The Dallas Cowboys silenced their critics for just one more week after their Sunday night victory over the New York Giants. Quarterback Dak Prescott entered the primetime showdown with pressure to respond after an abysmal week 1 performance. The outside noise was amplified after New York safety Landon Collins emphasized the game plan was to make Prescott beat them. 72 hours later the Cowboys are currently in a 3-way tie for first place after securing a 20-13 victory.
Prescott and the coaching received loads of criticism for the simplicity of the play-calling against the Carolina Panthers. After failing to connect deep on a single pass in Week 1, Prescott dropped back on the third snap of the game and threw a dime to a streaking Tavon Austin, who outran two Giants’ defensive backs for a 64-yard touchdown. Austin finished the outing with 79 receiving yards off two catches. The offense seemed to figure out how to best use the pieces, but Prescott would go on to finish the game with just 160 yards passing, completing 64 percent of his attempts and no interceptions.
The ground game saw contribution from three different players with Ezekiel Elliott leading the group. Elliott fought for a tough 78 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. Prescott saw his involvement in the ground game increase as he piled up 45 yards on 7 rushes while Austin tacked on another 15 yards on his only carry on the night.
The offense stayed in rhythm on their second possession showcasing an eight play. 64-yard series that ended with Brett Maher kicking a 37-yard field goal, his first career NFL points. The Cowboys defense left none of their tenacity in Carolina as they didn’t allow a point in the first half of the game. The Giants offense was forced to punt on each of their first five possessions. Eli Manning had gotten well acquainted with this Dallas pass rush as he was sacked four times leading into halftime and only amassed 79 yards of total offense until that point.
The Dallas defense showed dominance until the last minutes of the fourth quarter. Rookie Saquon Barkley was limited to 28 yards rushing on 11 attempts while Odell Beckham Jr. only hauled in four receptions for 51 yards. Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie continues to lead an improving secondary finishing with a game-high eight tackles. Linebacker Jaylon Smith, who finished with six tackles, anchored the middle of a linebacking core who was active all night. Rookie Lander Vander Esch finished his second-career game with seven tackles. Damien Wilson made his presence felt as he forced the Cowboys lone turnover of the night at the beginning of the third quarter. Wilson sacked Manning on a blitz and knocked the ball loose, where Taco Charlton was there to fall on it. It set the Cowboys up for another Maher field goal from 27 yards out to push their lead to 13-0.
The Dallas offense had pretty much stalled from their first quarter explosion until Prescott led them on another efficient drive in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys capped off an 82 yard, 14 play drive, with a 6-yard touchdown run from Elliot. The offense took a commanding 17-point lead and placed them firmly in the driver’s seat.
The Giants did make a brief run at the end off of a Manning to tight end Evan Engram touchdown. They were then able to capitalize off of their onside kick recovery and work their way into field goal range to cut the lead to 20-13. The Giants luck finally ran out as they botched their second onside kick attempt, which allowed Dallas to secure an ever important division win. They’ll look towards Seattle next week to battle the Seahawks next Sunday afternoon at 3:25 p.m. CDT.
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