The Dallas Cowboys are now 2-0 with Cooper Rush as their starting quarterback since Dak Prescott‘s injury. The New York Giants lost their first game of the season against these Cowboys during a “white out” in New Jersey Monday night.
That was the backdrop as these two NFC East rivals did battle to conclude Week 3 of the NFL season at MetLife Stadium.
New York took a 13-6 lead in the third quarter before Rush led Dallas on three consecutive scoring drives to take control of the game. Meanwhile, Dallas’ defense was all over Daniel Jones in what was a 23-16 win for the ‘Boys. Here, we look at the five biggest winners and losers from Dallas’ seven-point victory over New York.
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Winner: Dallas Cowboys rushing attack gets going
Early on Monday night, people watching the game were thrown for a loop with Ezekiel Elliott getting touch after touch to open the game. He seemed to struggle running between the tackles with a younger Tony Pollard waiting in the wings. But it appeared that Dallas’ offensive coordinator Kellen Moore had a game plan.
Elliott and Pollard combined for 178 rushing yards on 28 attempts with the former going for 4.9 yards per attempt while the latter averaged 8.1 yards per tote. That was the type of balance Dallas needed with New York’s defensive line honing in on a makeshift Cowboys offensive line. And it could be a harbinger of things to come moving forward.
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Loser: New York Giants offensive line was a hot mess
Evan Neal and Andrew Thomas struggled big time protecting the edges Monday night. As the Giants double and triple teamed NFL MVP candidate Micah Parsons throughout the game, it’s the rest of the Cowboys’ defensive front that stepped up.
Jones was hit 12 times, sacked a total of five times and found himself pressured 22 times on 41 drops backs. A north of 50% pressure rate tells us something about the lack of performance from an offensive line. It’s not a recipe for success when it comes to a team relying on a pedestrian starting quarterback in Jones.
Related: Dallas Cowboys schedule and game-by-game predictions
Winner: Cooper Rush just wins for the Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made headlines this past week while projecting a potential quarterback competition in Big D with Prescott sidelined. While that’s still absolutely ridiculous and a prime example of Jones simply liking to hear himself talk, Rush has done everything asked of him.
During a three-possession span in the second half, Rush completed 13-of-15 passes. All said, he was 21-of-31 passing for 215 yards with a touchdown and zero interceptions. Regardless of anything else, Rush has proven that he’s among the most capable backups in the NFL. That’s no small thing.
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Loser: Daniel Jones crashes back down to earth for the New York Giants
We can focus on the lack of protection in front of Jones. We can blame the Giants’ offensive line. That’s more than fine. It’s also fair. However, Jones didn’t do anything to inspire confidence Monday night like we saw during New York’s 2-0 start to the season.
- Daniel Jones stats (Week 3): 20-of-37 passing, 196 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
New York was a miserable 3-of-11 on third downs. Only eight of Jones’ 20 completions went for actual first downs. He missed opened receivers when he had a chance to pass the ball, too. In all, Monday’s performance was a major step back for Jones.
Winner: DeMarcus Lawrence steps up for the Dallas Cowboys
A game that saw New York throw the kitchen sink in blocking Micah Parsons also included Lawrence turning back the clock in a big way. Lawrence recorded three quarterback hits, three sacks and seven total pressures on Daniel Jones. This is something we have not seen from the former Pro Bowler since he was dominating in his prime back in 2017.
Lawrence’s performance could create a major issue for opposing offenses moving forward. They can no longer send two or three blockers to Parsons’ side. And with the ball hawks Dallas has in the secondary, this could prove big moving forward.