DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys had an unexpected bout of trouble with the New York Giants, but they were able to overcome their first half struggles to pulverize their NFC East rivals 44-20 on Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium to run their record at home to a sparkling 3-0.
It took a touchdown drive at the end of the second quarter to break a 10-10 tie before halftime, but Dallas outscored the Giants 27-10 in the second half to improve to 4-1 and 2-0 in the division.
Here are four takeaways from the eighth consecutive victory quarterback Dak Prescott has stacked against New York:
1. There's two of them — The Cowboys have an embarrassment of riches in the backfield. Not only is running back Ezekiel Elliott back to his rushing-champion self, but running back Tony Pollard is also coming into his own as a feature back.
Elliott provided Dallas with 21 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown along with catching two passes for two yards and a touchdown. Pollard had 18 touches for 103 scrimmage yards.
Either back is a threat to break one, and for Elliott, it has been at least since 2018 that he has threatened defenses in that capacity. Elliott is also not getting credit for his ball security. Last year, he gifted defenses like a retiree seeing their grandkids. Through five games, Elliott doesn't have a single fumble.
2. Randy Gregory's impact cannot be found on the stat sheet — Another game, another underwhelming stat line for Gregory. The former 2015 second-round pick generated just two quarterback hits. However, stats don’t tell the whole story as he was consistently forcing the Giants' quarterbacks to abandon the pocket or get rid of the ball quickly.
The knowledge that Gregory has accumulated is finally melding with his existing physical ability and newfound availability. The Cowboys truly have a game-changer coming off the edge, and if attention is diverted away from him to DeMarcus Lawrence when he returns, or towards linebacker Micah Parsons, Gregory will start to see his name more in the stats sheet, too.
3. Mike McCarthy coached a good game — A theme in this column has been to pick on McCarthy's decisions, which have been gift-wrapped each week to be fair. However, there really isn't anything to carp about from the head coach this week.
Theoretically, the Cowboys were more "undisciplined" than the Giants as they were penalized eight times for 58 yards compared to New York's 5-48, but six of those penalties were committed after Dallas had a 17-10 lead that they spent the second half building upon. The scrum with safety Damontae Kazee and Giants wideout Kadarius Toney was part of the late-game skirmishes that punctuate division games.
McCarthy's decisions were in the flow of the game and complemented the offense's inevitable triumph.
The fourth-and-2 that ended with a Prescott interception was a good call, and equally an athletic play by defensive end Lorenzo Carter; it wasn't the decision to go for it that failed. Week 5 was the coaching advantage that Dallas will need to see carried forward.
4. Tell me who's playing on Sunday — No one can remember whether Cowboys Radio Network play-by-play Brad Sham or commentator Babe Laufenberg said it first as either of them is bound to say it each week, but it is nevertheless true: tell me who's playing on Sunday, and you can know how the game will go.
The Giants started 1-4 with running back Saquon Barkley in the lineup, but quarterback Daniel Jones has been a centerpiece of the Giants' offense, and backup Mike Glennon hasn't won a game since Sept. 24, 2017, in a 23-17 win by the Chicago Bears over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Knock out Kenny Golladay, and the already injury riddled Giants were going uphill against a Dallas juggernaut. Given the Cowboys' red zone troubles and turnovers in the first half, the game could have been closer had New York been healthier.
Dallas will have to be tighter in the areas that matter if they want to enjoy a fate of playoff success like the 9 of 16 Cowboys teams that have started 4-1 in Dallas history that have gone on to play in at least the conference championship game.
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