The Dallas Cowboys went into the Meadowlands and handled business. Even with the Giants taking the lead on the Saquon Barkley touchdown, the Cowboys found a way to win. Out of the previous 11 times these teams have played each other, Dallas has won 10 of them. The last loss was in 2020 with Andy Dalton at quarterback. It turns out Dallas had the wrong redheaded gun-slinger that day to get the job done.
We discussed these rankings and more on the latest episode of The Writer’s Block on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Make sure to subscribe to our network so you don’t miss any of our shows! Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
Cooper Rush continues to look poised as the starting quarterback, improving his record as a starter to 3-0. According to Next Gen Stats, Rush’s 67.7 completion percentage was better than Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, and Kyler Murray in Week 3. It’s okay if you need to reread the sentence because coming into 2022, it did not seem possible.
If Dallas keeps winning with the Gingerbread Man (a nickname bestowed by yours truly because his play has been so sweet) at the helm, his name will float around the top five of the power rankings until Dak Prescott returns. Here’s the rest of the roster power rankings after the Cowboys’ 23-16 victory over the Giants.
Honorable Mention: OG Jason Peters
Before Dallas left for New York, it came out that Peters would be signed from the practice squad and be active for Week 3. Would he be on the sidelines, or would he see some in-game action? Cowboys fans got the answer they have been looking for.
After the first drive with Matt Farniok at left guard, Peters came in on the next one and with an immediate impact. It looked like the former All-Pro set up the Giants linebacker to rush inside, which allowed Peters to turn back inside and part the red sea for a long Tony Pollard run.
Peters played left guard for only 14 snaps, but it showed a noticeable difference when he was on the field as opposed to Farniok. He even mentioned after the game that he could have played the whole game if asked to, but it was really like a preseason game for him. The expectation is that Peters will get called up before the Commander’s game and see more playing time.
The offensive line combination of Smith, Peters, Biadasz, Martin, and Steele seems to be what the Cowboys will go with when Peters can play a complete game. When he starts to get more snaps, it’s only a matter of time before his name goes higher on the list.
10. Trevon Diggs, CB
Diggs had a few opportunities in the game at an interception, but he got his hands on one when the team needed it most. When New York receiver David Sills fell on the game’s final drive, Diggs used his athleticism to dive forward and close out the game.
While Diggs’ interception total for this season is not at the same pace as in 2021, he has become a more well-rounded cornerback. He has shown better instincts when tackling in the open field and is still getting pass deflections. Diggs had three against the Giants.
Just like CeeDee Lamb getting his first touchdown of the year, the hope is now that Diggs has No. 1 out the way, it will build confidence to get his hands on some more in the coming weeks.
9. Donovan Wilson, S
Wilson continues to play well in the absence of Jayron Kearse. He would have been higher on the list if it wasn’t for the silly penalty knocking the ball away from the referee. Outside of that, he finished the game with 11 tackles, a sack, two quarterback hits, one tackle for loss, and one pass deflection.
Dan Quinn mentioned that Wilson was a name for everyone to keep an eye on before the season. It looks like he is finally putting it all together in year four. Not only has Wilson provided depth at a position Dallas has struggled to find talent at for years, but he is also becoming a defensive unit leader.
When Daniel Jones started to get hot with running the ball, Quinn adjusted and had Wilson become a spy for the quarterback. The change led to Jones getting tackled outside the pocket and forcing an intentional grounding penalty. With another quarterback coming to town that can make a few mistakes outside the pocket, Wilson should be feeling himself heading into Week 4.
Gota work a little on that internal clock danny pic.twitter.com/FznIHjdtwT— PFT Commenter (@PFTCommenter) September 27, 2022
8. Micah Parsons, DE/LB
Parsons said it best about his play Monday night. “I live to play the game. Me at 60 is better than most people at 100. I just wanna play.” He visibly lost a step on defense while battling a cold or flu-like symptoms, but his presence was felt by everyone on the Giants’ offensive line and Daniel Jones.
Parsons may have finished with one tackle on the stat sheet, but he was dealing with constant double teams and knocking linemen off their feet. Parsons being on the field opened up more opportunities for Demarcus Lawrence and Dorance Armstrong to get home on sacks.
Fellow Blogging The Boys writer LP Cruz said it best on episode two of The Writer’s Block Podcast; Parsons is like gravity. He pulls other players toward him and makes everyone around him better. I’m sure all 31 other teams would be okay with having Parsons on their roster at 60 percent. Fortunately for the Cowboys, they will get the former All-Pro at his best against the Commanders.
7. Noah Brown, WR
If this list were about ranking in season surprises so far, Brown would be No. 1. He has been outstanding at a position that came into the year with more questions than answers.
Replacing Amari Cooper’s production as a Cowboys was a tall order for CeeDee Lamb to duplicate. So far this season, Cooper has 19 receptions for 219 yards and two touchdowns. Brown has 15 catches for 213 yards and one touchdown. Cooper is making $20 million, while Brown is making $1.2 million. There’s no way anyone saw this coming.
On the opening drive, Brown elevated himself to catch a similar pass to the one thrown to him in the endzone last week. His continued connection with Rush was on display again as the two connected for five catches for 54 yards. It’s just remarkable to watch him improve each week.
For someone who was on the outside looking in on many 53-man roster projections, he has carved out a reliable role in the Dallas offense.
6. Dorance Armstrong, DE
When Armstrong was drafted in 2018, former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was elated to get the chance to work with him. He said the team had him rated higher than where he was drafted, and Armstrong had dominant pass-rushing traits. Through four seasons, it looked like Marinelli was wrong. Not anymore.
Armstrong had another impactful game getting a sack and a crucial blocked field goal. He would have had one more sack if a Kelvin Joseph penalty didn’t negate it. For as good as a player he has been on defense, Armstrong continues to impact special teams.
Last season he had a blocked punt and now got his hands on a field goal attempt. By getting the block, Armstrong put the ball back in the hands of the Dallas offense and changed the outcome of the game.
5. Zack Martin, RG
Martin has always led by example, which has helped the development of the younger o-linemen. After the Bucs game in Week 1, he was the one that went up to Terence Steele and told him to shake off the in-game penalties and to trust in himself as a player. Whatever he said helped as Steele has improved since then.
Martin was thrust into being the oldest member on the line, and his leadership has shown up on the field. When Tyron Smith went down with his knee injury before the season, it put the offensive line as a whole in question. Could this unit ever get back to the dominance it had in 2014 and 2016?
Martin has helped quiet the uncertainty surrounding his teammates and continues to play at a high level. Not only is he calling out alignments on offense, but he has anchored a unit that’s only allowed one sack in two games with a backup quarterback. He played angry against the Giants and led the way for Dallas’ 176 yards of rush offense.
4. Cooper Rush, QB
Rush is the third quarterback in franchise history to win his first three career games as a starter. The other names on the list are Roger Staubach and Jason Garrett. Staubach wasn’t, but it might be a redhead thing with quarterbacks in Dallas and having success.
Whichever player in Daniel Jones and Rush made fewer mistakes would likely win the game for their team. Jones threw the interception to end the game, while Rush has yet to make a mistake that kills the Cowboys. Even with all the crowd noise coming from MetLife Stadium, nothing seemed to phase him when the moments were big.
With the game tied in the fourth quarter, Dallas decided to go for it on 4th & 4. Rush threw a bullet to Lamb right at the sticks for the first down. It was a huge moment, but the bigger play was what happened afterward. Rush hurried everyone to the line and got a play off before the Giants had a chance to challenge.
The call was unlikely to be overturned, but Rush had enough knowledge not to risk it. He continues to play brilliant football and buys Prescott more time to be at 100 percent without RUSH-ing back so soon.
Cooper Rush and Ceedee Lamb are FEELING IT RNpic.twitter.com/egLHlHQ6sX— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) September 27, 2022
3. Tony Pollard, RB
Pollard is finally becoming vital to the Cowboys’ offensive game plan. Not as a decoy, but as a player deserving of more touches. It’s now back-to-back weeks where Pollard has had an explosive play that went for 46 yards.
He finished the night with 13 carries for 108 yards and averaged eight yards per carry. That average is the third highest of his career, with a minimum of 10 rushing attempts in a game.
When the Cowboys needed to run out the clock in their final drive of the game, Pollard was the one who got the nod. On 2nd & 7, Moore dialed up a run play where Pollard ran up the middle for a first down. It took another 40 seconds off the clock away from the Giants, which they could have used to decrease the pressure of their final drive.
Kellen Moore reminder: Don’t use Pollard in pass protection anymore. No need to drop him off the list when this problem can be prevented.
This one is amazing. Tyler Smith and Jason Peters and the Giants just gave up 46 yards to Tony Pollard. pic.twitter.com/qHXuthUUUz— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) September 27, 2022
2. Ezekiel Elliott, RB
Both running backs could be 2a and 2b, but the edge goes to Elliott, who scored the touchdown. It wasn’t just any regular scoring play, but one Dallas desperately needed after the Giants took the lead after a Barkley rushing touchdown. The run also looked like vintage Zeke, who lowered his shoulder and bounced off the first defender to extend the ball over the goal line.
When Prescott went out with an ankle injury in 2020, Elliott was tasked with stepping up and leading the offense. He said that he welcomed the weight to be on his shoulders. Elliott could not do it on his own. He only had two games of over 100 yards after the Giants game that season.
This time around, with Prescott out, the pressure is on Cooper Rush to keep everything afloat, and Elliott has been in the background more. With the weight off the former Pro Bowl back’s shoulders, his running looks more confident, like how he used to run a few years ago.
The days of Elliott getting 20 carries a game are long gone. That’s okay if it keeps him healthy. He had a rush of 27 yards when the offense was backed up on their 21-yard line and converted a 3rd & 12. If Peters can be left guard for the rest of the season, Elliott’s run total should be better as the season moves along.
Ezekiel Elliott Touchdown FEED HIM— Barstool Ohio State (@BarstoolOSU) September 27, 2022
1. Demarcus Lawrence, DE
In June, Lawrence made sure it was public knowledge that Parsons would not just be crowned team leader in sacks without his say-so. Against the Giants and with Parsons fighting a cold, Lawrence reminded Cowboys nation how dominant he can be.
While Parsons was dealing with double teams, he was able to feast. Lawrence had three sacks, six tackles, and three quarterback hits. Even after Lawrence went out with what looked like a foot injury, he returned and continued to be in the backfield.
There were a few times Lawrence should have wrapped up Jones for two more sacks on what could have been a career night. That’s just being picky. The biggest concern for a player his age is health. Last season, Lawrence missed a significant portion of the year with a broken foot. When he exited the game, there was concern the injury bug bit the former All-Pro again. Luckily, it did not seem severe.
The success of Lawrence, Parsons and even Armstrong can lead to wins for the Cowboys this season. Dallas is looking to repeat what Quinn built for the defense last season. The friendly competition between Lawrence and Parsons has seemed to elevate their play this season. Whoever wins that competition will likely be the No. 1 player on the final total of this list by the season’s end.