This game was viewed as put-up or shut-up game for the Dallas Cowboys as early season struggles had many questioning just how good this team really is. In many ways, this was a must-win game as another underwhelming performance just wouldn’t sit well, especially at the hands of the win-less New York Giants. Fortunately for the Cowboys, they were able to pull out the win, but it came at a price. Here are ten thoughts on the Cowboys 37-34 win over the Giants.
1. That heartbreaking moment
It’s just such a sickening feeling to watch the team’s franchise quarterback go down with such a gruesome injury. Dak Prescott took a quarterback draw up the middle, and as he was stiff arming the defender, his ankle got caught underneath his tackler. Initially, it wasn’t clear what the injury was as Prescott just sat there calmly as if it was a cramp. But when we saw the ankle, it was clear that things were real bad.
Our hearts go out for Prescott and we hope he is able to make a full recovery for next season. As far as what this means for the Cowboys this season, it’s hard to say.
2. A new receiving leader in Dallas
Rookie CeeDee Lamb is having a great season. Coming in to this game he had 21 catches for 309 yards with two touchdowns. He trailed Amari Cooper by 92 yards, which is not bad considering how great Cooper has been through the first four games of the season.
Well, Lamb is now the team’s leading receiver in terms of yards after he hauled in eight catches for 124 yards. What is really surprising is that Lamb had 11 targets, which is more than Amari (4) and Michael Gallup (4) had combined. Is it possible that Lamb is emerging as the team’s top receiver? Then again, most of passing success came when Prescott was the quarterback, so it’s tough to say exactly who Andy Dalton’s favorite target is going to be. Regardless, Lamb continues to show that he has superstar ability, and it’s just a matter of time before everyone knows it.
3. Good games from Tank and Jaylon
It hasn’t been a very good year for a couple of the team’s highest profiled defensive stars, DeMarcus Lawrence and Jaylon Smith. Both have been heavily criticized for their play so far.
These guys came to play on Sunday, as they were making big stops on defense. Smith finished with 14 total tackles, including three of them for a loss. He also was credited with half a sack. And while Tank didn’t light up the stat sheet, his sack/strip/fumble of Daniel Jones in the second quarter resulted in the team’s first defensive touchdown since 2018. When Anthony Brown scooped up the Jones fumble, he returned it 29 yards for a touchdown that tied the game at 17.
4. Saved by the flag
The Cowboys caught a nice break when former swing tackle Cameron Fleming was flagged for illegal shift that negated a 27-yard touchdown. The Giants were lining up for a field goal, when tight end Evan Engram covertly acted as if he was coming off the field. No Cowboys player had any clue he was there, which made him wide open when the Giants punter, Riley Dixon, threw him the ball. Ultimately, it didn’t end up hurting the Cowboys, but rest assured their special teams are floundering.
5. Boise State Special
Before Prescott’s season was cut short, we got to see him do something he’s never done before - catch a touchdown pass. It’s a play we’ve seen before, but not by the Cowboys. Former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore pulled out some nice trickery on a reverse to former Boise State wide receiver Cedrick Wilson. But the fun didn’t stop there. Wilson, who was a high school quarterback, put the ball right on the money to Prescott to give the Cowboys their first lead of the game.
6. Don’t forget about that timeout!
This one will quietly be swept under the rug, but we cannot stress enough the importance of a Cowboys timeout late in the first half. When it looked like Dallas might get a stop to hold the Giants to a field goal, the Cowboys wisely called a timeout to save some time for a drive of their own. It turned out to be huge as it allowed the Cowboys time to drive 75 yards on six plays to go up 24-20 before the half.
Head coach Mike McCarthy has received a lot of heat because of the team’s lack of success, but he deserves credit here. In the past, the Cowboys have been perfectly content with just letting the clock run out as they haven’t even attempted to try to get anything with that last minute of the half. That wasn’t the case against the Giants, and look at how it turned out.
7. That other injury
Just when something good starts happening, something really bad happens. Before we were all floored from the Prescott injury, the Cowboys suffered another loss as Trysten Hill was carted off the field with a knee injury. Hill was injured when he was trying to prevent himself from coming down hard on the Giants quarterback. It’s unclear just how serious his injury is, but it didn’t look good.
The Cowboys are already without defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, and losing Hill would just further deplete their depth in the interior defensive line. And it’s just bad luck that Hill would go down after a really promising start to the season.
8. Zeke & Pollard
The Cowboys have been a passing team this year. Entering this week, they led the league with 1,631 passing yards, whereas their 407 rushing yards is ranked 22nd in the league. That’s not really how the Cowboys have operated in the past, but the passing game has been really sizzling this season.
The offense went back with the ground attack as they had nearly just as many runs (29) as they did passing attempts (33). They relied on a good mixture of Ezekiel Elliott, who rushed for 4.8 yards per carry and scored twice. Combined with Tony Pollard, who rushed for 5.0 yards per carry, this duo kept the offense on track after Prescott went down. It’s going to be important to utilize these guys effectively going forward to help take some pressure off their new quarterback.
9. The Dalton Drive
It felt hopeless getting the ball back on the 16-yard line with just 52 seconds to go. With Prescott under center, it’s a completely different feeling. But with the game in the hands of backup quarterback Andy Dalton, it just seemed like a lot to ask. He already had an bad exchange with rookie center Tyler Biadasz as well as a near pick-six, so things weren’t going all that well. Could he really lead the game-winning drive?
Well, as it turned out, he could. Dalton led a drive that went 72 yards on five plays, including a couple strikes to Michael Gallup, which brings us to...
10. Gallup’ing to victory
He was essentially invisible all game, but boy did he show up at the right moment. On the Cowboys final drive, Gallup made two great sideline catches, the first one for 19 yards, and the second one for 38 yards. Both plays required the officials to take a look to make sure he got both feet in bounds, and each time it was confirmed that he made the catch.
Gallup only had four targets the entire game, but he made them count, catching all four for 73 total yards. That’s some clutch play by Gallup.