The Dallas Cowboys continued their dominance over the New York Giants with a 23-16 win on Monday night. It was the tenth time they have beaten the Giants over their last eleven games against each other. The Cowboys ended the Giants bid for a perfect season and are now tied with them at 2-1, one game behind the Philadelphia Eagles.
It was a little nerve-wracking at first when the offense couldn’t find the end zone, but the defense kept the pressure on, and the offense finally got their act together. Here are ten thoughts on the Cowboys' big Monday night road win.
1. In Rush we trust
We can’t say enough about the job backup quarterback Cooper Rush has done since coming in and replacing the injured Dak Prescott. Despite what the media tries to drum up, there will be no quarterback controversy in Dallas, but there is a level of comfort growing within Cowboys fans as Rush is proving himself to be a competent backup.
It would’ve been really easy to get rattled after the Cowboys fell behind when Saquon Barkley scampered off for a 36-yard touchdown to put the Giants up 13-6 in the third qu arter. But Rush just calmly led the Cowboys offense down the field for not one, but two touchdown-scoring drives. That is what he does. The team’s undrafted backup has now orchestrated fourth-quarter, game-winning drives in each of his first three NFL starts, something no other quarterback has done since the 1970 NFL merger.
2. A tale of two Lambs
The first half was an absolute disaster for third-year receiver CeeDee Lamb. The team’s new no. 1 wideout was relatively quiet, which shouldn’t have been the case as he missed out on a huge play. Late in the first half, Rush threw a perfect strike deep downfield to Lamb, but unfortunately, the ball went right through his hands. Had Lamb made the catch, there’s a good chance the Cowboys score a touchdown there if Lamb himself doesn’t run it in, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Lamb would make up for it with some big catches in the second half and finished with eight catches for 87 yards. His one-handed touchdown grab at the goal line was reminiscent of the highlight-making player we once knew. Could this be the start of something more to come?
3. Go for it!
It wouldn’t be a Cowboys game if Mike McCarthy didn’t puzzle us with his decisions. Why he chose to call a timeout and allow the Giants a chance to convert a fourth down and get into field goal range was weird, but oh well, no harm, no foul.
But his decision to go for it on 4th-and-4 just inside Giants territory in the fourth quarter of a tied game was gutsy. One might think that with the defense playing so well and rolling with a backup quarterback, pinning the Giants deep in their own territory with a punt might be the way to go, but nope, McCarthy had other plans. The Cowboys converted the fourth down when Rush found Lamb for a bang-bang play that was just long enough to get the first down. The Cowboys proceeded to drive down the field and score the go-ahead touchdown.
4. Under pressure
The Cowboys spent the entire night chasing after Giants quarterback Daniel Jones. Sometimes, he managed to escape and turn in a nice run. In fact, Jones finished with 79 rushing yards, two less than Barkley. But when Jones wasn’t running for first downs, he was running for his life from the Cowboys' defense.
Dallas sacked the Giants quarterback five times on the night, but he was under duress the entire night. The Cowboys pressured Jones a total of 24 times in this game and were coming after him at all angles. Make no mistake about it, this defensive front is legit.
Biggest reason the Giants lost their 7th straight Monday Night Football game: the Cowboys defense generated its most QB pressures since 2017.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 27, 2022
Daniel Jones was pressured a total of 24 times Monday night, the most by a QB this season, and the 2nd-most over the past two seasons.
5. I’ll take Dorance for the block
There were a lot of defenders contributing to the cause on Monday Night. Donovan Wilson was all over the place. DeMarcus Lawrence had three sacks to go along with six solo tackles. And Dorance Armstrong got in on the action with his second straight game with a sack. In fact, Armstrong now has six sacks in his last seven games dating back to last season.
As well as he has played on the edge, he’s also come up big through the middle when blocking kicks. Last year, Armstong blocked a punt that resulted in a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons, and against the Giants last night he blocked a field goal. Armstrong has been a nice piece to the Cowboys' special teams as those long arms have come in handy.
6. Self-inflicted wounds
If the Cowboys had come up short in this one, we’d probably be talking about how the team kept shooting themselves in the foot with stupid penalties. Whether it was offensive line miscues that put them behind the chains or defensive mental lapses that gave the Giants a fresh set of downs, the Cowboys' penalties can get outright stupid sometimes.
The Cowboys now have 23 penalties enforced against them this season, good for fourth-most in the NFL.
7. The two no-ah calls
The Cowboys only have themselves to blame for bringing out the laundry, but they sure don’t get any help from the referees when their opponents are committing the penalties. Twice the Giants caught a break when they weren’t flagged for blatant holds on receiver Noah Brown. The first time likely cost the Cowboys some points.
Defensive holding?— Joey Hayden (@_joeyhayden) September 27, 2022
NFL says neither. Apparently. pic.twitter.com/DCb1FruD96
And the second one could’ve iced the game if Brown had a free shot towards the end zone.
Can’t believe the refs missed this defensive holding on Noah Brown pic.twitter.com/0MfpCoBLfh— (@F1avss) September 27, 2022
There are ticky-tacky calls and there are obvious ones, and these two were the latter.
8. A little extra pop
The Cowboys have promised to get Tony Pollard more involved in the offense for what seems like years, but they always end up disappointing fans when he takes the backseat to Ezekiel Elliott. And through the first two games, the carry distribution was 25 to 15 in favor of Zeke.
But on Monday night, the love was spread around a little more evenly as 15 carries went to Elliott and 13 went to Pollard. This more balanced attack produced dividends as the Cowboys churned out 176 rushing yards against the Giants, just two less than what they rushed for in the first two games combined. Pollard just shows more pop hitting those lanes and good things happen when he’s more involved. The Cowboys are now a perfect 12-0 whenever Pollard has more than 10 carries in a game. Just give him the ball more.
9. Kudos to Kellen
Whenever the Cowboys offense struggles, the young offensive coordinator is the first one to get criticized as he doesn’t always seem to have the right answers to make the offense work. So, when they look good, we got to give him his props, right?
The Cowboys offense was without their starting quarterback, starting left tackle, starting WR2, and starting tight end, and yet still somehow manage to churn out almost 400 yards of offense with the likes of Noah Brown, Jake Ferguson, and Peyton Hendershot. And it could’ve been even more had a couple of deep passes not slipped through the hands of the receivers.
10. Peters’ debut
The mystery of what the Cowboys were going to do with Jason Peters was temporarily solved when he made his season debut at left guard early in the second quarter. And would you believe on the very first play, he sent the linebacker to the turf opening a huge hole for Pollard?
The Cowboys managed his reps so we saw a mixture of both him and Matt Farniok at left guard. It’s unclear what the future holds as Connor McGovern is expected back soon, but the offensive line continues to play better with each new game.