Rising to a direct challenge from the Giants, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott made a big early statement, and the Dallas defense dominated New York in a 20-13 win on Sunday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Prescott launched a 64-yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin on the game’s third play from scrimmage. The former Rams receiver’s first catch as a Cowboy made it 7-0 just 94 seconds into the game, one week after it took Dallas 51:09 to put points on the board in a season-opening loss at Carolina.
The NFC East clash was billed as a prime-time meeting of marquee running backs: Giants rookie Saquon Barkley and Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott. Earlier in the week, New York safety Landon Collins said his team’s best chance of winning was to “put the ball in Dak’s hands.” Prescott replied, “Challenge accepted.”
Prescott completed 16 of 25 passes for 160 yards and added a career-high 45 rushing yards. Elliott carried 17 times for 78 yards and a touchdown.
The Cowboys (1-1) sacked Eli Manning six times and held the Giants (0-2) to 255 yards of offense. It is New York’s fourth 0-2 start in the past five years.
Manning finished 33 of 44 for 279 yards and a touchdown, but he connected only four times with Odell Beckham Jr. for 51 yards. Barkley ran for just 28 yards on 11 carries.
Barkley did break the Giants’ record for receptions by a running back, catching 14 passes for 80 yards. Tiki Barber set the previous mark with 13 catches, also at Dallas, on Jan. 2, 2000.
Dallas extended its lead to 13-0 on a rookie Brett Maher’s first two career field goals, a 37-yarder in the first quarter and a 29-yarder in the third. The latter was set up by Damien Wilson’s strip-sack of Manning on the Giants’ opening possession of the second half, recovered by Taco Charlton.
The Giants punted on all five first-half possessions, gaining just 79 total yards and allowing four sacks. The only plays of note by New York before halftime were Barkley’s eight catches (for 32 yards) and a pair of successful fourth-and-1 sneaks by the 37-year-old Manning.
New York ended the Dallas shutout bid on its seventh possession. A 22-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas capped an 11-play, 66-yard drive and got the Giants within 13-3 with 4:34 left in the third.
The Cowboys answered with a 14-play, 82-yard drive that chewed 8:23 off the clock. Elliott punched it in from 6 yards out, putting Dallas up 20-3 with 5:45 remaining in the game.
With 1:27 left, Manning hit a wide-open Evan Engram in the end zone for an 18-yard score that made it 20-10.
After New York’s Michael Thomas recovered the ensuing onside kick, Rosas kicked a 38-yard field goal to get New York within seven points. Another onside kick went out of bounds with 11 seconds left, and Dallas ran out the clock.
The Giants finished the game without cornerback Eli Apple (groin) and center Jon Halapio, who was fitted with an air cast on his right leg and carted off the field in the third quarter.
—Field Level Media