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The lights weren’t too bright for the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football as they went into MetLife Stadium and beat the undefeated New York Giants 23-16. The Week 3 matchup was set to be a test for both teams and it was the Cowboys that passed to move into second place in the NFC East.
For the Giants, they were playing a team that has been able to pressure the quarterback so they were angling to find out if quarterback Daniel Jones and the offensive line were up to the task of overcoming the onslaught. They weren’t.
From the start, the Dallas defense had Jones running for his football life. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence sacked the Giants signal caller on the first series and picked up two more throughout the evening.
The Cowboys would total five sacks during the contest as they pressured Jones relentlessly all night. Only the mobility of Jones saved him from more pain as the Giants QB tucked it and ran for 79 yards.
Week 3 presented another solid effort from the defense all around. Dan Quinn’s group allowed just 336 total yards and gave up 16 points, including just 3 points in the first half. The Cowboys have now played three games on the season and have yet to allow 20 points in any one contest. They are one of just four teams in the league to have accomplished the feat.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys were challenged offensively but saw another steady performance from quarterback Cooper Rush. The backup QB threw for 215 yards and a score, but his numbers could have been better if it weren’t for a few drops. Rush was never rattled, played smart football, and kept the offense in positive down and distance situations all night.
The Cowboys don’t have a quarterback controversy when starting QB Dak Prescott returns, but Rush has shown that he’s capable of winning games when he is called upon.
The biggest boon of the night came from the ground game where the Cowboys got back to running the football and dominated with their offensive line. Rush wasn’t sacked and the dynamic duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard ran for a combined 178 yards, a season best. Elliott contributed 73 yards and a 3rd & 12 gain of 27 yards was his best run of the year.
Pollard finally got into the groove of things after not seeing enough touches in the first two weeks of the season and he came away with his first 100-yard game of 2022. His 105 yards on just 13 carries was more of what the Cowboys expected from Pollard after last season’s breakout campaign.
Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb led the Cowboys in receiving yards with 87 and his one-handed touchdown catch to give Dallas a late lead was a thing of beauty. Lamb had a rough first half after dropping what should’ve been a long gain but redeemed himself with one of his best drives with the team.
With the game tied at 13-13 in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys went for it on 4th & 4 from the New York 41 yard line, and Lamb answered the bell with a tough first down catch. Later in the drive, Lamb finished it off with the score that proved to be the game-winner.
The scoring drive showed that Lamb is capable of being a No. 1 WR – something Dallas has been waiting for this season – and it was a nice response to a rough start.
That was the theme of the night for the Cowboys. It was a gritty performance for a team that looked like they were done after giving up a long scoring run to Giants running back Saquon Barkley in the middle of the third quarter.
After Barkley gave the Giants the lead, Rush and the offense answered with a touchdown drive of their own to tie the game. The Cowboys then got another touchdown to start the fourth quarter and kicked a field goal to go up 10 points. That was three straight scoring possessions led by Rush after trailing for the first time in the game.
Dallas responded to some adversity and walked away with a victory which is never an easy proposition during an in-division road game, especially with a backup QB.
The Cowboys are back in the saddle, and back in the hunt after riding the defense and a strong running game to a win over the Giants. These Cowboys continued to fight when everyone thought they were done.
The demise of America’s Team appears to have been greatly exaggerated.
Are you feeling better about the Cowboys after their Monday night win? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.