This is going to be fun.
After much speculation over the offseason about what kind of offense Kellen Moore would bring to the Cowboys, the first-year coordinator showed more schemes, more movement and generally more innovation. The result was an impressive 35-17 season-opening victory over the rival New York Giants.
The beneficiary of all this wide-open action, of course, was Dak Prescott. The quarterback set a team record for most passing yards in a season opener, his 405 yards the second-highest total of his career. He also tied his personal-best with four touchdown passes and didn’t turn the ball over once, finishing with a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
In doing so, Prescott was masterful at spreading the ball around, connecting with seven different receivers. Michael Gallup got his second year off to a hot start as he corralled seven catches for a career-high 158 receiving yards with Amari Cooper joining him in the century club with 106 yards off of six catches. In all, five players had at least three grabs.
With that kind of firepower, the Cowboys finished with 494 yards of total offense and converted 60 percent of their third-down opportunities. Conversely, the Giants converted on 18 percent of their third-down tries, although they did total 470 yards of total offense.
Things didn’t exactly get off to a great start for the Cowboys as the defense was a step behind on the Giant’s first possession. New York’s star running back Saquon Barkley did most of the damage, breaking loose for a huge 59-yard gain with veteran quarterback Eli Manning then pushing his team to the end zone, a 1-yard pass to tight end Evan Engram providing the opening points of the game, 7-0.
From that point on, however, the Dallas defense showed just how dangerous it could be this year. After New York picked up 91 yards on its first series, the visitors were held to only 90 more over the rest of the first half. And Barkley’s 59-yard scamper was followed by just 61 more yards on the ground over the rest of the game.
Meanwhile, on the offensive side of the ball, the Cowboys responded to the early deficit with 21 unanswered points over the remainder of the first half. All three touchdowns came courtesy of Prescott’s arm with a different target hauling in each scoring pass.
The tight ends, young and old, got Dallas on the board to begin with. First, Blake Jarwin capped off an 11-play drive with a 28-yard touchdown catch right down the seam. That was then followed by ageless veteran Jason Witten making his move from the television both complete with a 4-yard scoring grab on the team’s next possession.
That advantage was increased to 21-7 at halftime when Prescott dropped a honey of a pass into the arms of a streaking Cooper for a 21-yard touchdown with 1:19 remaining in the second quarter.
While the Giants opened the third quarter with a 28-yard field goal, the Cowboys picked up right where they left off, scoring on each of their first two possessions of the second half. And they kept the trend going with two different players providing these scores.
The first came when Prescott found a wide-open Randall Cobb for a 25-yard touchdown, this after he connected with Cooper for a big 45-yard gain to get things going. That was then followed by Elliott making sure the ground game wasn’t forgotten, the running back carrying the ball five times during the seven-play drive, the last a 10-yard dart off left tackle to the end zone to give Dallas a 35-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Of course, even that drive benefited from a 62-yard catch and run from Gallup, Prescott and his arsenal of receivers continuing to pick apart the Giants secondary.
With that, however, the Cowboys were content to run out the clock, several of the starters sitting out the team’s remaining two series. Rookie Tony Pollard handled the bulk of the load over the offense’s final minutes, but the sledding was tough, the running back finishing with 24 rushing yards in his NFL debut.
Not that Pollard’s effort or a late Giants touchdown really mattered in the final outcome. The Cowboys sent the sold-out crowd home happy with a season-opening win, and perhaps more importantly, an exciting new offense.