Excerpt: Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott threw for 257 yards and three touchdowns and Ezekiel Elliott added 139 yards on 23 carries to lead the Cowboys in a convincing 37-18 win over the New York Giants on Monday Night.
If there was ever an ominous sign for this 2019 New York Giants football team, this was it.
With 5:41 remaining in the first half and the Giants up 9-3, a black cat ran across the field causing a raucous from the players, the fans at Metlife Stadium, and the millions of viewers across the world watching the game on TV.
While many believed it would be bad luck for the visiting Dallas Cowboys, it would be the complete opposite.
Following the post-cat situation, the Cowboys outscored the Giants 34-9 in the remaining 35 minutes of play and handed the Giants its fifth consecutive loss on the season and it’s sixth straight defeat to the Cowboys dating back to 2017.
Here’s my takeaway from key players performances in this week nine matchup at the Meadowlands.
QB Dak Prescott
Things couldn’t start any worse for then they did for Prescott. On the team’s opening play, Prescott threw an interception right into the stomach of Giants defender Antoine Bethea setting up the G-Men in great field position at the Dallas eight-yard line. Fortunately enough for Prescott and the Cowboys, the damage was limited as the Giants only settled for three points. Dak showed the bye week rust early on as he started out a mere 5-for-10 passing.
If anyone benefited from the cat incident the most, it was Dak. Following the feline running on the field, Prescott went 173 yards passing, three touchdowns, and zero turnovers for the rest of the night. While it wasn’t his best offensive output by any means, Prescott made the throws he needed to like finding TE Blake Jarwin 42 yard touchdown catch and run to cut the Giants lead to 12-10 or late in the game finding WR Amari Cooper over the middle for a 45 yard touchdown to essentially put the game out of reach at 30-18 with less than eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
This performance showed that as long as Prescott can limit his mistakes, the team can succeed with playmakers at RB and WR and a young, talented defense that can lead them to the playoffs with Dak under center.
RB Ezekiel Elliott
Coming into this matchup, we knew Elliott, who is one of the best young RB in football, was likely bound to have a successful night against a Giants run defense that came into the matchup ranked bottom 10 in the league at stopping the run allowing a whopping 122.4 yards per game and 10 touchdowns so far this season.
On Monday night, it was no different.
While Zeke didn’t cross the pylon in this game, he dominated from start to finish. Elliott carried the ball 23 times and finished with a season-high 139 rushing yards. Everytime Zeke touched the ball it seemed as if he was not getting tackled let alone touched until he got to the second line of defense on most carries. In fact, only two of Elliott’s 23 carries went for negative yardage. It was the fifth time this season that Elliott has gone over the 100-yard mark on the ground. This performance was much better by Elliott than in the week one matchup against the Giants where he only amassed 13 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown.
In order to make the playoffs and potentially win the division, Zeke will continue to be the bell cow for this offense with crucial matchups against divisional opponents and teams like the Bears, Patriots, and Vikings all in the coming weeks.
QB Daniel Jones
There’s no New York Giant looking more forward to the bye week that’s in two weeks than QB Daniel Jones. Jones, after starting hot winning in his first two games in place of QB Eli Manning in weeks three and four against the Buccaneers and Redskins, has struggled mightily over the team’s last five losses. Per Jordan Raanan of ESPN, Jones is tied with Bucs QB Jameis Winston for the NFL lead with 16 turnovers while playing two fewer games than Winston this season. Jones has fumbled exactly eight times while also throwing eight interceptions as well.
This problem continued on MNF as he threw an INT and put the ball on the ground twice with the Cowboys recovering it both times. Jones was also sacked five times and has been sacked a staggering 26 times over the seven game stretch. Barring an injury, the team will stick with Jones not go back to Manning for the rest of this season no matter if they lose out the rest of the way. While every rookie QB faces their up-and-downs of the rookie campaign, Jones has definitely seen more downs than ups seven games into his inaugural season.
RB Saquon Barkley
It appears that RB Saquon Barkley is human after all. After a jaw dropping 2,000 total scrimmage yards and 15 totals TDs his rookie season, it’s been a much different first half of the year for the sensational RB. After going over 100-plus yards in the first two weeks, Barkley suffered a high-ankle sprain early on in the week three win against the Bucs. The original timetable for the injury was 4-8 weeks with the team hoping for the best. However, Barkley proved to be defy the odds and returned at the earliest possible date a month later against the Cardinals.
In the three games (including Monday night) since his return, Barkley has not looked the same. It continued against the Cowboys by only rushing for 28 yards on 14 attempts. While he did catch a screen pass and took it 65 yards down the field, Barkley’s other five catches only went for a meaningless two yards. It’s the third straight game Barkley has failed to reach 75+ yards rushing, his longest such stretch since his rookie season from weeks seven, eight, and ten in 2018. While Barkley went on to finish with 100+ yards rushing in six of the final eight games last season, it’s very unlikely he’ll be able to do that this season. You almost have to wonder if Barkley came back too early from the injury and is the reason he has not been himself since returning.
There’s also the question of now do you sit Barkley the rest of the season? With the loss on Monday night, the Giants are now 2-7 and going nowhere fast in 2019. With the life of a premiere running back in the NFL is considerably shorter than other positions, you have to wonder if head coach Pat Shurmur and the Giants front office starts thinking of this possibility or potentially come to an agreement after the team’s week 11 bye. While Barkley might scoff at the idea, it might be the best solution for Barkley and the team going forward in a much disappointed and wasted 2019 season up to this point.