NBC was probably not all that happy with this game, as not many outside of diehard Dallas Cowboys fans likely stayed around to watch this 40-0 obliteration of the New York Giants. It was absolutely one-sided, but for those who questioned if this year’s Dallas team is for real, it may have been something of a eye-opener. The defense is back, the special teams lived up to their name, and while the offense was not as stellar in some ugly weather conditions, it helped put plenty of points on the board.
This game may have been over by the end of the first quarter. That was how in control of the game the Cowboys were from the very beginning. But it wasn’t like they faced no adversity. The Cowboys came into the game with a problem up front, as LG Tyler Smith was ruled out with the hamstring injury he suffered earlier in the week. That led to the team calling on Chuma Edoga to fill in, with UDFA rookie T.J. Bass as his backup. And weather was a factor as well, as it was raining, at times heavily, at MetLife Stadium. That added a further complication for the debut of the new Texas Coast offense under Mike McCarthy.
But it would be the Dallas defense that would be up first. And things did not look good as the Giants ran through the Cowboys almost at will. Saquon Barkley looked good, but it was Daniel Jones who was the one making the most yards with his legs. He accounted for 27 yards on a drive that went all the way down to the Dallas eight. Then things rapidly went downhill for New York. First they had a false start, prompted by fear of Micah Parsons, a bad snap led to a big loss. Then John Fassel’s special teams came through big as Juanyeh Thomas streaked in to block the kick, an Noah Igbinoghene scooped it up for a 58-yard touchdown. It was a great turn for the Cowboys, although it was marred by Brandon Aubrey missing his first NFL extra point attempt.
On their second possession, the Giants tried to go to the air after only attempting one pass in their first drive. Dante Fowler got a hand on the ball to stop the first attempt, Thomas broke up an attempt to Darren Waller, and Parsons blew through the protection to drop Jones for his first sack of the season.
After the punt, it looked like the Cowboys would march right down the field, with the highlight of the drive a 49-yard catch and run by CeeDee Lamb. But things would stall with Dak Prescott getting swarmed on third goal from the 2. Aubrey would knock in the 21-yard chip shot to make it 9-0.
Things were not going so well for the Giants, and they got rapidly worse. A DeMarcus Lawrence sack and more pressure set up a third and 19 deep in their own end, and then Trevon Diggs came hard to separate Barkley from the ball on a short reception, and DaRon Bland plucked it from the air for a quick six. It was suddenly 16-0 with 2:22 left in the first quarter.
Dan Quinn’s troops were still feeling it, with Markquese Bell tackling Jones for a loss on third down to get the ball back for the offense. This was only the second possession for the offense, with the quarter changing after the first snap, a loss by Tony Pollard.
Two plays into the second quarter, Brandin Cooks used his speed and veteran savvy to get down the field and draw a pass interference call that set the Cowboys up at the Giants 45. If there was a concern for the offense to this point, it was lack of success on first and second down. Facing a fourth and three, Cooks had his first reception wearing the Star to move the sticks as McCarthy’s aggressiveness was rewarded. Then Rico Dowdle had his first carry for ten yards. But two plays later, they were facing a third and 8. Jake Ferguson would drop the pass to bring Aubrey back out. He would hit the 38-yard kick to push the score to 19-0.
Jones would try to evade pressure from Parsons and made a huge mistake, finding another new Cowboys player, Stephon Gilmore, with the ball. The interception plucked just inches above the turf set the offense up at the NY 38. Cooks would get a 16-yard catch, and Turpin would run for six. Prescott would miss Lamb, but illegal contact gave them a first down at the 11. Dak would keep it to the five and Pollard would get it almost to the one, then he would score on the next play. Dallas now led 26-0 with 8:03 still left to play in the first half.
The Giants would finally get another drive going as the half ran down, but a Dorance Armstrong sack, the third of the night for the Dallas defense, would force them to send Graham Gano out for another field goal attempt, and he would miss to the left.
That gave the ball back to the Cowboys on their own 26 with 1:05 left until halftime and a chance to work on their two-minute offense. A long pass to Michael Gallup would see him land out of bounds and the pass rush forced a second incomplete pass. McCarthy would elect to run it on third down, and punt the ball back to New York. There would be a Hunter Luepke sighting on special teams as he would make a sure tackle on the return.
Statistically, it was not an impressive first half for the offense, with only 132 yards of total offense, but the defense was awesome. Osa Odighizuwa got the fourth sack of the evening to help shut down the Giant’s final drive before intermission and they only allowed a net of 12 yards passing. New York did amass 69 yards rushing, but they held Barkley to 33, with Jones getting 30, mostly on scrambles. And outside of Aubrey’s misses extra point, the special teams were also very, very good. And as noted on the NBC broadcast, it was the first time since 2009 a team had touchdowns from their offense, defense, and special teams in the first half.
The Cowboys came out strong in the second half after receiving the kickoff. Prescott threw a seeing-eye pass to Lamb to convert a third down, and Pollard broke free for a 25-yard pickup. Disaster almost struck when Pollard fumbled the ball inside the 10, but Tyler Biadasz was there to recover and set up first and goal from the five. Two plays later, Pollard would get his second touchdown of the night and the score would go to 33-0 with ten minutes left in the third quarter.
The rain would be coming down hard when the Giants received the ensuing kickoff, making their hopes of coming back even more remote. That may have been a factor in a Jones fumble. New York would overcome that and a Parsons tackle for a loss with a fourth-down conversion deep in their own end of the field. Odighizuwa would get his second sack of the night, the fifth for the team, Armstrong would make the sixth sack a couple of plays later, also his second, and this time Brian Daboll did not elect to go for it on fourth and 15.
Dallas would start moving down the field, but one of the worst possible things happened as Edoga was hurt. It was reported that he was poked in the eye, which hopefully won’t keep him out long. As expected, Bass came in to replace him. Edoga later returned. But the Cowboys would not convert a third and ten, and would punt the ball back.
The Giants would turn the ball back over on downs as the third quarter ended, with Stephon Gilmore breaking up a couple of passes. With another short field, it didn’t take long Dallas to drive through a tiring and probably demoralized defense to inside the 10, and Turpin would get his first rushing touchdown as a Cowboy to get to the coveted 40-burger.
Meanwhile, things kept getting worse for the G-men, as Trevon Diggs forced a fumble by Isaiah Hodgins that Israel Mukuamu jumped on.
At this point, Prescott turned the reins over to Cooper Rush, and we also saw the first action by Deuce Vaughn. There was also an Aaiden Diggs sighting, as his father handed him the fumble he just caused.
The rest was just running out the clock for the Cowboys, although Chauncey Golston did add a seventh sack, one he had to do twice as the first was wiped out by a flag. There are things to work on, but so very, very much about this game can only build confidence in this year’s edition of the team.