EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Dak Prescott has now won eleven straight games against his division rival New York Giants.
But the Dallas Cowboys’ season-opening victory wasn’t solely, or even primarily, dependent on their quarterback.
None of the 40 points scored were credited to Prescott on the box score (or in your fantasy league).
Touchdowns came from all three phases of the road team.
The 40-0 victory was resounding.
The first drive of the game appeared to pose problems for the Cowboys defense, as Giants quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley each repeatedly escaped onto the field. But chaos ensued when Giants kicker Graham Gano attempted a 45-yard field goal. Cowboys safety Juanyeh Thomas blocked the attempt, while Cowboys cornerback Noah Igbinoghene returned the attempt for a 58-yard touchdown.
The Cowboys had acquired Igbinoghene from the Dolphins twelve days earlier.
Dallas pass rusher Micah Parsons sparked the next possession with a drive-killing sack, star receiver CeeDee Lamb then sparked the drive with a 49-yard catch from Prescott. Ultimately, Dallas got stuck in the red zone and settled for a field goal. It took them less than a minute to return to the end zone, this time on defense.
Credit cornerback Trevon Diggs with the physical tackle of Saquon Barkley that doubled as a pass breakup, and fellow corner DaRon Bland with the interception and 22-yard touchdown return.
Both offenses continued to struggle on a rainy night. But when veteran cornerback Stephon Gillmore caught a diving interception that came when Parsons pushed Jones out of bounds, Dallas’ offense found itself on a 25-yard field. Tony Pollard, in his first game as the Cowboys lead, punched in a 2-yard touchdown.
Pollard would score his second touchdown, a 1-yarder down the right sideline, a play after fumbles in the red zone. Cowboys center Tyler Biadasz recovered the fumble allowing the Cowboys to keep driving.
Even KaVontae Turpin, largely a special teams player for the Cowboys, rushed for a touchdown that night.
What does blowout mean for Cowboys, Giants?
The Cowboys should be confident in a few things coming out of this opener: Their defense is dangerous. Their offensive line is respectable. And they’re well-positioned to defend their NFL takeaway crown if the night’s two fumbles, two interceptions and blocked field goals are any indication.
Undrafted rookie kicker Brandon Aubrey also deserves credit for his 10-point night, with Aubrey making three of four extra-point attempts, as well as field goals from 21 and 38 yards.
The Cowboys also don’t have to worry about the run game without Ezekiel Elliott, as Pollard’s 70 yards and two touchdowns highlighted the team’s 122 yards night on the ground.
Prescott played a smart, if unspectacular, game. The Cowboys will likely need more of him in games later in the season, perhaps as early as next week against Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets. But avoiding mistakes is a valuable skill. Prescott didn’t force anything as the rain threatened mistakes.
The Giants will have to seriously wonder what went wrong. They will have to find more than one answer. How can they use Darren Waller better? Waller showed his skill in the air, running a 22-yarder to convert on fourth and fifth, but only finished with 36 yards overall and caught three of five targets.
How can the Giants threaten if they fall behind and therefore can’t rely as heavily on Barkley?
The Giants need to improve on both sides of the line of scrimmage – their talented defensive linemen failed to beat Prescott, while their offensive line allowed seven against Jones. So it’s not surprising that Jones completed just 15 of 28 for 104 yards and two interceptions.
New York will next visit the Arizona Cardinals, who may be the detox opponent they need before taking on one of the NFC’s best in the San Francisco 49ers.