year. We’re going to be physical from Play One to Play 80 and I think it showed in that drive.”— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) September 17, 2018
The #DallasCowboys sealed Sunday’s win with a 2016-like TD drive from @EzekielElliott.
Then, there’s this bad boy. To put the game away, Dak goes 5-6 for 34 yards and the Cowboys run for 48 yards as a team on a 14-play touchdown drive. Dak throws for a crucial third down conversion and runs for another on fourth. An encouraging flashback to 2016 #cowboyswire pic.twitter.com/15JVrojr63— David Helman (@HelmanDC) September 17, 2018
C.) Sacking Eli Manning into his next internet meme
The Cowboys defense is the strength of this team and it sounds so weird to say for a team that has been so offensively dominant in the recent past. Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard knew that this Giants offensive line could not handle the pressure they schemed up. What ensued was a new classic “Eli” photo for the ages:
Watching the Giants offense like pic.twitter.com/AGzklB9eiF— Yahoo Fantasy Sports (@YahooFantasy) September 17, 2018
The Giants spent money on bringing in Nate Solder at left tackle, they drafted Will Hernandez, but nothing they could do would stop the “Hot Boyz”. Taco Charlton’s path on the first sack was easy as pie after the Cowboys sent the linebackers on a blitz. Taco just ran right past the line, untouched:
Here is Taco Charlton's sack: pic.twitter.com/OUZKmjnQZn— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) September 17, 2018
That’s just one of six sacks the Cowboys put on Eli Manning. Six different Cowboys players sacked Eli Manning. Richard and Marinelli dialed up blitzes with their linebackers and safeties, it proved to be too much for that overmatched offensive line in New York.
DE Taco Charlton, DT Tyrone Crawford, S Kavon Frazier, DE DeMarcus Lawrence, LB Damien Wilson and DT Antwaun Woods recorded sacks of NYG QB Eli Manning. First time, since Nov. 9, 1997 that six individual players recorded at least one sack in a game. pic.twitter.com/0aVdrKye5e— @wfaajflo (@WFAAJFlo) September 17, 2018
The Giants had four drives in the first half and the Cowboys got Manning down on three of those drives and held them to no points. Folks like to pick on the Cowboys offense but the Giants offense has a far worse trend:
Assuming they don't top 20 points tonight, the Giants offense will have scored fewer than 20 points in 10 of their last 12 games. That's just remarkable. And bad. Really bad.— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) September 17, 2018
It’s pretty alarming for New York because on paper, they have explosive players, but games like this last one will have everyone second-guessing:
Most of the Giant offense came after the game was over. They couldn’t run it, couldn’t protect their QB, couldn’t get to the opposing QB. Right now they aren’t competitive.— Mike Francesa (@MikeFrancesa) September 17, 2018
That decision to load up on offensive talent around Eli Manning looms large for a lot of people that follow and cover the New York Giants. Saquon Barkley is a talented player but the Giants will forever be linked to the quarterbacks they never took:
It is not hindsight draft analysis to say the Giants should have selected a QB at No. 2 overall.— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) September 17, 2018
It was true in February, March, April, and now in September.
QB: $21 million/year— Joe Fortenbaugh (@JoeFortenbaugh) September 17, 2018
WR: $18 million/year
OT: $15.5 million/year
RB: Second pick in 2018 draft
Overall offense: 15 points through nearly 6 quarters of football.
The Giants are a poorly assembled football team.
This game had lots of moments but there is nothing that stands out further than watching Eli Manning get battered and bruised for four quarters. Protection was clearly the biggest issue for the Giants.
Here is Demarcus Lawrence's sack on Eli Manning: pic.twitter.com/kau4GLCe2e— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) September 17, 2018
If the Cowboys weren’t sacking Eli Manning, they would have plays like this one where Manning had to have regretted the decision to take off.
When you look around the league where offensive line protection is at a premium, these “Hot Boyz” are the real deal. The way the Cowboys defense played this game was one for the ages. Everyone will remember where they were when they watched the Cowboys defense throw a Sack-Fest. In a passing league, the Cowboys finally have the guys that quarterback’s have nightmares over.