Can you feel sorry for an NFC East rival? Should that be allowed?
The Dallas Cowboys already came into their matchup against the New York Giants as the better team on paper, but when an already banged up Giants squad then lost quarterback Daniel Jones, running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Kenny Gollady to injury, the task for the visitors seemed a tough one, to say the least.
And although New York was certainly up for the fight – this is the NFC East, after all – in the end the Cowboys dominated their rivals, securing a 44-20 victory and improving their record to a division-leading 4-1.
Injuries or not, the Giants really had no answer for the Dallas offense as Dak Prescott and company racked up 515 total yards. After suffering that gruesome dislocated ankle injury against New York almost exactly one year ago, the quarterback continued his outstanding comeback campaign by throwing for 302 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a 116.9 passer rating.
Three different targets – CeeDee Lamb (84), Dalton Schultz (79) and Amari Cooper (60) – earned at least 60 receiving yards with Lamb and Cooper also adding touchdowns. In all, seven different players caught a pass in the Cowboys' multi-faceted attack.
Meanwhile, on the ground, Ezekiel Elliott ripped off 110 rushing yards, his second straight game topping the century mark, while also scoring both rushing and receiving touchdowns. Tony Pollard added 75 rushing yards to the effort as well.
On the other side of the ball, Dallas' opportunistic defense again recorded a pair of turnovers with interceptions by Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown. Diggs became only the second player in team history to record a pick in each of the first five games of a season, joining Don Bishop in 1961. He is also now just the third player in the NFL's Super Bowl era (since 1966) to post interceptions in each of his team's first five contests.
The Cowboys stumbled somewhat out of the gate with a Prescott interception on their first possession giving the Giants the ball at their own 49-yard line. But the visitors did a little stumbling of their own as the Dallas defense forced a 54-yard field goal attempt, which sailed wide right. The Cowboys then came right back on its second series and moved 44 yards in 10 plays to set Greg Zuerlein up for a 31-yard field goal that was good.
Perhaps even worse for the Giants, star running back Saquon Barkley badly rolled his ankle on that initial possession after stepping on the foot of cornerback Jourdan Lewis. Barkley would not return, lost for the game.
Dallas was knocking on the door to its first touchdown of the day when on second and goal from the Giants' 5-yard line, Prescott mishandled a snap. Linebacker Reggie Ragland was there to pounce on it for the New Yorkers, ending the Cowboys' threat.
But after one quarter, the home side already had 104 rushing yards with five different players recording at least one carry.
It seemed just a matter of time – finally Dallas reached the end zone. And it only took four plays. That's because Prescott threw a perfect pass to a streaking Lamb, who caught the ball just behind two Giants' defenders and raced untouched into the end zone for the 49-yard score and a 10-0 lead.
Unfortunately, New York was finally ready to get some points of its own and after their next two possessions, the Giants had tied the game. It started with a 51-yard field goal by Graham Gano and was followed by a lengthy 12-play, 88-yard drive that resulted in a 1-yard dive from running back Devontae Booker for the equalizing touchdown.
It came at a cost, though. On the play before the score, quarterback Daniel Jones tried to reach the end zone running alone around the left end. But rookies Jabril Cox and Chauncey Golston beat him to the pylon for the stop. In the process, though, Jones suffered a concussion and he, too, was done for the remainder of the game.
Those events left just under three minutes in the half, which was more than enough time for Prescott to execute the no-huddle offense to perfection. It took eight plays to go the 75 yards, but the quarterback needed only 2:15 of clock to reach the end zone. That came courtesy of a laser strike to Amari Cooper for the 24-yard completion and score and a 17-10 lead at the break.
The Cowboys came into this game ranked fourth in the NFL with an average of 9.2 points scored in the third quarter, a trend that they continued in this one as they added another 10.
With Giants starting wide receiver Kenny Golladay having to leave the game as well with a knee injury, the Giants opened the second half with another 51-yard field goal by Gano. But the Cowboys responded with seven points of their own to up the advantage, the team marching 75 yards down the field in 10 plays.
The big blow came on third-and-6 at the Dallas 40-yard line when Prescott scrambled to his right to avoid the rush before firing a dart to tight end Dalton Schultz for the 30-yard completion. The series wrapped up with a beautiful play-call that saw Prescott fake a pitch to Elliott, look off the defense and then throw a short pass back to the wide-open running back on the right side for the easy score.
And then Trevon Diggs continued his unbelievable streak, picking off a Mike Glennon deep ball for his sixth interception of the year. Dallas hurt themselves with penalties on the ensuing possession, but at least the turnover led to another three points. Zuerlein was good from 38 yards to up the score to 27-13 heading into the final quarter.
The Giants went on the move as the clocked ticked over into the fourth frame, threatening with a first-and-goal at the Dallas 7-yard line. But while the Cowboys defense may have bent, it did not break. On fourth down at the 2-yard line, Glennon's pass to Kadarius Toney fell incomplete after the receiver slipped and fell coming out of his break.
With that the game was all but over.
Dallas wasn't through, though. The offense went the distance, 98 yards in nine plays to pay dirt. A trick play saw wideout Cedrick Wilson connect with position-mate Noah Brown for a 22-yard completion before Wilson then caught one himself deep down the left sideline for another 35. Elliott would get the scoring honors, running around the right end 13 yards for his second touchdown of the game.
In typical NFC East fashion, the game got a little chippy at the end with the Giants' Toney and Dallas safety Damontae Kazee both receiving unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, which resulted in Toney being ejected for throwing a punch. That came during a possession that eventually led to a New York touchdown. Glennon kept his team on track and capped off the 11-play, 75-yard drive with a 3-yard dump off to Booker, who dove for the end zone for the score.
Of course, it was too little, too late. The Cowboys recovered the ensuing onside kick and added another Zuerlein field goal, this from 31 yards, leaving just 1:57 left in the game.
Which was enough time for cornerback Anthony Brown to pick off a Glennon pass intended for receiver Collin Johnson and race untouched down the left sideline 45 yards for the first pick-six of his career.
Bringing to an end another standout performance for the Cowboys, and again affirming that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season.