What We Saw: Cowboys at Giants

The Dallas Cowboys travel to the New York Giants to wrap up Week 3

Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants

Final Score: Dallas 23, Giants 16

Writer: Michael James (@MikeoftheFF on Twitter)

 

Cooper Rush came into the game with his undefeated record as a starter in the NFL, looking to set the tempo on the opening drive with a quick drive to midfield before having the all too familiar offensive line penalty completely deflate the drive.  The Giants came out on their opening drive matching the tempo with Daniel Jones chipping away at the secondary before stalling out just outside the red zone.  The field goal attempt was subsequently blocked, setting the tone for the first half of good-looking drives that stall out near the end zone.

The problem with taking rookies out on the road for the first time is the penalty jitters as the rookie tight end and rookie guard for the Cowboys had 4 penalties in the first half resulting in more work to the uprights for Brett Maher rather than plays in the end zone.  The Giants had their own issues with the yellow cloth too, particularly a momentum-killing flag on Sterling Shepard for a rather questionable pass interference penalty on Trevon Diggs.  Troy Aikman’s prediction at kick-off would hold true entering the locker rooms at half-time with a baseball score.  Sadly, having a holder with the best hair of the week doesn’t save you from not getting enough air under the ball to clear the blockers.

 

 

Coming out of the break, the Giants used their first two possessions to tie the game and then take the lead on Saquon Barkley’s 20mph touchdown run, his lone big rush of the night.  It is worth noting that before the play, he was outgained on the ground by his own quarterback, and it was not close.  The Cowboys answered back taking a drive down the field with notable catches from CeeDee Lamb and Peyton Hendershot to gain solid chunks of yardage to put them into the red zone, allowing Ezekiel Elliott to punch it in for the touchdown.  A quick 4 and out for the Giants would give the ball back to the Cowboys who would take it 11 plays down the field capping off with a big catch and run from Lamb and ending with a one-handed grab in the back of the end zone to take the lead.  The two teams would go on to trade field goals to add to the points of Graham Gano and Maher.  The Giants’ final drive ended abruptly as David Sills slipped on a deep ball, allowing Diggs to get his hands underneath it coming up with the game-sealing interception.  With his final kneel-downs, Rush maintained his undefeated record as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

 

 

 

Dallas Cowboys

 

Quarterback

 

Cooper Rush: 21/31, 215 Yards, TD | 2 Carries, -2 Yards

 

As the night games get into the 4th quarter, you start asking yourself, “Phew, what hour are we getting into already this late at night?”  Rush Hour, that’s what time it was in the fourth quarter.  When it was needed to take the lead, Cooper Rush marshaled the offense to 10 unanswered points to secure the win.  Rush went 12 of 13 on the two drives that ended in touchdowns for 129 yards including a super clutch 4th and 4 play for 26 yards to CeeDee Lamb.  Unfortunately, “keeping cool” and “clutch plays under pressure” don’t award bonus points in fantasy, so his final box score stats remain average.

Rush attempted 5 passes of 20+ air yards, including one where Lamb was wide-open that would have gone for 30 yards and almost certainly a touchdown if Lamb didn’t let it simply pass through his hands.  Rush also needs to work on his accuracy as a few of his throws to open receivers were behind the target, including another deep ball to Lamb who was ahead of his cover.  No confidence was shaken, however, the very next play was another deep throw to the rookie Jalen Tolbert, who dropped the catch.  Fun Fact – Cooper Rush is the first undrafted quarterback to throw for 750+ yards and win his first 3 games since Kurt Warner did it in 1999 (per NFLResearch).  If I recall, Warner went on to win some pretty impressive awards that year.  Now, this Cowboys offense is certainly a long way from the Rams offense back then, but I’m just saying…

 

 

Running Back

 

Ezekiel Elliott: 15 Carries, 73 Yards, TD | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 2 Yards

Tony Pollard: 13 Carries, 105 Yards | 1 Target

 

This is the glass half-full stat line fantasy owners were hoping for with this rushing attack.  Ezekiel Elliott still has the step and still can punch through the defenders on first contact, in contrast to Tony Pollard‘s speed to get to the edge before his opponents do.  One thing of note is Elliott finally had his ‘ breakthrough’ play gaining 27 yards, and Pollard had a passing target on the goal line for him to fall into the end zone.  “Almost” doesn’t get you partial credit, but it is encouraging for owners to see.  The discouraging part –  neither player did much for you in the PPR department.  The WRs were getting separation in Rush’s progression reads most of the night, so no dump-offs were to be had.

 

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

CeeDee Lamb: 12 Targets, 8 Receptions, 87 Yards, TD

Noah Brown: 7 Targets, 5 Receptions, 54 Yards

Peyton Hendershot: 3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 43 Yards

Jake Ferguson: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 13 Yards

Simi Fehoko: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 12 Yards

Jalen Tolbert: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 4 Yards

 

CeeDee Lamb showed up in week 3, much to the relief of fantasy owners.  Even more encouraging- he left a lot on the field too.  Two deep balls were incomplete to Lamb, one at the fault of Rush, one at the fault of Lamb who was kicking himself at that would-be touchdown.  But he quickly got over it after converting a 26-yard catch to the one-yard line only to follow up on the next play with a nasty one-handed catch on a corner fade in the end zone.  Another thing the box score won’t show is a couple of catches where Lamb took hard contact the instant he caught the ball and hung on to it all the way down.

Michael Gallup was a late scratch heading into the night before, but all that meant was a nice slide-in for Noah Brown who continued to be Rush’s go-to target when flushed out of the pocket.  For what it is worth, Brown had his number called for a back of the end zone cross but was held at the line that left viewers and the announcers scratching their heads at how the officials did not flag that play in a game where 16 flags were thrown.  It will be interesting to see moving forward how it will all shake out given that if Gallup almost played this weekend, he will certainly be back next week.

Two rookies got their numbers called on passing plays multiple times tonight.  One of them, Peyton Hendershot who was filling in for the injured Dalton Schultz, showed impressive run-after-the-catch skills including an awkward hurdle that got some good distance off the ground.  The other, Jalen Tolbert, had more penalty yards than receiving yards.

 

 

 

New York Giants

 

Quarterback

 

Daniel Jones: 20/37, 196 Yards, INT | 9 Carries, 79 Yards

 

When you pressure someone like Daniel Jones who is one of the better scrambling quarterbacks, you have to be aware he can turn a quarterback pressure into a rushing gain.  There was even a fourteen-yard scramble that was called back by penalty.  Jones ended up rushing for seven first downs, I believe only one of them was a called keeper.  The Giants game planned for Micah Parsons, keeping him in check with double teams and tight end bumps which worked out well for the most part on that side.  However, you don’t lead the NFL in sacks for the season if you only have 1 playmaking rusher.  This would open the way for DeMarcus Lawrence to tally 3 of the Cowboys’ 5 sacks on the night.  Two more sacks were nullified by a penalty away from the line.  All in all, Jones faced 24 pressures, a career-high resulting in 12 hits and 5 sacks.  Tough night in the office for Jones which played a huge part in both the low passing yards and the high rushing yards.   The lone interception was the result of David Sills slipping in his route and falling to the ground.  Last year, Jalen Hurts lead the league in quarterback rushing attempts.  Jones is currently on pace to beat that number this season.

 

 

 

Running Back

 

Saquon Barkley: 14 Carries, 81 Yards, TD | 4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 45 Yards

Matt Breida: 1 Carry, 3 Yards

 

The Giants have not scored a touchdown in the first half of all three games, and have scored an impressive 46 points in the second half of said games.  I believe in the completely revitalized force that is Saquon Barkley who grinds teams down and punishes them when they begin to tire as the game wears on.  It appeared the Giants were just completely stagnant in run blocking to start the game, as it took Barkley’s 36-yard break out just to catch up to his own quarterback in rushing yards.  I thought the Giants were effective in short passes to Barkley in the flat, but for whatever reason, chose not to expand on getting Barkley involved further in that manner which was working.  A note, Barkley had a 14-yard reception called back on a penalty.  Fun fact – this was the game both teams allowed their first rushing touchdown of the season.

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Sterling Shepard: 10 Targets, 5 Receptions, 49 Yards

Richie James: 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 36 Yards | 1 Carry, 4 Yards

Daniel Bellinger: 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 40 Yards

David Sills V: 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 20 Yards

Chris Myarick: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 6 Yards

 

Daniel Jones had three deep throws to Sterling Shepard that were not caught to add to the 5 catches that Shepard did come down with.  Jones just did not have a lot of time to throw tonight from start to finish.  With the good of 10 targets also comes the bad of two unfortunate penalties called on him.  One for pass interference that was a suspect call where all he did was happen to collide with Trevon Diggs while running his route, nullifying what would have been Golladay’s 20-yard catch.  The other was an unsportsmanlike penalty after the play that nullified a personal foul that would have added 15 yards to one of Jones’ runs.  Unfortunately, bad news came in twos tonight, as the same play that ended the Giants’ chance to win, also ended with Shepard coming up hard on a non-contact injury that resulted in him being carted off the field.  Shepard also suffered a debilitating injury last season against the Cowboys.

If time is to be missed, which as of now is believed to be the case, Kenny Golladay who had his only catch on 3 targets nullified by a penalty could see an expanded role as well as Kadarius Toney, who missed tonight’s game, when he does return.  Richie James and the rookie TE Daniel Bellinger saw their action come from the slot due to the immense pressure Jones was facing.  Most of the night Bellinger spent helping block the rush.

Maybe it’s time for Brian Daboll to call up Chad Powers to spark some offense moving forward…

 

 

 

 

Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

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