DALLAS — If football is a war of attrition, then the Dallas Cowboys won the skirmish on the football field and in the medical report against the New York Giants. With the Giants having numerous injuries coming into the game, and suffering more during it, the Cowboys were able to overcome sloppy play early to put away their NFC East rivals 44-20.
The scoreboard shows a blowout, but the game wasn’t comfortable until late. If the Giants had been able to keep starting QB Daniel Jones, RB Saqoun Barkley, or WR Kenny Golladay on the field, it’s not out of the question to wonder if the outcome could have been different.
However, the Cowboys don’t need to apologize for beating the Giants, no matter who was on the field. Dallas shot themselves in the foot early and often, yet managed to right the ship and dominate in the second half.
New York intercepted Dak Prescott on a tipped ball on the Cowboys’ first possession. On their second chance, tight end Dalton Schultz dropped a would-be touchdown to take points off the board. Dallas followed those miscues with a fumble inside the five-yard line to waste another chance.
So, despite the injuries for New York, if Dallas doesn’t blow those opportunities early, the rout might have come early rather than later for the Cowboys.
When Mike McCarthy’s squad stopped beating themselves, they took to beating the Giants. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore helped slow things down by pounding the ball at the New York defense, who couldn’t stop the run. The offensive line helped pave the way for the running game once again. For the second consecutive game, the Cowboys rushed for over 200 yards (201).
Ezekiel Elliott continues to turn back the clock and looks more like the player that he was in his first few years in the league. The two-time rushing champion went for 110 yards with a score on the ground and one receiving. The rushing output was Elliott’s second consecutive 100-yard game.
His partner in crime, Tony Pollard, chipped in with 75 more yards on just 14 carries.
With the running game effective again, Prescott picked his spots to make the Giants’ defense pay. That included a perfect pass to CeeDee Lamb for a 49-yard score in Dallas’ first drive of the second quarter as the Cowboys settled down and took a 10-0 lead.
The Giants battled back throughout the rest of the quarter and tied the game with a long drive that had Dallas on their heels. However, the Cowboys got the ball back with 2:51 remaining in the first half where Prescott capped off an eight play, 75-yard drive with a 24-yard precision strike touchdown to Amari Cooper that split two defenders.
Good teams answer points with points and the Cowboys had a big-time answer for the Giants to steal momentum just before halftime.
The offense continued that push in the third quarter when they scored on their first possession to open the second half. This time a 75-yard touchdown drive gave the Cowboys an 11-point lead and it featured a dazzling play out of Moore’s bag of tricks. Prescott faked a toss to Elliott, looked away, only to come back and throw to a wide-open Elliott for a beautifully designed touchdown call from Moore.
That offensive play of the game for the Cowboys was followed by the defensive play of the game. On the first play of the ensuing possession, the Giants tried to test Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs. The NFL’s leader in interceptions was having none of it as Diggs picked off his sixth pass on the season.
The decision to throw at Diggs was a costly mistake as the Cowboys managed to kick a field goal to take a 27-13 lead, which felt like a game clincher with the Giants using backup QB Mike Glennon.
That score wasn’t the end of the story for the Cowboys though, as they began to pour it on against their division rival. When the Cowboys got the ball back, they went on a nine play, 98-yard drive to seal the game. The drive was capped off by a 13-yard rushing score from Elliott to put the Cowboys up 21 points.
The Giants still wanted a fight as they scored a touchdown on their next possession and got the ball back down 17 points late. The Dallas defense welcomed the challenge, however. Cornerback Anthony Brown picked off a Glennon pass and returned it 45-yards for a score to leave no doubt that the Cowboys were the better team.
After the fumble in the first quarter, the Cowboys’ offense scored on five straight possessions. When the Giants hoped to make things close, the Cowboys managed to pull away. This is what good teams do. Even when they play a little sloppy, the best teams take care of business. The Giants were short-handed, and the Cowboys took advantage.
Sunday’s victory makes it four straight wins for the Cowboys, who pulled two games ahead of everyone in the division and continue to look like one of the best teams in the NFC.
Are you bragging about the Cowboys after Sunday’s win? Share your best boasts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.