The Dallas Cowboys entered Sunday afternoon’s matchup with the New York Giants with a lot more questions than answers. How would rookie Dak Prescott perform in his first NFL start? How would Ezekiel Elliott fare against the newly revamped Giants defense? How would the defense fare against a loaded Giants offense?
The Cowboys found out the answers to all of those questions on Sunday and it resulted in a 20-19 defeat at the hands of their division rivals.
Eli Manning throws for 207 yards and 3 TDs to give Giants the win over the Cowboys. pic.twitter.com/L85gdGjMKT
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 11, 2016
Prescott fared pretty well for his first career start as he completed 25-of-45 passes for 227 yards. Elliott struggled a bit as he only gained 51 yards on 20 carries, but he did score his first career NFL touchdown. The defense actually played pretty well for missing so many pieces, but the offense had to settle for four field goals as opposed to the Giants who scored three touchdowns.
The Cowboys still had an opportunity to set kicker Dan Bailey up for a game-winning, 58-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds, but wide receiver Terrance Williams made the mistake of getting tackled in-bounds on the final play of the game.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Dallas Cowboys’ 20-19 loss at the hands of the New York Giants.
1. Dak Prescott Didn’t Look Like A Rookie
Prescott didn’t turn the ball over at all and did a great job of leading the offense into scoring range. It was a pretty impressive performance from the rookie, and something good for him to build on in Tony Romo’s absence.
2. Dez Bryant Was Nonexistent
How I feel when Dez only has 5 targets and 1 catch for 8 yards. It’s disappointing and frustrating.???? pic.twitter.com/Niuur79cx5
— ✭ Dez: 1-8-0 ✭ (@cowboys_fan09) September 12, 2016
Blame it on whoever you want, but it’s nearly impossible for the Cowboys to win when Dez Bryant finishes with one catch for eight yards. Some experts blamed Bryant, some blamed Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, and some blamed Prescott. Any way you slice it, Bryant needs to have the ball in his hands more often if the Cowboys are going to be successful.
3. Defense Played Much Better Than Expected
With the suspensions of defensive ends Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence, the Cowboys’ defensive line is a no-name group of guys. That being said, the unit played pretty well on Sunday as they limited Eli Manning to 207 passing yards and the Giants to only 20 points. Most weeks, that would be enough to secure a victory, but the Cowboys’ offense let them down.
4. Ezekiel Elliott Must Exhibit More Patience
Elliott only averaged 2.5 yards-per-carry on Sunday despite running behind the best offensive line in football. Part of it had to do with the Giants’ improved defense, but there was also a number of occasions where Elliott didn’t show enough patience in the backfield. Alfred Morris was able to collect 35 yards on only seven carries as he did a better job of allowing the blocks to set up in front of him. It’s something that Elliott will have to learn in order to be successful with the Cowboys.
5. Jason Witten Is Still Mr. Reliable
Witten, along with slot receiver Cole Beasley, played the role of security blanket for Prescott against the Giants. Despite being 34-years-old, Witten hauled in nine passes for 66 yards as he did his best to get open for the fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State.
In the end, the Cowboys had chances to win this game and may look back at a missed opportunity at the end of the season. That being said, there’s still a lot of room for the Dallas Cowboys to improve as they look to win their first game of the season against the Washington Redskins next week.
[Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images]