Cowboys at Giants score, takeaways: Cooper Rush, Dallas offense come alive late to win NFC East battle

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The Giants are undefeated no more. The Cowboys were able to come into MetLife Stadium and hand their NFC East rival their first loss of the season by the way of a 23-16 victory on "Monday Night Football." 

This game was a slow burn over the course of the first two quarters, as both teams could manage only a total of three field goals heading into the halftime locker room. However, a combined 30 points were scored in the second half, which resulted in Dallas pulling away thanks to a 17-0 run that stretched from the tail end of the third quarter to the early stages of the fourth. Trevon Diggs then put the dagger in New York by picking off Daniel Jones with just over a minute to play in regulation.

Cooper Rush continued to keep Dallas in the win column and was poised throughout this prime-time affair. He dropped back 31 times and completed 21 of his passes for 215 yards and a touchdown. On the other side, Jones was 20-of-37 passing for 196 yards and one pick. He also rushed nine times for 79 yards. 

For a more detailed breakdown of how this game unfolded, check out our main takeaways below.  

Why the Cowboys won

Cooper Rush continues to impress as the spot starter for the Cowboys as Dak Prescott continues to recover from a thumb injury he suffered in Week 1. The moment never seemed too big for Rush, even as the early portions of the game were low-scoring and the Cowboys committed a handful of self-imposed mistakes. He made a number of timely throws, including a clutch touchdown to CeeDee Lamb to take the lead in the fourth quarter (more on that play in our turning points) that proved to be the go-ahead score. Part of that credit for Rush's success should be cast on Dallas' offensive line, which kept him relatively untouched for the evening as the Giants recorded zero sacks and just two quarterback hits. 

Speaking of the O-line, Jason Peters wasted no time making an impact after being elevated to the active roster for this game. He carved out massive lanes for Dallas backs to rip off chunk plays running to the left side of the line, which included a 46-yard run by Tony Pollard in the second quarter. 

On the night, the Tony Pollard-Ezekiel Elliott duo averaged 6.3 yards per carry.

Meanwhile, it was a rags to riches story for Lamb, who dropped an easy touchdown in the second quarter, but redeemed himself with the go-ahead touchdown late. On his first seven drives of the night, Lamb caught just four passes for 39 yards. On what proved to be the game-winning drive, he lived up to his No. 1 WR status and caught four passes for 48 yards and a touchdown. 

As for the defense, it gave New York fits all night, particularly the pass rush. On top of the five sacks it was able to get on Daniel Jones, Dallas pressured the QB on nearly half of his dropbacks and consistently made him move off his spot, which either resulted in a scramble or Jones throwing the ball away. 

It wasn't a perfect night for Dallas, as it had eight penalties for 70 yards and let the Giants hang around when there were opportunities to put them away early. Still, none of those miscues proved fatal, and now the Cowboys sit at 2-1 on the year.

Why the Giants lost

A theme for the Giants on Monday night was their inability to grab ahold of the low hanging fruit. There were periods throughout this matchup where it felt like the Cowboys were essentially handing them the victory, but they simply couldn't capitalize. 

One example of that came on their first offensive possession during which a holding penalty on Dallas prevented what would have been a three-and-out and kept the drive alive. New York brought the ball to the Cowboys 29-yard line, but proceeded to throw three-straight incompletions and had their field goal attempt blocked.

As they came out for the second half, the Giants would rip off a 10-0 run and take the lead for the first time, but couldn't absorb Dallas' counter punch as they went on back-to-back touchdown drives. During that stretch where the Cowboys put up 14 unanswered, New York's offense ran seven plays and held the ball for just 1:43 over two drives. 

Even in the final minutes of the game, the Cowboys failed to stay in bounds on a third-and-7 completion by Rush to Jake Ferguson, which gave New York the ball back with 1:45 left in regulation and down a touchdown. With no timeouts in their pocket, traveling all the way to the end zone from their own 9-yard line was going to take a miracle, but it was just another situation where Dallas wasn't exactly buttoned up and allowed New York a chance, which it ultimately couldn't grab ahold of.

On top of situational miscues, the Giants offensive line struggled to contain Dallas' pass rush and had Daniel Jones under siege all night. He was sacked five times and was pressured on 43% of his dropbacks in this matchup. On the flip side, New York's front seven couldn't disrupt Cooper Rush at all. 

The Giants were also gashed on the ground, as Elliott and Pollard combined for 178 yards on 28 carries. 

Turning point

The Giants took their first lead of the game thanks to an impressive touchdown run by Saquon Barkley, and it felt like the momentum had begun to swing in New York's direction. However, Dallas was quick to match the scoring drive with one of its own, as it marched 75 yards down the field on nine plays. Elliott barreled in for the touchdown at the 1-yard line to knot the game at 13 apiece. 

Dan Quinn's defense then forced a 45-second drive by the Giants offense, and the Cowboys proceeded to reach the end zone for a second consecutive time. This time, the drive took them 11 plays to travel 89 yards and ended with a remarkable one-handed catch by Lamb in the corner of the end zone. That first touchdown to begin what grew to be a 17-0 run for the Cowboys to end the game was massive in snuffing any sort of momentum for New York in what could have turned into a raucous atmosphere at MetLife Stadium. 

Play of the game

Lamb's one-handed catch is admittedly the top play for the game, but we gave that enough shine in Dallas turning the tide. The 1B in terms of top plays came from Barkley, who scored the game's first touchdown to give New York its only lead of the game. He took a first-and-10 handoff from the Dallas 36 and shed two would-be tacklers up the middle of the field before breaking out left and galloping for the touchdown. 

According to Next Gen Stats, Barkley faced eight defenders in the box and gained +31 rushing yards over expected on the run. Barkley now leads the NFL in rushing yards over expected, edging out Browns star back Nick Chubb. This was also Barkley's longest touchdown run since Week 17 of the 2019 season 

What's next

From here, the Cowboys will head back to Dallas and await the Washington Commanders for their first of two matchups on the season. This may also be the game where Dak Prescott returns under center after missing time due to a thumb injury. As for the Giants, they'll wrap up their three-game home stand when they host the Chicago Bears. 

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Daniel Jones had been asking for a pick for a while. Giants QB has played a tough ballgame and kept New York in the mix, but Trevon Diggs nearly jumped his target's route on multiple occasions, and he finally did it there to seal Dallas' victory. G-Men could never push the ball downfield with sustained success, and they needed to there. Instead, the Cowboys come up with a turnover, Diggs finally gets his first INT of the year, and New York is about to get its first "L" of the Brian Daboll era.

September 27, 2022, 3:25 AM
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@Giants via Twitter
September 27, 2022, 3:09 AM
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A field goal makes it 23-13 Dallas and gives the Cowboys their largest lead of the game.

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Brett Maher kicks one through the uprights again, this time after a short three-and-out, and the Cowboys are up 10 points with under six minutes to play. Giants have held the ball for just seven total plays on their two drives since going the distance. Dallas starting to pull away after refusing to do so for much of the contest. Now let's see what Brian Daboll has up his sleeve with the Giants' perfect early-season record in danger.

September 27, 2022, 3:00 AM
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Really impressive stuff from Cooper Rush and CeeDee Lamb during this critical Cowboys drive. Rush has been throwing nice touch passes all night; now he's finally got his weapons matching his efforts with their hands. Lamb hangs tough on a short third-down strike despite taking a shot, then gets wide open downfield to put Dallas deep in the red zone, then makes a one-handed toe-drag catch for the go-ahead score. Huge drive, huge finish for the QB1-WR1 duo, and America's Team is up 19-13 with a half a quarter to go.

September 27, 2022, 2:48 AM
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In a game as close as this one, teams often have to take risks and "play to win the game" as Herm Edwards famously said. I like the Cowboys going for it here on fourth-and-four.

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