The Dallas Cowboys smoked the New York Giants by 32 points on Sunday to reach 6-3 on the year. Such a thing should have us fans feeling pretty good, but the Giants were a train-wreck so it’s easy to file this win into the “Cowboys can only beat bad teams” folder, but is that really fair? Should we be feeling good about this victory?
There are certainly reasons to temper our expectations, but overall, this was a strong performance from this Cowboys team. And considering this is touted as a defensive-led football team, it was enjoyable to see the offense turn out seven touchdowns. The offense was firing on all cylinders, and it was an especially strong performance from the Cowboys quarterback. Here are some things were can learn after re-watching the game film.
DAK WAS COMFORTABLE
Dak Prescott played his best game of the season on Sunday. After averaging just 212 passing yards over his first five games, Dak’s numbers have increased each and every week since that time, culminating in a 404-yard performance on Sunday.
There were a lot of things working in his favor in this one. The protection was a lot better as Prescott was rarely under duress and was never sacked in this game. That is refreshing considering he’s been sacked five times in two of the last three games. The Cowboys also employed a “pass first” mentality and fired away in all directions. Prescott wasted no time taking deep shots and it forced the Giants secondary to lay back a little to prevent the big play. This allowed Prescott to use the entire field to operate. He’s never looked more comfortable throwing the ball than he did in this game against the Giants.
The Cowboys took a lot of deep shots in this one and that caused the corners to lay off a bit and give up some cushion. Dak Prescott punished them for it and capitalized on a lot of easy stuff. pic.twitter.com/mkwHJXd2py— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) November 14, 2023
DAK WAS ROLLING
A few weeks ago, Prescott was breaking the pocket so frequently that it was almost a regular thing. This was due to poor protection where Dak was forced to improvise. Over the last few weeks, Prescott’s mobility has become a part of the game plan as the team has drawn up some nice plays to afford him more time to get rid of the ball. The protection was much better in this one, so the need wasn’t there, but that didn’t stop them from continuing to employ these nicely designed rollouts and it suits Dak quite well.
Dak Prescott continued to throw the ball well on the run. At first, it might've been out of necessity, but now they got something here. pic.twitter.com/aR5i1X18Wd— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) November 14, 2023
DAK WAS SUPER ACCURATE
We can talk about how the Cowboys game-planned to make things easy for their quarterback, and they did. The play-calling was fantastic and Prescott had some very nice options. However, the most impressive thing about the Cowboys' offensive performance was just how incredibly accurate Prescott was. He threaded the needle and threw the ball in stride to allow the receivers to have big gains after the catch. His ball placement was elite level and it was quite impressive to see how dialed in he was in this game.
While Dak Prescott had a lot of easy stuff, he was absolutely on the money with so many of his throws. Many of his pass attempts were against tight coverage but they were completed because he had elite-level accuracy in this game. pic.twitter.com/c9kCVC012Q— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) November 14, 2023
RUNNING GAME FINALLY GOT GOING
The Cowboys rushing attack has plagued them all season as they haven’t been able to gain any traction for several weeks. They have fought tooth and nail to supplement rushing yards by involving their receivers on jet sweeps and end-arounds, but it’s been hard to get anything going from their running backs. In fact, the combination of Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle hadn’t eclipsed 75 yards since Week 3. That’s awful.
On Sunday, they were singing a different tune as the Pollard/Dowdle duo combined for 134 yards on the ground. With a more aggressive dose of the passing game (especially on first down), the Giants' defense wasn’t able to load the box. The Cowboys' offensive line did a much better job blocking as they were able to climb to the second level and seal off would-be tacklers. It was nice to finally see the running backs get somewhat of a running start before having to evade defenders. This allowed them to burst through arm tackles, maintain their balance, and turn shorter gains into longer ones. This was also the first time Dowdle finished with double-digit touches in a game and he was quite effective. Hopefully, this is something the Cowboys will build off of and get Dowdle more involved going forward.
The running game looked a lot better on Sunday thanks to some tough runs by Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle. Of course, it helps when their blockers can climb to the second level and give their backs a running start before they are even touched. pic.twitter.com/UoUWCZovmB— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) November 14, 2023
GOOD PUSH IN THE MIDDLE
For a great majority of the game, the Giants’ offense couldn’t do anything in this game. They started the game backed up deep in their own territory and struggled to get out. A big reason for that was the stout play of nose tackle Johnathan Hankins. And when the Giants were first able to threaten to score after starting with a short field, they were stuffed on a fourth-and-short play, again thanks to Hankins.
The defense had their way against an ineffective Giants offense and many different players made plays. It was nice to get a good push in the middle, as the interior play was great with Hankins, Mazi Smith, and Neville Gallimore.