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5 takeaways from Cowboys-Giants: Cooper Rush keeps winning as Dallas’ run game returns

Dallas Morning News logo Dallas Morning News 10/4/2022 Calvin Watkins, The Dallas Morning News

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Cowboys spoiled the Giants’ Ring of Honor night at MetLife Stadium.

It’s fine, the Giants haven’t been good in some time. Yet, after a 2-0 start, some fans in the New York/New Jersey area had hopes.

Hello, Cooper Rush. Hello, Cowboys’ run game. Hello, CeeDee Lamb. Hello, DeMarcus Lawrence. Hello, Donovan Wilson.

Dallas 23, New York Giants 16.

The Cowboys are now 2-0 without Dak Prescott thanks to the steady play of Rush, his backup. And after a poor game calling the plays in Week 1, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has found a groove. He called a wonderful game and the Cowboys played a gritty contest where they took control in the fourth quarter.

Here are five things of note from Cowboys-Giants:

Run game returns

It seems as if the Cowboys’ run game has returned. Or at least made its debut in 2022. Tony Pollard rushed for 105 yards on 13 carries. Ezekiel Elliott had 73 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown. It was a physical running attack as Moore showed confidence in his running backs to take charge of the offense when needed, especially in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys even rotated the left guard position between Jason Peters and Matt Farniok. The first play with Peters in the game, Pollard dazzled with a 46-yard run as he darted between Peters and Tyler Smith, the left tackle. Overall, the Cowboys’ running attack gained 176 yards.

Lamb breaks out

CeeDee Lamb, the Cowboys’ lead receiver, struggled in the first half with two drops. The second half changed for him.

When the night was over, Lamb finished with 8 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown, a beautiful one-handed catch near the corner of the end zone where he got both feet inbounds. It gave Dallas the lead for good. On the previous play, Lamb made a 26-yard reception down to the Giants’ 1, almost getting in the end zone when he tried to run over a defender.

After he produced a strong game in the Week 2 victory over Cincinnati with seven catches for 75 yards, Lamb dropped two passes in the second quarter Monday night.

Lamb had a deep pass from quarterback Cooper Rush bounce off his hands at the Giants 19 that would have been a long gain. Lamb also had another drop on a third-down play. If Lamb had caught the pass it would have netted a small gain with several Giants defenders near him. But the Cowboys could have attempted a field goal if Lamb had picked up some yardage.

Rush is 3-0

Jerry Jones, the Cowboys’ owner and general manager, was half joking (we think) about not minding a quarterback controversy between Rush and Prescott.

Well, Rush is eventually going to sit when Prescott recovers from a fractured right thumb. But Rush is 3-0 as a starting quarterback, beating Minnesota last year, Cincinnati and now the New York Giants this season.

The numbers are not magical but Rush led an 11-play, 89-yard drive that took six minutes and 12 seconds off the clock in the fourth quarter that gave the Cowboys a 20-13 lead.

Rush has received praise for his calmness in the pocket and just pushing this team.

His pass on a fade to Lamb for the game-breaking score was perfect. Rush completed 21 of 31 passes for 215 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He led the Cowboys on two scoring drives of at least 10 or more plays.

So the NFC East is ...

The Eagles are in sole possession of first place in the division. The Giants had their chance to be there; a victory over a Cowboys team playing with a backup quarterback would have been beneficial.

Now? Dallas is tied with New York for second place in the division with the tiebreaker edge. When the Cowboys lost Prescott, it was assumed the best the Cowboys could do was split the possible four games he was likely to miss.

Well, Dallas is 2-0 without Prescott and has a winnable game this weekend against Washington (1-2).

Feisty defense

For the majority of his career, linebacker/defensive end Micah Parsons will be compared to Lawrence Taylor, the Giants Hall of Fame defensive end, whenever the Cowboys visit New York.

Well, Parsons didn’t have a sack Monday but he was a force.

He battled double teams and played defensive end again, not as much as Week 2, and drew lots of attention from the Giants. Parsons had two quarterback hits.

Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence tied a career-high with three sacks, the third time that’s occurred in his career. Lawrence is sometimes a forgotten man around here, but his efforts were noticed. Lawrence left the game with a foot injury but returned.

Cornerback Trevon Diggs sealed the game with a diving interception with 1:11 left. He almost had a pick 6 earlier in the game.

Safety Donovan Wilson had a sack and a vicious hit on Giants quarterback Daniel Jones on a blitz.

If there was any negative about the Cowboys’ defense it was their inability to slow down Jones’ scrambles.

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Find more Cowboys coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

©2022 The Dallas Morning News. Visit dallasnews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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