EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Filling in for an injured Dak Prescott and making consecutive starts for the first time in his career, Cooper Rush led the Dallas Cowboys to a 23-16 win against the New York Giants on Monday. He was assisted by a fierce pass rush that sacked QB Daniel Jones five times and pressured him 24 times.
When the Cowboys needed Rush the most in the second half, he was at his best. After the Giants took a 13-6 lead in the third quarter, Rush completed 12 of his next 13 passes for 129 yards in leading back-to-back 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 fade to the corner of the end zone, where receiver CeeDee Lamb made a one-handed grab with 8:30 to play. Earlier in the drive, Rush and Lamb converted a key fourth-and-4 and then connected for a 26-yarder to the Giants’ 1-yard line.
Rush’s final numbers weren’t staggering — 21-of-31 for 215 yards and a touchdown — but they were good enough to win. Rush is just 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 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime, making him just 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 pestered Daniel Jones throughout Monday’s game. Everybody knows about Micah Parsons. DeMarcus Lawrence made his presence felt against the Giants with the third three-sack game of his career 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 will be able to drain an offensive line.
Eye-popping Next Gen stat: Lamb was smiling afterward, but a second-quarter drop had to be killing him. If he had held on to the Rush pass on a deep over, he might have scored. Instead he became the first player to drop a wide-open target at least 30 yards down the field this season. He had 6 yards of separation, which made it the fourth drop of its kind since 2020, per NFL Next Gen Stats. But on the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter, Lamb was stellar, converting a fourth-down pass, picking up 26 yards and then making the one-handed TD grab that had fellow No. 88 Dez Bryant fired up in one of the MetLife Stadium suites. — Todd Archer
Underrated statistic 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 blueprint the Giants had used in winning the previous two weeks: Keep the game low-scoring, make enough offensive plays in the second half and squeak out a victory.
Only this time Wink Martindale’s defense did not hold up quite as well. The Giants (2-1) fell from the ranks of the unbeaten. Now, only the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins remain undefeated. Still, New York remains in decent shape with the Chicago Bears on deck next week at MetLife Stadium.
QB breakdown: Jones actually played pretty well, even though his numbers weren’t all that impressive. He finished 20-of-37 passing for 196 yards with no touchdowns and one interception on the final drive after wide receiver David Sills slipped.
The Giants’ best offensive option most of the game was Jones’ legs. Jones had seven rushes for first downs on Monday night, the most by a quarterback this season. Under relentless pressure, he rushed nine times for 79 yards in the contest. He came into Monday night with 16 rushes 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.
Troubling 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 tweaks. But whatever the Giants did this week still didn’t work. The halftime adjustments, however, have been commendable. New York has scored 46 points in the second half of its three games. — Jordan Raanan
Underrated statistic to know: Jones was pressured on 24 dropbacks, running for his life the entire evening. It was the most pressures in his four-year career, the most on a quarterback this season and the second most over the past two seasons. Rookie right tackle Evan Neal had a tough game in pass protection. Neal was beaten by Lawrence for three sacks alone and committed a key false start on the game’s final drive.
Next game: vs. Bears (1 p.m. ET, Oct. 2)