The Cowboys dismantled the Giants on Sunday Night Football to the tune of a 40-0 final score. The Cowboys scored touchdowns on offense, defense, and special teams. Needless to say, everything went well for them. But which Cowboys played the best? Let’s take a look at some player grades from Pro Football Focus.
The defense was lights out
As you might expect after a shutout, most of the Cowboys’ top-graded players came from the defensive side of the ball. The pass rush was electric and the secondary came away with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Here are some of the defenders that had the best player grades.
EDGE Dorance Armstrong - 93.0
Dorance Armstrong being the highest-graded player on the entire team might come as a surprise given that he only played on 26% of the defensive snaps. But Armstrong made the most of those limited reps, tying for the team lead in pressures with six and recording two sacks in the process. Armstrong may not have played much, but he made his impact felt when he did.
CB Stephon Gilmore - 89.9
Stephon Gilmore’s first game with a star on his helmet was a unqualified success. As the highest-graded member of the Cowboys’ secondary, Gilmore was targeted eight times and allowed just three completions. He also had two pass breakups and, of course, an interception. It would be hard to have asked for a better first game from Gilmore.
EDGE Micah Parsons 86.0
Micah Parsons not being the highest-graded player here is definitely a surprise. Parsons was all over the field, but mostly in the backfield making Daniel Jones’ night miserable. He tied with Armstrong with six pressures and also had a sack, and would’ve had more if he hadn’t had his snaps limited once the team went up big. Business as usual for the Lion.
S Juanyeh Thomas - 84.6
Juanyeh Thomas had a great preseason, which forced the Cowboys to go six deep at safety in order to make room for him. Thomas was rewarded with a heavy workload on defense with Donovan Wilson out, and he did not let his coaches down. His lone tackle on the day was a run stop at the line of scrimmage, and his lone target resulted in a pass breakup.
Thomas also was responsible for the blocked field goal that resulted in the team’s first points of the year, though that isn’t counted towards his stellar defensive grade.
Juanyeh Thomas punt block and Noah Igbinoghene with the TD! pic.twitter.com/XQ3xRrzrYR— Tom Downey (@WhatGoingDowney) September 11, 2023
CB Trevon Diggs - 80.7
The Cowboys were so good that even Trevon Diggs got some love from PFF. Diggs had a largely quiet night, a direct result of Jones throwing at Gilmore and DaRon Bland more than him throughout the game. But Diggs was the one responsible for jarring the football out of Saquon Barkley’s hands, allowing for Bland to snag the ball and take it to the house. He also caused another fumble later in the game.
CB DaRon Bland - 74.8
Speaking of Bland, he was anything but in his first game of the year. After leading the team in picks a year ago, Bland picked up right where he left off with the awesome pick six that was setup by Diggs.
Trevon Diggs with the big hit, DaRon Bland with the TD— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) September 11, 2023
Cowboys 16, Giants 0 pic.twitter.com/ZfLyrspirY
The offense had its moments too
It was truly the defense’s night, and nobody is arguing that fact. But the Cowboys offense, in their first game with Mike McCarthy calling plays, fared well enough on their own. It wasn’t perfect, but the offense scored on five of their seven possessions before pulling their starters. Here are their three best-graded players on that side of the ball.
G Zack Martin - 91.1
Zack Martin got his contract taken care of in training camp and is back to being the best offensive lineman in the game. Martin didn’t give up a single pressure and was playing the part of a bulldozer in the run game, constantly opening up holes to run through.
WR CeeDee Lamb - 75.9
CeeDee Lamb didn’t light the Giants on fire, but he still had a very good night. He caught all four of his targets for 77 yards, including one 49-yard reception to convert a third down. Three of his four catches moved the chains as well. It wasn’t flashy, but Lamb was as solid as ever.
QB Dak Prescott - 72.8
Dak Prescott’s box score wasn’t great, completing just 54.2% of his passes and averaging six yards per attempt without a touchdown. But his grade remains positive because he played mistake-free football - no interceptions and no turnover worthy plays - and also got let down by his teammates a bit. PFF marks Prescott as having four passes dropped, a single-game high from Week 1 (pending Monday Night Football). All things considered, this was a decent first game from Prescott, but even he knows that there should be more to come.