3 Major takeaways as Cowboys exploit the Giants and move forward

The New York Giants have got to be tired of playing the Dallas Cowboys. After a 40-0 blowout to open the year, Dallas almost dropped 50 on their heads this time, beating them down to the tune of 49-17. This was a “get right game,” with the team cleaning up plenty of issues coming off a loss in Philadelphia.

The Dallas defense held the Giants to 172 total yards, taking down their QB five times for sacks, grabbing an interception, and holding them to 0-for-12 on third-down attempts. The offense was also in full force, with two receivers going over 150 yards and each scoring touchdowns. In fact six players scored in all, and the Cowboys outgained New York by 468 yards—the largest differential in the NFL in 44 years.

The media and some of the fanbase likely downplay this victory because the team lost to the San Francisco 49ers (badly) and the Philadelphia Eagles, so beating the Giants isn’t seen as an important event. That is a narrative the team must ignore altogether. Dallas is trying to improve their play as the season rolls on. They did that in this matchup, and the team can take plenty of positives from this win. Here are some of the essential items coming out of Week 10.

The Cowboys attacked using weapons that hadn't gotten off to a hot start

Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys have had issues this year getting the ball to playmakers not named CeeDee Lamb, Tony Pollard, or Jake Ferguson. WR Brandin Cooks has been a production machine everywhere he has played, but in Dallas, he had only accumulated 165 yards and two touchdowns through eight games. RB Rico Dowdle had 133 yards as Pollard’s backup and hadn’t scored on the ground.

The Cowboys used this matchup to make sure they focused on key players who were looking to breakout in the offense. Cooks got the ball on the first play of the game on his way to nine receptions on ten targets for 173 yards and a TD. Cooks was able to double up his season total of receiving yards in a single game, and the hope for the team is that this begins a trend for him.

Dowdle had averaged 3.8 yards per carry and the team wasn’t getting him enough touches (under five per game) to make an impact. In this contest he set the pace with 12 carries for 79 yards and a score. It isn’t over the top numbers, but when a rusher averages over six yards an attempt on double digit attempts, it’s a big game. If Pollard is going to be kept fresh throughout the year and ready for a playoff run, then Dowdle’s production must remain at this level.

Michael Gallup might be the biggest key to the breakout guys. Cooks has been successful too long for him to lose confidence and Dowdle hasn’t done enough in the league, but Gallup is a former 1,000-yard, six touchdown receiver, and he hasn’t gotten going yet thus far. The team needs him going forward so hitting two long pass plays that averaged 35 yards is incredibly important to the overall offense. Especially as one was a touchdown grab.

Even rookie Jalen Brooks saw his first career targets and caught all four of them for 39 yards.

If the Cowboys want to contend with the 49ers and the Eagles the team needs threats everywhere. They need to be able to send so many layers of offense production that a defense can’t key on one or two players. That is how the game opens up.

Lamb is having an MVP level stretch currently

Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

After a record-setting performance Lamb said, “I’m the top receiver in this game, and it’s no question about it.” Other guys like Tyreek Hill, Justin Jefferson, A.J. Brown, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, or Ja’Marr Chase might disagree, but what is unquestioned is Lamb is playing the best at the position currently.

Since he spoke up after the game against the San Francisco 49ers, Lamb put up 7 catches for 117 yards in a win in Los Angeles. He had 12 grabs for 158 yards and two touchdowns against a Rams secondary that had been excellent keeping receivers from having big games. In the loss to the Eagles, Lamb hauled in 11 balls for 191 yards. In this game against the Giants he clocked in with another 11 catches for 151 yards and another TD. He even added a 14-yard rushing score.

Over the last four games Lamb has 41 receptions for 620 yards and three receiving TDs. He had 22 explosive plays in that time, has completed six of seven attempts on contested catches, and has forced six missed tackles.

Lamb is the first receiver in NFL history to put up ten receptions and 150 yards in three straight games.

Lamb has forever cemented himself as a Tier 1 guy in the Dallas 88 club. He will have to continue this trend for the offense of the Cowboys to keep pulling their share on this team. It isn’t a coincidence that the offense has drastically improved as his production has.

The Cowboys are starting to develop an identity

Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Early on this season the Cowboys were searching for an identity. The talk all off-season was about running the ball, controlling the clock, and leaning on the defense to win games for them. Once the team tried to play that way in San Francisco, they found out it might not be possible with the roster they have. Since then, the team has settled in on a way they win.

It all begins with their quarterback Dak Prescott. Two things have become clear, using his mobility is a necessity, and targeted Lamb a minimum of seven times is incredibly important. These two keys allow Dallas to control the game with their offense instead of just leaning on their defense. It has made them a more complete team.

The other thing that is clear about the Cowboys in the 2023 season is that they have turned themselves into a powerhouse at home. When people think of great home field advantages, they probably think of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Seattle Seahawks, or the Baltimore Ravens, but Dallas has now won 12 straight home games and many of them aren’t even competitive.

In Week 2 the Cowboys wiped out a New York Jets team that has victories over the Buffalo Bills and the Eagles this season. They demolished the New England Patriots, giving legendary coach Bill Belichick the worst defeat of his career. Their last two home wins have been by a combined score of 92-37. The Cowboys win their home games, and that makes getting home-field advantage a possible game changer.

Dallas has an identity. Be dominant at home, play great defense, and lean on Prescott and Lamb offensively. If they can make this work against top opponents, it could be their road to finally breaking through.

You can find Mike Crum on Twitter @cdpiglet or YouTube on the Across the Cowboys Podcast.

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Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire