The Dallas Cowboys spoiled the New York Giants undefeated start to the season with a 23-16 victory at MetLife Stadium.
With the win, the Cowboys move to 2-1 on the year and take sole possession of second place in the NFC East, trailing only the 3-0 Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants are also 2-1, but last night’s win gives Dallas the tiebreaker.
These were the three biggest factors that propelled the Cowboys to victory in Week 3:
Another strong showing from the defense
Giants QB Daniel Jones is going to be sore for a while after last night’s loss. The Cowboys’ defense pressured Jones on 24 dropbacks, which is the most by any team this season according to ESPN.
We have a few (metaphorical) game balls to pass out to Cowboys defenders. The first goes to DeMarcus Lawrence, who tallied three sacks on Jones. This was tied for the most in a game by Lawrence in his nine-year career.
The second and final game ball goes to Dorance Armstrong. He had a sack and blocked a Giants field goal try early on, which stopped New York from taking a 3-0 lead.
Trevon Diggs snagged a game-clinching interception on the Giants last drive of the game. Diggs was positioned well to get two more picks, but couldn’t come down with the ball on either play.
As a team, Dallas sacked Jones five times, allowing him to throw for just 196 yards. The defensive line forced him to move around in the pocket and make difficult throws on the run.
The Cowboys also did a great job of limiting Saquon Barkley to only 81 rushing yards. Barkley got a large chunk of it on a 36-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter.
The offense was consistent
In Week 2, Dallas scored 17 points in the first quarter and then was held scoreless until Brett Maher hit a game-winning field goal as time expired.
This week, the offense was much more effective throughout the game. It was even at its best when it mattered most in the fourth quarter, which was the Cowboys’ highest scoring quarter.
Cooper Rush completed 67.7% of his passes for 215 yards and a touchdown. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard combined for a whopping 178 rushing yards. CeeDee Lamb had his best game of the year, tallying 87 receiving yards and a highlight reel touchdown:
Dalton Schultz sat out of the game due to a knee injury sustained against the Cincinnati Bengals last week. But his rookie replacements came in and performed well.
Peyton Hendershot, who was signed as an undrafted free agent this offseason, might have earned the TE2 job over fourth-round draft pick Jake Ferguson. Hendershot recorded 43 receiving yards to Ferguson’s 13 yards.
The last thing to note from the offense’s performance is Jason Peters’ Cowboys debut. Peters and Matt Farniok rotated drives at left guard throughout the game, but Peters certainly outplayed his counterpart.
Watch Peters (#71) create a massive lane for Pollard to burst through:
Once Peters is in good enough shape to take over full-time LG duties, the Cowboys’ offensive line will improve in a major way.
The Cowboys showed great mental toughness
In the second quarter, Lamb dropped this wide open pass which could’ve gone for a 50+ yards:
Lamb has caught flack for his mediocre performances in Dallas’ first two games. He’s supposed to be WR1, after all.
It was impressive to see Lamb put that drop behind him and make up for it with his play later in the game.
Midway through the third quarter, Barkley busted a huge touchdown run to put New York up 13-6. It was the first touchdown of the game, and it felt like the Giants had all the momentum.
But the Cowboys answered immediately with a 75 yard scoring drive on the ensuing possession. The defense followed it up by forcing a Giants punt before the Cowboys got the ball back and scored another touchdown.
That small stretch is where the Cowboys won the game. They responded very well to the Barkley touchdown, and countered back with two touchdown drives of their own.