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Cowboys at Giants: 3 stars include Juanyeh Thomas and Trevon Diggs

It would have been safe to just pick the Dallas defense as the stars of the game, but we picked out some specific players for inspection.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

There is nothing sweeter than raining on the parade of your bitter rival. Every offseason, there is so much talk about the Dallas Cowboys, with the national talking heads talking out of both sides of their mouth when referencing Dallas. On the one hand, they praise the Cowboys for having talent equipped to make a deep playoff run and placing sky-high expectations on America’s Team. Then, on the other hand, talking lowly of the Cowboys and expecting them to disappoint as many pundits expected on Sunday night.

In the weeks leading up to the game, the New York Giants were touted as this team primed to take down the Cowboys in the season opener. They had Brian Daboll, who had supposedly saved Daniel Jones from being a turnover-plagued quarterback, and the Giants as a team going places this season.

For many, New York was a trendy pick to upset the Dallas Cowboys nationally on NBC’s Sunday Night Football—one problem. The talking heads forgot who the Dallas Cowboys were. Like the Giants, Dallas also won a playoff game last season and 24 games over the past two seasons with an elite defense. For the national pundits who have forgotten who the Cowboys were, or were under the impression that people are sleeping on the Giants, here is your wake-up call and a reminder of who the Dallas Cowboys are.

By beating New York 40-0, the Cowboys set a new record for the biggest blowout of the Giants since their 1995 35-0 win over New York in the season opener played at Giants Stadium. For everyone at home keeping count, Dak Prescott has now won his 11th straight game against the Giants, who have not beaten him since his rookie season. However, the team didn’t ask Prescott to carry the burden alone. He had plenty of help in the primetime embarrassment of the New York Giants. Here are three stars of the game that helped mow down the Giants in Meadowlands.

Juanyeh Thomas

Seeing the field primarily because Donovan Wilson had a calf injury, Juanyeh Thomas played a terrific game in his absence. After going undrafted in 2022, Thomas made enough of an impression to stick around and make the 53-man roster out of training camp. He picked up where he left off and still plays as if he is still fighting to make the team. First, Thomas did an outstanding job in coverage. He was sometimes tasked with playing coverage from the slot and handled it well. One play, he lined up across from Darren Waller in the slot, read the route as Waller was coming out of his break, and deflected the pass without drawing a pass interference penalty.

Thomas’ play of the night came after the game’s opening drive. After the Giants moved the ball down the field pretty easily to start the game, the Cowboys defense held and forced the Giants to a field goal try. On the attempt, Thomas timed the snap perfectly and knifed through the Giants’ special team unit for the field goal block. Thomas’ effort was terrific because he also made the block on Graham Gano to spring Noah Igbinoghene for the touchdown. It was a shining performance for Thomas’ regular season debut.

The Cowboys’ pass rush

When you get to the quarterback as often as the Cowboys did against the Giants, plenty of kudos will be given out. Let’s start with Micah Parsons. We know how phenomenal and otherworldly he is as a pass rusher. For example, his only sack of the evening demonstrated how terrifying he is as a pass rusher. The way he used his hands to knock away the arms of right guard Mark Glowinski on the play, getting him off balance, and then accelerating into the backfield to sack Daniel Jones was awe-inducing.

As terrific as he is, his greatness elevates the performance of those around him and creates opportunities for his teammates. With all the attention given to Parsons, it provides one-on-one chances for his teammates to get to the quarterback. Osa Odighizuwa was one of the benefactors of Parsons’ greatness. He tied with Dorance Armstrong for the team lead in sacks with two. He is in line for a big year playing next to Parsons and is off to a great start with his performance on Sunday.

The Cowboys sacked Daniel Jones seven times. Dallas often got to Jones rushing only four and dropping the rest in coverage. It looked like the Cowboys were sending a blitz on every dropback while dropping seven in coverage. Jones seldom had time to scan the field and, when he had time, was skittish leading to poor throwing mechanics, throwing several errant passes.

During the broadcast, Cris Collinsworth mentioned the physicality of the hits Jones was taking. The team was playing with an unbridled swagger and confidence. The Cowboys pass rush could sense they were outclassing the Giants, and their cascade of pass rushers felt like a tsunami crashing over the Giants offensive line and Daniel Jones. The right side of the Giants’ offensive line was especially under siege. Evan Neal and Mark Glowinski were taken to a master class on what not to do when protecting the passer. This pass rush put the league on notice with Sunday’s outing.

Trevon Diggs

Fresh off a new contract extension with the team, the $97 million man looked and played like it. The Cowboys secondary was a no-fly zone and grounded the Giants’ aerial approach. That is thanks to Trevon Diggs’ efforts. His confidence and bravado shined through in the way that he played and in the way that he communicated with his teammates, taunting the Giants not to throw at the Cowboys defense.

This competitive trash talk won’t get the same national attention as it did over the summer at Cowboys training camp, but that’s okay. Diggs’ performance did all the talking for him. His physicality led to two takeaways for the Dallas defense. His big hit on Saquon Barkley set the tone for the Cowboys defense early and led to a score. His hit on Barkley at the point of the catch forced the ball up in the air and into the waiting arms of DaRon Bland, who returned the interception for a touchdown.

Then, late in the game, with the outcome very much decided, Diggs forced a fumble on wide receiver Isiah Hodgins after Hodgins had a 24-yard yard catch and run, giving New York their most explosive play of the evening. If there was any fading, burning desire to compete left in the New York Giants, Diggs doused those dwindling flames and turned the lights out on the Giants fans in attendance. Diggs’ tenacity, the experience of Stephon Gilmore on the opposite side of the field, and the pass rush’s ferocity are setting things up nicely for the Cowboys to see a quick return on their investment in Trevon Diggs.

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