The Dallas Cowboys once again battled hard and ended up with another victory, and in this case, it was against a then 2-0 New York Giants squad. Just like last week, the Cowboys did just enough to pull out a much needed win, this time against a divisional foe. There were some positives, as well as some negatives, but in the end, a win is a win. Each of the three facets of the game did their job enough to push the Cowboys record to 2-1, which to some, after Dak Prescott’s injury, may have come as a surprise. Let’s take a dive into those three facets and give them each a grade for week three.
The offense once again did enough and scored enough points to win
Let’s start with the offensive unit who lost their franchise quarterback, Dak Prescott, before the conclusion of week one. Without Prescott, Cooper Rush once again performed admirably by completing 21 of 31 passes, just under 68%. The passing yardage total of 215 isn’t going to blow anyone away, but he made an improvement in one particular area as opposed to last week, and that is decision-making. Rush was much more sound fundamentally and delivered a very catchable ball for the majority of the game. He added a touchdown to his tally as well.
The running game is an area of much debate, especially after week three. To be quite frank, Tony Pollard outperformed Ezekiel Elliott. Pollard, aside from the 46-yard gainer, averaged over 4.5 a tote. Elliott, aside from his long rush of 27 on the evening, totaled just under 3.3 yards a carry. The numbers do not lie, Pollard at this point should be the 1A and Zeke should be the 1B. The usage totals of 15 carries for Elliott and 13 carries for Pollard suggest that a running back by committee approach is in full swing which is quite beneficial for the health and freshness of both players as we get deeper into the 2022 season.
The receiving unit was par for the course and did enough to help put points on the board. CeeDee Lamb and Noah Brown both performed well. Lamb made a spectacular catch for a touchdown, and Brown showed some juice that reminded a little bit of Dez Bryant. Once Gallup is back, this trio is very formidable. The rookie tight ends, Peyton Hendershot and Jake Ferguson, played solid. Hendershot, especially in the receiving game, performed better than Ferguson as he caught a 29-yard pass which was the longest in the game from both sides.
Moving to the negative side of things, was the offensive line situation. Was Cooper Rush sacked last night? No. But the shuffling in of Matt Farniok and Jason Peters at left guard was a bit frustrating as Peters, right out the gate, looked great and sprung Pollard for his longest rush in the game. Hopefully Peters will get the nod at starting left guard next week. Having Peters at left guard instead of his normal position of left tackle, shows promise in rookie Tyler Smith. By the time the game had ended, the Cowboys once again played well enough to win. I
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones was under serious duress all game, which was caused by another great defensive performance by the Cowboys defense
Moving over to the defensive side of the ball, once again the defense was as good as advertised. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones was running for his life out there as he was pressured 23 times which is the most in game for a Giants quarterback since the pressure statistic became official in 2009. It also was the most pressures on a quarterback thus far in 2022. In addition to those pressures, the Cowboys ferocious defense sacked Jones five times. If it wasn’t for Jones’ mobility, that number could almost certainly been doubled.
Of those five sacks on Jones, three were credited to DeMarcus Lawrence. Tank looked like his elite self, and if it weren’t for a brief time on the sideline dealing with an injury, with the way he was playing that number surely would’ve ended up higher than three.
Dorance Armstrong once again played well as he officially recorded one sack, which would’ve been two if not for a penalty. Micah Parsons looked like he normally does which is, you know, unicornish. Although he did not record a sack in week three, his presence was felt by quarterback Daniel Jones.
The secondary for Dallas performed solid as well, which is to be expected given the amount of pressure Jones was under all night long. No wide out tallied more than 49 yards receiving, and by the games end, Trevon Diggs did what he is accustomed to which is get an interception. Diggs almost had two in the game but it went through his hands. To be very nit-picky, the one aspect of the defense that was frustrating at times was how often Daniel Jones escaped the pressure and made positive plays on the run. He tallied 79 yards on nine carries.
The special teams group has been continually steady thus far in the season
Last, but certainly not least, we have the special teams unit. KaVontae Turpin continues to show a lot of juice and is bound to break a big return off in the very near future. He almost returned one to the house Monday night if not for Giants punter Jamie Gillan stopping him as the last line of defense to the end zone.
Dorance Armstrong in addition to playing well on defense, blocked a Graham Gano field goal as well.
Bryan Anger was solid as two of his four punts ended up inside the 20.
Brett Maher performed well and made three of his four kicks. The lone miss was from 59 and wasn’t missed by much, and in typical Maher fashion, had plenty of room to spare. Missing a kick from that distance isn’t something to harp on as he’s made six out of seven and all of his PATs so far in 2022. Aside from the miss, the special teams unit has been steady all season and turned in another solid performance.