1. Second Half Offense: Officially, things moved a bit slow in the first half, though to be fair what derailed a lot of those drives wasn't always Dallas mistakes... but I'll come to that later. Anyway, after starting out "slow," the offense came alive with a monstrous second half and starting with the drive after the Giants got the touchdown to go up 13-6. We answered with a lengthy drive, capped by Zeke getting a TD and then had Lamb catch a TD pass a drive later. That was a lot of points and a lot of yards in the second half, and essentially decided the game.
2. Defending Saquon Barkley: This may seem like an odd thing to put in "the good category," given that he averaged over 5 yards a carry, had around 80 yards, and a TD. On the surface, a lot of that would not come off as "good," but I'd argue there is a lot of context here. For 39 of his yards came on one play in the third quarter, and that was the Giants lone TD of the game. And up to that point, he'd been held for AROUND 4 yards a rush, which would be something good and that for the most part he was being contained, and that a lot of what the defense needed to do. So... yes, the defense contained Saquon Barkley, and that is a good thing.
3. Steady Running Diet: Between Dak being hurt and our receiving corps limited, that's going to put a lot of pressure on our own running game and they more than answered it tonight. Pollard led the way with over 100 yards rushing on 13 carries and over 8 yards per carry, and Zeke wasn't all that far behind. He only had 73 yards but had nearly 5 yards per carry and had a touchdown. And while one could argue that their stats were helped along by single plays that covered a lot of ground, Dallas was also able to stay dedicated TOO the running game, which helped with the passing game as well.
4. Special Teams: This unit came to play... starting with a blocked field goal, a good kickoff return and a near punt return for a touchdown. To a great extent they were the biggest highlight reel for the team for much of the game.
5. Sacking Jones: This was the thing that our defense could do, particularly given the weaknesses on the Giants' offensive line, and while Parsons didn't get a sack, D-Lawrence got 3, Armstrong got 1, and Wilson got 1. That's five sacks right there, and the ESPN stat guys posted that the Giants had fewer sacks made by their defense than Parsons did through two games... they gave up more than that to the Cowboys as a team in one game. And that's not even counting the rest of the pressure that the Cowboys put on Jones that did affect his passes, and Parsons was a big part of that.
6. CD Lamb: He's here for redemption... he had a bad drop, and he wasn't the only one, but one-handed TD catch on the side of the endzone, that makes up for it.
1. Penalties: If one wants clean football... this game wasn't it. 8 penalties for 70 yards... THAT was ugly and created all the potential problems to derail the team. The offense was put behind the chains, and this particularly hurt in the first half as the offense moved the ball well and then got flagged when approaching the endzone. Defensive penalties granted the Giants new downs, and at times came off a 3rd down play where a pass was incomplete or something that would have gotten the defense off the field. That sort of thing actually helped the Giants along.
2. Rookies on the Road: This relates a bit to the prior point, and it's where some of the fears around guys like Tyler Smith came into play. For while Smith did block well for much of the game, he also picked up his fair share of the penalties, and he wasn't the only one. And some of the penalties that hurt the worst came from rookie players, and not just Smith. We had the one rookie TE flagged for holding and one rookie defensive player who hit Jones after he'd gone out of bounds. Now, a lot of this may have just been "nerves" at being on the road for the first time in an NFL environment, but it's also something that will have to be nipped in the bud pretty quick.
3. Drops: This was a big thing that also hit in this game, and wasn't limited to any one player. Lamb had a pass that hit him, practically in the hands, and would have been a massive gain had he caught it. In the third quarter, before the Giants scored their one TD of the game, Tolbert was largely open and set to at least get a first down... but had the ball just skirt off his fingertips. Had those passes been caught, perhaps we would have scored more points... we definitely would have kept drives alive and wouldn't have to worry about what might have been regarding those plays.
4. Containing Jones in the running game: The defense did a good job in getting to Jones and that did a lot to hamper the Giants passing attack, but at times the pass rush got a bit over-extended and that let Jones get a LOT of yards on the ground, and that was about the only area where the defense struggled in this game... and it let the Giants QB essentially be the leading rusher for his team.
5. The Refs: They may not want to be here, but they are... as they ultimately missed some things. Two were either defensive pass interference or defensive holding penalties, where the Giants did everything possible to prevent the Cowboys receiver... I'm pretty sure the first play the pass was for Noah Brown and he got tackled before the ball was thrown and then in the fourth quarter, he got held up again by the Giants defense on what should have been a penalty on the Giants... but it was not called. The best the refs could say in their defense is that they did give an offensive pass interference penalty against New York before the first half ended that took away a Giants' first down... but even there, that penalty looked questionable.
The Rush: His numbers may be a bit misleading... Someone may look at the yards Rush threw for and point them being pedestrian or complain about him only having one TD pass in this game, but a lot of that is where a lot of the things like the drops and penalties came back to hurt the offense. For the pass that Lamb dropped would have been a huge play and possibly would have provided a touchdown. Tolbert may not have had as big of a play, but had he not dropped the pass to him, that would have added a good chunk of yardage and kept the drive alive. And even with all of that, Rush completed nearly 68% of his passes... So, given that he's a backup QB and most of what hurt his stat line wasn't his fault, he had a pretty good day.