The Dallas Cowboys, after starting off the season with a dismal 1-3 record, were in need of a desperate victory.
Luckily for Dallas, a chance to turn around their fortunes presented itself this past Sunday as they faced off against the rebuilding and Saquon Barkley-deprived New York Giants. After falling behind to the Giants, 17-3 in the second quarter, the Cowboys were able to climb back and beat the Giants, 37-34.
The victory, however, did not come without its bitter pill to swallow as quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a right compound fracture of the ankle. The injury will require the soon-to-be free agent to undergo a four-to-six-month timetable for recovery. As a result, he will miss the remainder of the season.
Injury aside, here is the breakdown of the game.
Even with the injury issues on the offensive line, the Cowboys collectively did what they were supposed to against a weak Giants’ defensive front. Running back Ezekiel Elliott, as usual, received the majority of the running carries as the 25-year-old found the end zone twice by rushing with the ball 19 times for 91 yards.
When discussing the receiving side of the offense, rookie CeeDee Lamb did the majority of the damage as the Oklahoma Sooner-product picked up eight receptions on 11 targets. Through his extremely young NFL career, his 124 receiving yards in the game were a career-high. Michael Gallup, Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson supplemented the receiving core in the matchup and reinforced the obvious – Dallas has a surplus of wide receivers, and to think, Dallas still has a solid tight end-tandem save Blake Jarwin and a serviceable pass-catcher in Elliott, too.
The Cowboys’ weapons, however, will not be the question mark moving forward. Instead, it will be the quarterback situation, as a Dak stiff-arm and tumble led to a compound fracture of his right ankle. With Dak out of action for the rest of the season, the short and long-term ramifications are significant. The short-term question is simple – will Andy Dalton capitalize on his weapons arsenal and overcome the injury-plagued offensive line in front of him? Long-term, the question has to be said as to whether Dak played his last game in a Cowboy uniform.
So many questions and just as many unanswered solutions. Something will have to give, right?
Talk about something having to give. On the bright side, the defense under newly-minted defensive coordinator Mike Nolan finally maintained a steady barrage of quarterback pressure as the game progressed. On the other side of the coin, the defense still allowed the Giants’ offense to convert over half of their third downs (7-13) and win the time of possession battle (32:22 for New York compared to 27:38 for Dallas).
Given the Cowboys’ depth (not to mention injury) issues and the coordinator change, it is not insane to expect a work in progress in regard to Dallas’ defense. However, allowing the Giants to out-possess and almost out-score you, when they are without Barkley, shows there is still a long, and potentially, rough road ahead for this defense.
Cowboys’ kicker Greg Zuerlein was perfect from the field, as he converted three field goals and four extra-point attempts. Zuerlein will need to continue his production should more Dallas drives stall beyond midfield moving forward. He has the leg, but can he remain accurate? So far, so good.
The Cowboys will navigate their first game without Prescott next Monday, as they will face off against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football at 8:15 p.m. EST.