ARLINGTON -- The opener went so easy for the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon. Dallas knocked off Washington, 35-7, in the season opener at AT&T Stadium. There were a few questions about just what this Cowboys offense was going to be about. Well, Cooper Rush was the quarterback with about three minutes left and the fans were filing out into the hot sun.
With that, we have five observations of the Cowboys-Giants game:
Kellen Moore's offense is...: So how do you like Kellen Moore? It's only one game, just one game, but Sunday afternoon, the new offensive coordinator called a solid game where the Cowboys used three- and four-receiver sets, deep passes to Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, motion with two or three receivers and setting things up with the play action. Yes, all the things fans wanted to see with Scott Linehan last year, but didn't for whatever reason, are happening now. It was just for one game, but it was good to see Dak Prescott find open receivers, including Randall Cobb, Blake Jarwin and Jason Witten, for scores. Prescott used his legs in the run-pass option game, including getting a first down while running behind fullback Jamize Olawale. Prescott finished 25 for 32 for 405 yards with four touchdowns. It was that kind of day for Prescott. He connected with seven different receivers and even threw a fade to Olawale that went incomplete. He made it look easy. Or, was it Moore who made it look easy? The Cowboys had two receivers (Gallup and Cooper) with over 100 yards receiving, a run game that moved well and pass protection that was strong. Dallas gained 496 yards of total offense with a 8.3 average.
Ezekiel Elliott with a quiet day: It was as if Ezekiel Elliott never left. He's normally a slow starter and his longest run in the game was for 8 yards. You could say he had a quiet day until his 10-yard touchdown run with 1:14 left in the third quarter to give the Cowboys a 35-10 lead. It was uncertain how the Cowboys would use Elliott given his 40-day holdout, but those workouts in Cabo San Lucas seemed to work. He didn't share the backfield with Tony Pollard but came out for stretches to give the rookie some snaps. And after Elliott's touchdown, it was Pollard who finished the final 16 minutes of the game. Elliott finished with 13 carries for 53 yards and looked in good shape during the contest.
Slowing down Saquon Barkley: Coming into Sunday's game, Giants running back Saquon Barkley had 12 rushing plays of 25 or more yards and six of 50 or more. He also had five plays of 20 or more yards. The Cowboys were aware of the big play potential of Barkley. On the second offensive play for the Giants, Barkley had a 59-yard run, mainly due to a poor angle taken by safety Jeff Heath. After that play, Barkley didn't have a gain of more than 11 yards that made you worry about him and the Giants stayed away from him for the most part until the game got out of reach. He finished the day with 11 carries for 120 yards and four catches for 19 yards. After that 59-yard run, the Cowboys got hats to the ball carrier which is something defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli wants to see.
The defense makes some plays: With the offense being so explosive, you kind of forget about the defense. On Sunday DeMarcus Lawrence and Leighton Vander Esch had half-a-sack each, there were four quarterback hits and five pass breakups. There was even a strip sack on a fourth down by Lawrence on Eli Manning and Vander Esch forced a fumble on Giants backup quarterback Daniel Jones. Most of the afternoon, the Cowboys defense stayed in a zone, especially on third and long to keep the Giants in front of them and in man coverage did a nice job of staying close when it was necessary.
The Cowboys sit their second-round pick: We could talked about the return of Jason Witten (three catches for 15 yards and one touchdown) but the we’ve decided to focus on someone who didn’t play. Defensive tackle Tyrsten Hill was inactive for the game. He was a healthy scratch which isn’t a surprise, considering Marinelli has been critical of his work at times. Hill, the second-round pick, has made some splash plays, but it’s telling not to see him on the field. So the Cowboys, instead went with Maliek Collins, Kerry Hyder and Tyrone Crawford. It will be interesting to see if Hill uses this sit down as motivation to become active for the Week 2 game at Washington.