Here are Jean-Jacques Taylor’s grades from the Cowboys' 37-34 win over the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium on Sunday...
Run offenseEzekiel Elliott understood he was going to have a bigger role with Dak Prescott out, and he ran with a fury in the second half. He ripped through several arm tackles on his 12-yard touchdown run after Prescott was injured and threw up four fingers. He gained a season-high 91 yards on 19 carries, the first time since Week 2 he’s had more than 14 carries. Elliott carried nine times for 38 yards 10 times on a key touchdown drive in the second quarter that pulled Dallas within 17-10.
Pass offenseYou have to give Andy Dalton credit for coming into a game under the most difficult of circumstances — Prescott left with a broken ankle — and completing 9 of 11 passes for 111 yards to set up the game-winning field goal as time expired. He completed a couple of beautiful passes to Michael Gallup for gains of 19 and 38 yards, respectively, on the final drive. Those plays made us forget the interception returned for a touchdown Prescott threw in the first quarter.
Run defenseThe Cowboys did a solid job against the run, holding New York to 89 yards on 27 carries. Only one run went more than 10 yards. Devonta Freeman finished with 60 yards on 17 carries. Jaylon Smith, maligned much of the season, had his best game of the season with 14 tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack.
Pass defenseIt’s amazing what happens when you play with a lead for one of just a few times this season. The Cowboys actually managed to create a consistent pass rush on New York quarterback Daniel Jones, sacking him twice and harassing him often. He passed for 222 yards but did not throw a TD pass. It was hardly a perfect performance but the Cowboys limited the big plays and that kept the Giants from scoring even more points.
The defense had a few good moments, especially in the fourth quarter, but defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s unit remains shady. There were still busted coverages and poor penalties and they allowed the Giants to convert 7 of 13 third downs, but they stopped New York when it mattered most. Play caller Kellen Moore did a nice job of getting Elliott involved on a 14-play touchdown drive in the second quarter and he didn’t get conservative when Andy Dalton replaced Prescott. And don’t forget, the Cedrick Wilson touchdown pass to Prescott.
OverallThe Cowboys have won two games — and it feels like they should’ve lost each one. They fell behind as usual, this time by 14 points in the second quarter, but as usual they fought back. They committed a pair of turnovers, they’re the worst in the league at giving the ball away, and they failed to get any turnovers. Again. Still, they found a way to win and that’s hard to do in the NFL.