EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — Replacing the injured Dak Prescott and making back-to-back starts for the first time in his career, Cooper Rush led the Dallas Cowboys to a 23-16 victory over the New York Giants on Monday. He was assisted by a ferocious pass rush that sacked quarterback Daniel Jones five times and pressured him 24 times.
When the Cowboys needed Rush most in the second half, he was at his best. After the Giants took a 13-6 third-quarter lead, Rush completed 12 of his next 13 passes for 129 yards on consecutive touchdown drives. The first drive ended with Ezekiel Elliott scoring a touchdown against New York for the fifth straight game to tie it.
The second ended with Rush throwing a perfect fadeout to the corner of the end zone, where wide receiver CeeDee Lamb made a one-handed grab with 8:30 left. Earlier in the drive, Rush and Lamb converted a key fourth-and-4 and then hit a 26-yard pass to the Giants 1-yard line.
Rush’s final numbers weren’t amazing (21 of 31 for 215 yards and a touchdown), but they were good enough to win. Rush is only the third Cowboys quarterback to win his first three career starts. The other two? Jason Garrett, his former head coach and Hall of Famer Roger Staubach. And all three wins have come with fourth-quarter and overtime drive wins, making him only the second quarterback to do so in the Super Bowl era (Virgil Carter).
promising trend: The Cowboys have 13 sacks in three games, which leads the NFL. They chased Daniel Jones throughout the game on Monday. Everyone knows about Micah Parsons. DeMarcus Lawrence made his presence felt against the Giants with his third career three-sack game before suffering a left foot injury. The 13 sacks have come from six defenders. The Cowboys have a varied pass rush that can stay fresh during a game, which can drain an offensive line.
Mind-blowing next-gen stat: Lamb was smiling afterward, but a second-quarter knockdown had to be killing him. If he had held on to the fast pass in a deep over, he could have scored. Instead, he became the first player to drop an open goal at least 30 yards down the field this season. He had 6 yards of separation, making it the fourth such knockdown since 2020, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. But on the fourth-quarter go-ahead drive, Lamb was stellar, converting a pass on fourth down, racking up 26 yards and then making the one-handed TD grab that had fellow No. 88 December Bryant lit up on one of the MetLife Stadium suites. –Todd Archer
Understated Stats to Know: Ezekiel Elliott is the first player in Cowboys history to have a rushing touchdown in five straight games against the Giants.
next game:vs Commanders (1 p.m. ET, Oct. 2)
New York Giants
This was the plan the Giants had used to win the previous two weeks: keep the game low, make enough offensive plays in the second half, and pull out a win.
Only this time Wink Martindale’s defense didn’t hold up as well. The Giants (2-1) dropped from the ranks of the undefeated. Now, only the division rival Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins remain undefeated. Still, New York is staying in good shape with the Chicago Bears on deck next week at MetLife Stadium.
QB Breakdown: Jones actually played pretty well, although his numbers weren’t that impressive. He went 20-for-37 for 196 yards with no touchdowns and an interception on the final drive after wide receiver David Sills slipped.
The Giants’ best offensive option for most of the game was Jones’ legs. Jones had seven runs for first downs Monday night, the most by a quarterback this season. Under relentless pressure, he rushed nine times for 79 yards in the contest. He entered Monday night with 16 runs for 46 yards. To put this in perspective, Jones is on pace for 142 rushing attempts this season. Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts led all quarterbacks with 139 rushing attempts last year.
problem trend: The Giants haven’t scored a touchdown in the first half this season. Three games, nine points in the first half for the Giants. Coach Brian Daboll said last week that they are constantly making adjustments. But whatever the Giants did this week didn’t work either. The halftime adjustments, however, have been commendable. New York scored 46 points in the second half of its three games. — Jordan Raanan
Understated Stats to Know: Jones was pressured on 24 throwbacks, running for his life all night. It was the most pressure in his four-year career, the most by a quarterback this season and the second-most in the past two seasons. Rookie right tackle Evan Neal had a tough game in pass protection. Neal was beaten by Lawrence by just three sacks and committed a key false start on the game’s final drive.
next game: vs. Bears (1 p.m. ET, Oct. 2)