Mandatory Credit: Photo by Adam Hunger/AP/Shutterstock (13422536am) Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) makes a catch in the end zone for a touchdown against New York Giants cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (22) during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, in East Rutherford, N.J Cowboys Giants Football, East Rutherford, United States – 26 Sep 2022
Cooper Rush moves to 3-0 as a starter in the NFL after earning a 23-16 win against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Monday Night. Rush completed 12 of his 13 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown on the two Cowboy possessions that ended in touchdowns as he certainly picked up steam in the second half. Rush’s final line was 21-31 for 215 yards and a touchdown. He has yet to turn the ball over in his two starts this season.
Rush played well enough to give the Cowboys the win, but this game was won in the trenches. The rushing tandem of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard combined for 178 yards on the ground, with Zeke scoring a touchdown and Pollard accounting for 105 of those yards. Defensively, Dallas sacked Daniel Jones five times, three belonging to veteran edge rusher and defensive leader DeMarcus Lawrence. Dorance Armstrong and Donovan Wilson were responsible for the other two sacks. Micah Parsons was held completely in check, as he did not register a tackle in the game.
DeMarcus Lawrence showed relief following his stellar performance tonight. He was lined up against rookie tackle Evan Neal who was penalized multiple times for holding Lawrence.
“It feels good to be held,” Lawrence said, laughing.
The game opened with the Cowboys leading a six-play drive that showed promise early with a 15-yard completion to Ceedee Lamb and a pair of nice runs from both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. However, a holding penalty from inexperienced guard Matt Farniok killed the momentum for the Cowboys, leading to a punt.
After the Giants followed that up with a 12-play drive marching 58 yards down the field, Graham Gano’s 47-yard field goal was blocked by Dorance Armstrong, allowing the Cowboys to take over at the 29-yard-line.
Dallas got their first score of the night at the end of a 10-play drive resulting in a short 26-yard field goal by Brett Maher to take the early 3-0 lead. This drive showed how penalties sometimes get the best of the Cowboys as two straight penalties from rookies Peyton Hendershot and Tyler Smith resulted in 15 yards of lost ground and caused the drive to stall.
The Giants tied the game 3-3 on a 42-yard field goal by Gano after a 14-play drive that moved into the second quarter.
On the ensuing drive, the Cowboys decided to insert future Hall-of-Famer Jason Peters at left guard, replacing Matt Farniok, and the running game instantly started rolling. Tony Pollard ran right behind Peters for a 46-yard gain allowing the Cowboys to score on another short field goal from Maher, giving them the 6-3 lead. Despite the running game hitting its stride for Dallas, they were unable to put up any more points for the rest of the half.
While the Cowboys failed to score on their next possession, there was a moment that sent fans’ hands to the top of their heads as Ceedee Lamb dropped a wide-open ball that likely would have resulted in a touchdown. Lamb has had drop issues in the past, and they have become more amplified now that he has taken the role as the team’s top target.
In an unorthodox move, the Cowboys elected to call timeout with 12 seconds left in the first half while the Giants seemed to be perfectly content running out the clock and going to the half despite having three timeouts. However, it worked out for Dallas as they deflected a Daniel Jones pass to Kenny Golladay, resulting in the Cowboys taking over on downs with eight seconds left. After a successful completion to Simi Fehoko, the Cowboys were set up for a 59-yard field goal that Maher missed to end the half sending Dallas into halftime with a 6-3 edge.
The Giants started the second half with the ball and proceeded to tie up the game at six after a 12-play drive ended in a 51-yard field goal.
On the following offensive possession, Cooper Rush tried his hand at a pair of deep balls but missed on both. One to Ceedee Lamb and the other to Jalen Tolbert who was making his pro debut in this game after being a healthy inactive for the first two weeks.
The Giants scored their first touchdown on the next drive simply by running the ball down the Cowboys’ throat. Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley both had quality runs, including Barkley’s 36-yard rush for the score. This gave the Giants a 13-6 lead.
Dallas answered right back on their next possession as Zeke punched in his first touchdown of the season, tying the game at 13 apiece. Cooper Rush went 5-5 for 64 yards on the drive.
Dallas’ defense held up on the following possession, which opened the door for them to take the lead in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys put together an 89-yard drive leading to their second touchdown of the day, along with a highlight-reel 1-yard touchdown catch from Lamb. A fade to the back corner of the endzone where he pulls it down with one hand while keeping both feet in bounds for the score, giving the Cowboys a 20-13 lead with 8:30 left in regulation. Lamb ended the day with eight catches for 87 yards and a score.
The Dallas defense continued to hold strong, forcing the Giants to go three-and-out. The special teams unit gave the Cowboys a boost as KaVontae Turpin returned the Giants’ punt 37 yards, and if it were not for Giants’ punter Jamie Gillan making the tackle as the last line of defense, it would have been another Cowboys score.
That strong return from Turpin is responsible for Dallas’ next score, as they cannot convert on third down, forcing Brett Maher to kick a 44-yard field goal giving the Cowboys a 10-point 23-13 lead with six minutes left.
The Giants answer on the next drive with a 51-yard field goal cutting the lead to seven for the Cowboys at 23-16. This Cowboys defense has been bend-don’t-break all game long, allowing only one touchdown to the Giants.
New York got the ball back with 1:45 left in the game and two timeouts, but Dallas’ defense continued their solid play by pressuring Daniel Jones resulting in him forcing the game-ending interception to last year’s league interception leader Trevon Diggs to seal the game for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys head back home to Dallas to play the Washington Commanders on Sunday afternoon.