The Cowboys beat the New York Giants 20-13 on Sunday night at AT&T Stadium to reach .500 and avoid the dreaded 0-2 start. After all, since 2002 only 11 percent of teams that start 0-2 have made the playoffs.
Here are Cowboys’ Insider Jean-Jacques Taylor’s 10 thoughts on the win.
• The Cowboys pass rush was relentless. It recorded six sacks by six different players and it had sacks from all three levels of the defense: line, linebackers and secondary. The Cowboys also hit Eli Manning eight times, including two each by Taco Charlton and DeMarcus Lawrence.
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• New York Giants coach Pat Shurmer did a terrific job of getting the ball to Saquon Barkley, his best offensive player. Barkley caught eight passes for only 32 yards in the first half, but the Giants kept giving him opportunities with the ball in space. He finished with 14 catches for 80 yards and a long of 18. He carried 11 times for 28 yards.
• Odell Beckham Jr., who signed a five-year, $95 million extension last month, caught four passes for 51 yards and no impact. Nine passes were directed his way, and he had a long of 17. Byron Jones and Chido Awuzie did a nice job on him.
• Brett Maher, who missed his only field goal attempt in the Cowboys’ loss to Carolina, made his first attempt - a 37-yarder in the first quarter. Yes, it was an important kick whether anyone wants to publicly admit it. He added a 29-yard kick in the third quarter.
• Damien Wilson, probably the least-respected starter on the team, had a nice game with three tackles, a sack and forced fumble and a pass deflection. He doesn’t get a lot of attention but he does a lot of things well in addition to being a core special teams player.
• Rico Gathers was active for the first time in his career, and the Cowboys tried to get him the ball. But quarterback Dak Prescott missed him twice, including once in the end zone for a potential touchdown that would’ve pushed the lead to 17-0. The Cowboys need play-makers and they think Gathers can make plays, so they’re putting him on the field and giving him a chance.
• Kavon Frazier, normally a core special teams player, has delivered with the playing time he’s getting with Xavier Woods sidelined by a hamstring. He’s always been a hard hitter, but the Cowboys blitzed him and he rewarded them with a sack in addition to his usual physical presence.
• Scott Linehan came out aggressively and the Cowboys gained 136 yards on their first 10 plays. Dak Prescott ran a read option, completed a 64-yards touchdown pass to Tavon Austin, who also had a 15-yard reverse. The Cowboys scored 10 points on their first two possessions, but couldn’t get another touchdown drive to separate.
• Leighton Vander Esch played 28 snaps and recorded seven tackles. He was active and when Sean Lee left the game with cramps, the defense didn’t fall apart. It was a nice step for him.
• Jaylon Smith had a team-high 10 tackles, including one for loss. But he was part of the season Saquon Barkley gained just 28 yards on 11 carries with a long of 10. He says he’s all the way back from the horrific knee injury he suffered in his last game at Notre Dame in his third season with Dallas.