Well, what a way to begin the season! The Cowboys utterly dominated the Giants from start to finish and closed it out with a 40-0 final score. That’s the first time since 1999 - when the Steelers beat the Browns in their first game since being reestablished as a franchise - that a team has both been shut out and allowed 40+ points in a season opener, which puts into context just how good of a game this was for Dallas.
Of course, this was over pretty quickly. The Cowboys took a 26-0 lead into halftime, and the Giants already looked defeated by that point. Everything after was just icing on the cake. But how did it get so out of hand? These five plays were a big part of it all.
Andrew Thomas’ false start stalls a promising Giants drive
It’s easy to forget now, but the Giants offense was looking red-hot on their opening drive. They had driven all the way down to the Dallas eight-yard line, only facing one third down to that point. But on the next third down, this time needing just two yards, left tackle Andrew Thomas moved early. Micah Parsons lining up over him probably caused him to jump early.
That backed the Giants up five yards, and it was the first time in the game that the offense moved backwards. The very next play saw the center snap the ball at Daniel Jones’ ankles, and all Jones could do was fall on it, bringing up fourth down.
This turned out to be the only time all game when the Dallas defense looked vulnerable, and the false start gave them a badly needed reprieve. It stopped the bleeding just long enough for them to regain their composure. But, more importantly, it led to this blocked field goal that turned into the Cowboys’ first points of the night.
Micah Parsons’ first sack sets the tone for the night
Like I said, the Cowboys defense just needed that small reprieve after looking human on their first series of the season. But it wasn’t too long before Dan Quinn’s unit got right back to what they’ve become known for.
The Giants’ next drive saw Jones throw two incomplete passes, as the secondary was smothering receivers at every level. Then, on third down, Micah Parsons quickly reminded everyone how much of a problem he is.
That brought up the first (of many) three-and-out for the Giants, but it also set the tone for the entire defense. The Cowboys went on to record seven sacks on the night and were in Jones’ face on seemingly every dropback. That was a big reason why the Giants failed to score a single point, and Parsons kicked things off.
Dak Prescott goes deep to CeeDee Lamb on early third down
Eventually, the Cowboys offense took the field and had a chance to show off their new look with Mike McCarthy calling plays. It wasn’t long before they were facing a third down, needing four yards, and in danger of going three-and-out on the first drive of McCarthy’s reign.
But the head coach and veteran play-caller knew just what to do, drawing up a play that got CeeDee Lamb wide open down the field for a big 49-yard completion.
Instead of going three-and-out to start the game, the Cowboys were looking at first down in the red zone in a span of just one play. They eventually got to the Giants two, but a drop from Jake Ferguson forced them to settle for a field goal. Still, the big play to Lamb kept the drive alive and instantly put them in scoring position.
Trevon Diggs lays down the hammer, leads to pick six from DaRon Bland
Who said Trevon Diggs is afraid of contact? The star cornerback made a big play on the ensuing drive, but not in the manner that Cowboys fans have grown accustomed to seeing from Diggs the ballhawk.
Facing a third and 19 on the next drive, Jones lofted a checkdown to Saquon Barkley in the flat. However, Diggs flew to the ball and pummeled Barkley, forcing the ball into the air and right back down into DaRon Bland’s hands. From there, Bland knew exactly what to do.
At that point, the Cowboys extended their lead to 16-0 and the first quarter wasn’t even over yet, but it was clear that the Cowboys had come for blood and the Giants had no answers. Things were about to get ugly.
Graham Gano’s miss hammers the final nail in the coffin
Credit where it’s due: the Giants didn’t throw in the towel right there. After Jones’ second pick of the day turned into a Tony Pollard touchdown, New York’s offense came right back out and started marching down the field. Darren Waller became a fixture of the passing offense, including a big catch to convert on fourth down.
Before long, the Giants were in field goal range and sending out Graham Gano for another field goal attempt. It looked as if New York was finally going to stop the bleeding and come away with points. Then Gano hooked the kick wide left, missing badly.
That was pretty much it. Down 26-0 with halftime approaching, the Giants had just given every ounce of effort to get into scoring position and still couldn’t get any points. Any hope of a comeback was thoroughly extinguished at that point, as the Cowboys simply outmatched and outclassed the Giants on national television.