FRISCO, Texas – As always, I'll have a more detailed review when I'm able to study this game more closely.
For now, here's a handful of notes on what I was able to observe from this 20-13 win to get the Cowboys into the win column.
· We can all talk about the bomb that Tavon Austin caught to start the game or the reverse that he ran for big yards, but my favorite play was the double-move comeback that he executed against Janoris Jenkins later in the ball game. Dak Prescott did an outstanding job holding the safety in the middle of the field, which allowed Austin to work on the outside. Geoff Swaim did a nice job of staying in to block, which gave Prescott just enough time to fire a strike to Austin, who made the reception head-high.
· Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith attacked the "A" gap strong to allow Taco Charlton to get his sack. Jonathan Stewart had no choice but to step up and take on Lee. Smith's pressure forced Nate Solder and Will Hernandez to struggle with their assignments, which left Charlton all alone on the edge. Once Eli Manning spun to him to avoid the pressure, that's all he needed to bring him down.
· Tremendous job by Ezekiel Elliott to concentrate and not be affected by Landon Collins blitzing on the reverse to Tavon Austin. Elliott was calmly able to transfer the ball to Austin with Collins right in his face. Give Austin some credit, as well, for taking his path wide enough so Collins couldn't make the tackle. Austin picked up blocks down the field by Joe Looney and Tyron Smith to complete the run.
· Another missed assignment by Will Hernandez allowed Damien Wilson a free run at Eli Manning. Hernandez tried to help inside on the blitzing Jaylon Smith, which opened up the outside to allow Wilson to explode off his outside. Hernandez was never known as a quick-footed blocker, and when he over committed to the inside that was all the speedy Wilson needed to capture Manning in the pocket. That created the sack/fumble, which the offense turned into points.
· Nifty ball handling by Dak Prescott to fool Connor Barwin into coming inside, allowing him the space to get around the corner on the first read-option of the game. Barwin believed that Ezekiel Elliott had the ball and was attacking him in a hurry. Prescott picked up a nice block from Geoff Swaim down the field on Landon Collins to allow him extra yardage.
· Powerful move by Dorance Armstrong to drive Rhett Ellison back into Saquon Barkley to make him have to take the ball wide instead of up inside. Once Barkley was strung out, it was Chidobe Awuzie and Kavon Frazier there to clean up the play. Armstrong was known more as a pass rusher in college, but he is starting to show those traits of a good run defender, as well.
· Veteran move by Zack Martin to take some shots into the body of Damon Harrison when he was rushing the passer. There were several snaps where Martin would pass off his man to La'el Collins and then would come across the pocket and lower his head into the ribs of Harrison while Joe Looney was holding him along the line of scrimmage.
· Usually it's Tyrone Crawford that's setting up pressure for his teammates, but Taco Charlton returned the favor for Crawford in his picking off Will Hernandez for the sack. The Giants tried to man the twist stunt, which played right into the Cowboys' hands. Crawford was able to loop all the way around both Maliek Collins and Charlton, who drove so hard to the inside that when Hernandez tried to adjust back to the outside there was just no way he could do it.
· After practice on Friday, Dak Prescott and Rico Gathers hung around on the field and worked on red zone routes. It almost paid off with Gathers shaking loose from B.J. Goodson, but Prescott threw it just a bit too far. I thought there might have been some initial pressure inside with Ezekiel Elliott on the blitz pickup with Alec Olgetree, but he had enough time to the make the throw. Prescott just let the ball go too high instead of putting it more on the line where Gathers could have run underneath it. It was a missed opportunity for a big play.
· Tavon Austin had his big reception down the field, but rookie Michael Gallup almost had one of his own. It was the same play call as Austin, just flipped to the other side of the field. Geoff Swaim stayed in to block and he picked up Ray Ray Armstrong on the blitz, which allowed Prescott to get rid of the ball. Gallup was able to separate from Eli Apple at the top of the route and if Prescott could have led him just a little bit more to the inside it would have been six points.
· Tip of the cap to Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie for the way that they were able to battle these Giants receivers all night and not give up any huge, back-breaking plays. When you blitz as much as Rod Marineli and Kris Richard did in that game, you're playing a ton of man-for-man coverage. To hold up as well as they did just goes to show you the confidence that the staff has in their ability to cover some of the most explosive receivers in the league and not give up a thing.
· was really surprised that the offensive staff didn't try to attack B.W. Webb more in this game with Cole Beasley. They did go Webb's direction on third down by running Beasley to the outside and then angling him quickly back to the inside. Webb had no choice but to grab Beasley in order to keep him from the reception. Prescott had clean look in the pocket and would have likely had a completion if Webb had not interfered on the play.