The Dallas Cowboys started the new season with a bang as they walloped the New York Giants 40-0 on Sunday night. This had all the makings of a tough divisional road game, but that feeling quickly went away as the Cowboys took control early. There were a lot of good things in this one, and here are 10 thoughts on this fantastic beginning.
1. Total domination by the defense
The Cowboys defense is no joke and we all knew they would be the wind beneath the sails. This unit is loaded across the board with a strong defensive line all the way to one of the deepest secondaries we’ve seen in some time. As good as they are, none of us could’ve predicted that they would put on such a prime-time display of excellence. The Giants never scored and they only compiled 171 total yards.
2. Down goes Jones
After the first drive, the Giants' offense could never get into any rhythm. The running game couldn’t get going and then it became a feeding frenzy for the Cowboys pass rushers. The defense sacked Daniel Jones seven times with five players recording at least one sack. Both Dorance Armstrong and Osa Odighizuwa got to Jones twice. He was constantly on his back and the Giants offense never had a chance.
3. Juanyeh to rule them all!
We have to admit, things didn’t start out all that great. When the Giants' offense marched down the field on their opening drive, it made fans a little nervous. Fortunately, things changed in a hurry as the defense tightened up at the right moment and held the Giants to a field goal. Oh, excuse me, a field goal attempt. Because just when we thought the Giants were going to jump out to the early lead, Juanyeh Thomas snuck through a crease and blocked the field goal. The ball was scooped up by recently acquired Noah Igbinoghene and he ran 58 yards for the touchdown. Now, that’s a much better start.
On the Giants' next series, Thomas showed up again with a nice pass breakup when Jones was trying to hit tight end Darren Waller. This was the first NFL action for Thomas and he looked good filling in for the injured Donovan Wilson.
4. The real Jabril
Thomas wasn’t the only second-year UDFA defender to have a great game. Former safety/now linebacker Markquese Bell was all over the place on Sunday night. He led the team with eight tackles, including a hit on Giants running back Matt Breida that popped the ball loose and went flying backward for eight yards. setting up a 3rd-and-19 for the Giants.
The team surprised us when they went short at linebacker by releasing Jabril Cox and converting Bell into a linebacker, but it appears they are on to something. Bell now wears Cox’s no. 14 and if you squint your eyes, you can see the linebacker we were all hoping Cox would be.
5. No more business decisions from Trevon
It was a defensive back clinic. The new guy Stephon Gilmore wasted no time making a splash as got his hands under an errant Jones pass resulting in his first interception as a Cowboy. DaRon Bland picked up where he left off last year as he got in on the action with a pick.
While the picks are great, it was satisfying to see the often passive-tacking Trevon Diggs bring a little extra fight. He put on a hit that popped the ball into the arms of Bland for his pick and then later stripped Isaiah Hodgins for a second takeaway. If this is the new version of Diggs we’re going to be seeing going forward, then we are in for a treat.
6. The O-Line held up wonderfully
We learned that starting left guard Tyler Smith would not be playing in Sunday’s game as he continues to recover from a strained hamstring. This put backup lineman Chuma Edoga in the trenches. Not only did he do a great job filling in, but the Cowboys' offensive line as a whole was fantastic. Prescott had plenty of time to operate, there were some nice running lanes, and the downfield blocking allowed the Cowboys to score all three of their touchdowns on the ground. Despite a very good Giants’ defensive line, Dak Prescott was never sacked in the game.
7. McCarthy’s offense
All eyes will be on the Cowboys' offense as we wait and see if moving away from Kellen Moore was the right decision. And after the Los Angeles Chargers marched down the field 94 yards for an opening drive touchdown, it didn’t exactly fill us with confidence.
But what happens with Moore’s new team has no bearing on how good this Cowboys offense is under Mike McCarthy. The stat sheet won’t wow anyone as the offense only had a total of 265 yards. Only twice last season did a Prescott-led Cowboys team have that few yards and they got smoked in both of them. True to McCarthy’s word, the offense didn’t need to fly up and down the field to be successful. Instead, they ran the ball well and played a clean game with no turnovers. Additionally, they were three out of four in the red zone. It wasn’t flashy, but it was effective.
8. Everything’s good in small amounts
The team’s offensive stars didn’t have big games statistically, but they were able to get the job done. CeeDee Lamb only had four catches for 77 yards. Tony Pollard had 14 carries for 70 yards. And Prescott only had 143 yards passing and didn’t throw a single touchdown.
But what the Cowboys offense lacked in overall volume, they made up with good balance. They finished with a solid 30/25 run/pass split and were able to get different players involved. Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn, and KaVontae Turpin each got at least five touches in the offense.
9. Aubrey settled down
One of the biggest worries fans had entering the new season is how things will go with rookie kicker Brandon Aubrey. So, when he shanked this first kick of the season, it became a little worrisome.
But as it turned out, that’s as bad as it got for him. He then proceeded to make all six of his remaining kicks. Even the ever-reliable Graham Gano from the Giants went wide left on one of his attempts. It was his first-ever game and the weather wasn’t great, so all things considered, the rookie did okay.
10. The Beast of the East
Three teams from the NFC East won on Sunday (Cowboys, Eagles, and Commanders), but since the Cowboys' victory was against a divisional opponent, they will start the year atop the division. The Eagles beat New England in what initially looked like it was going to be a blowout, only to win a close one. Washington also won a close one, but it was even less impressive as they were at home against the lowly Cardinals.
It’s just one week, but the Cowboys look like the best team in the divisional at this point.