On Sunday night, the Dallas Cowboys sacked Eli Manning six times and showed some life on offense in a 20-13 victory over the New York Giants.
The Dallas defense was strong again, just as in an opening loss at Carolina, as the Cowboys (1-1) avoided their first 0-2 start in seven seasons under coach Jason Garrett. More importantly, avoided the dreaded odds of making the playoffs when starting a season 0-2.
As of right now, the Cowboys sit in first place in the NFC East. Yeah, after all that doom and gloom after week one and leading up to week two, we’re somehow able to say that. Here are takeaways from the statement win on Sunday night:
Quick start with some creativity
The Dallas offense came out firing early and often on Sunday night. Where we expected the same, conservative unoriginal play calling, Scott Linehan and company pleasantly surprised us with some creativity and explosiveness right out of the gate. Dak Prescott hit Tavon Austin for a 64-yard touchdown on the third play of the game. It got the crowd into the game early, and let the pass rushers pin their ears back as early as possible to get to Eli Manning (which we’ll discuss below).
Angry Dak and his legs
We all know what went down in the week leading up to Sunday night. Giants safety Landon Collins essentially called out Dak by saying all the Giants need to do is keep the ball in his hands and make him throw to have a good chance to win. “Challenge accepted” said Dak, and he meant it. Along with the long touchdown to open the game and his 160 yards through the air, the Dallas QB added 45 yards on the ground. Dak looked angry when he was running too, like he was trying to prove a point to the Giants defense. He even got in Collins ear after lowering the shoulder on him during one of those runs. Many of the rushing yards came through the read-option, which Cowboy nation has been calling for in the play calling for months now. And hey, Linehan, newsflash: it works! Having the option opened things up for Dak in the passing game too. It could be the missing ingredient that the offense needs this year.
Tavon Austin! A play maker on the outside!
Finally, the world got a peek into what Tavon Austin might be for 2018. Going back to the 64-yard TD to open the game, Tavon Austin provided that unexpected playmaking ability that the organization had hyped up before week one. Instead of providing clarity on how Austin would be utilized, the staff preached that he would be a receiver, and then the next week said he’d be used as a ‘web back’ out of the backfield. Uh, ok? After the TD, Dallas proceeded to pull back for whatever reason, Austin disappearing for the second and third quarters before re-emerging in the fourth, going on to finish with two receptions for 79 yards to go along with one carry for 15 yards. 94 all-purpose yards and a touchdown for Tavon Austin, on six touches. Six touches seems a bit low to me. I don’t think the guy needs 20 touches, but I’m thinking 10-12 sounds like a sweet spot. Dak & Tavon do need to be a weekly feature in the run game as well, while the passing game sorts itself out.
Sacks on Sacks
It was so refreshing to see the Cowboys get back to doing some blitzing, and getting to the quarterback even more so. Eli Manning was seeing a ton of turf, as he was sacked six times. All six of those sacks came from different players with Taco Charlton, Kavon Frazier, Damien Wilson, Tyrone Crawford, Demarcus Lawrence and Antwaun Woods all tallying one on the night. Jaylon Smith leveled Eli with “hit-stick” like hit you really only see in Madden, but it wasn’t recorded as a sack. At the end of the day, Eli had no room to breathe all night, which was the root of the Giants not being able to move the ball for pretty much all of the game. Dallas’ front seven is licking their chops thinking of the week three match up in Seattle where their sure to be chasing around Russell Wilson a lot.
Demarcus Lawrence post game: “We can’t sit back and be satisfied off sacking Eli, we’ve got to go do it again next week and go sack Russell.”
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