Sunday Night wrap-up: Cowboys pound out another win up front

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The Cowboys might not have made the most exciting play of the night.

But they made enough of the ordinary ones enough times to get by.

Again powered by their offensive line, the Cowboys mauled their way to a 31-28 win over the Giants on Sunday Night Football.

The blockers paved the way for DeMarco Murray to run for 121 yards, the 10th time in 11 games he’s topped 100 yards.

That’s the backbeat of what Dallas has done this year, and the reason they’re 8-3 and stable-looking for a change.

While their image is built on style over substance in past years, they’ve built an offensive line with three first-round picks, and that lends itself to being slump-proof. By locking up left tackle Tyron Smith and using their first-rounder on guard Zack Martin instead of say, Johnny Manziel, the Cowboys have the pieces in place to break out of their perpetual 8-8 rut.

But beyond the rushing yards and physical tone they set, the impressive part was the way that group has protected quarterback Tony Romo. He looked far more comfortable than he did in London, when he was playing with the cracked bones in his back. He stood in the pocket forever late in the game, giving him plenty of time to survey his targets and find them.

That was the difference, as the Giants couldn’t get enough pressure to matter.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. It wasn’t just the catch, even though it might deserve to be known as “The Catch.”

But it’s no accident that once the Giants started figuring out how to harness rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., things started getting better.

His one-handed (actually three-fingered) catch will get all the run on all the highlight shows, and it should. But it’s just part of what Beckham has shown recently, that he could be a star in the making.

The Giants are starting to find multiple ways to get the ball in his hands, which they should, because he’s amazing. His stop-and-start ability makes him a mismatch for most corners, and they’re developing more ways to use it.

Beckham had eight catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, finishing with 10 for 146. He had 21 catches for 357 yards in his previous three November games, evidence that he’s getting the hang of this thing.

While hamstring injuries were a concern early, he came back from a back injury to finish the game, which answers another question.

2. The reaction from Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant after each of his touchdowns made it clear it was not just an ordinary game for him.

With new representative Jay Z walking the field pre-game, on the biggest stage in the league, it was a good opportunity to show the Cowboys exactly what they’re about to have to pay.

Jay Z spent some time on the field pre-game with owner Jerry Jones, and it’s probably safe to assume they weren’t discussing lyrics for a new album.

3. For all the attention given the Cowboys’ offensive line this year (and rightly so), the Giants are starting to see the dividends from one of their offseason moves.

Free agent pickup Geoff Schwartz got his first start of the year, adding some stability. He was one of their first and biggest moves of the offseason, though they envisioned him playing guard when they signed him to a four-year, $16.8 million contract at the start of free agency.

But he was at right tackle Sunday, replacing the injured Justin Pugh. They also replaced rookie Weston Richburg with Adam Snyder at left guard, and they looked more solid than they had previously. Before a toe injury that landed him on IR/designated for return, Schwartz was penciled into the lineup at left guard.

Schwartz is a physical blocker, who may be better suited inside. But he’s also experienced enough (26 starts with the Panthers and Chiefs) to slide outside comfortably, and the difference in the Giants offense was evident.

4. The Cowboys defense, much maligned for their lack of talent last year, have bounced back admirably.

After allowing three touchdowns in three drives early, they were able to slow the Giants on the next five, either forcing punts or turnovers.

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli doesn’t have a wealth of talent to work with, but there’s a little bit of an edge about this bunch that is noticeable.

5. In addition to Beckham, the Giants seem to have found a keeper in rookie running back Andre Williams.

The fourth-rounder got the benefit of a hazy review in the first half, but scored later, and appears to have given them at least a steady complement to veteran Rashad Jennings.

That’s a boost for Giants General Manager Jerry Reese, who has come under scrutiny for the team’s slide in recent years.

They’re still well off where they had hoped, but they appear to have offensive contributors locked up on cheap rookie deals, which gives them a good foundation.

49 responses to “Sunday Night wrap-up: Cowboys pound out another win up front

  1. Must be the first Giants game you’ve watched. Andre Williams came into this game averaging under 3 yards a carry (with over 100 carries). He’s also an ineffective passing down back. He was losing snaps to Hillis prior to his injury.

  2. Gosh, what’s happened to the Giants these last two years? Despite two Super Bowl wins in the last seven years, Coughlin probably needs to go at the end of the season, unless things change drastically.

  3. Dez was acting like that loud, obnoxious drunk girl at the club towards the end there. Might want to save those histrionics for a playoff game at least.

  4. Wow, fairly certain whoever called for that review is going to start menstrating moving forward. It’s the right call obviously, but a TERRIBLE way to end an excellent football game.

  5. Two thoughts:

    1. Andre Williams sucked as a starter when he was replacing Jennings. He was so bad that Peyton Hillis got quite a bit of playing time, so your 5th observation is pretty stupid.

    2. Remember when the Giants were 3-2 and their fans wouldn’t shut up? I don’t hear a peep out of any of them.

  6. lol. Way to play down Romo delivering in the clutch. A great line goes a long way no doubt but Romo’s mobily. patience and decision making were money on that last drive. Let the hate flow. 27 game winning drives. Heck and I’m not even a Cowboys fan, just calling it down the middle.

  7. Tough to watch this modern day Giants team. Getting dominated, straight stomped on in the trenches every game. They need some big bad boys there.

  8. Oh, and “the Giants have one hell of a player”?

    Dallas has 5 of them. Their names are Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick, Zac Martin, and Doug Free.


  9. What a riveting ending. Nothing quite as awesome as having the most important play of the game called on the field one thing, then booth reviewed for about six minutes before being reversed on what looked like about a 1/2″ difference. As if the rest of the spots/calls/penalties were that precise all night. The refs decided to end the game tonight instead of letting it play out and I find that unfortunate for the game. There was more evidence that Dez’s catch was moving when he hit the ground than there was that the ball didn’t get to the 30 yard line.

    I really hope there is some sort of reigning in of refs this off season. They are too prominent.

  10. The Giants clearly aren’t the team they once were and Coughlin is running out of time. He’s had too any chances now to get them back to that level. It’s just not happening. He needs to go.

  11. Good game for the Cowboys. While it was a better effort on the Giants side it shows that the team does need a lot of work. The offense is still inconsistent with three consecutive (TD) scoring drives in the first half and seemingly struggling to produce a first down in the second. The defense, who got burned a couple of weeks ago for over 300 rushing yards, while doing a more decent job, still could not stop good offenses.

    Good game by Beckham, nice to know there is at least some hope in that side of the ball with Cruz out. Bottom line, the team needs to do something about that thing they call a “defense.” If things stay as is, this team will never see another win anytime soon.

  12. I’m not Giants fan but ima sum up the Giants since 2011 after there 4th super bowl win:
    The team has no leaders what I mean by leaders is
    Nobody too hold his teammates accountable on the field and sidelines
    When Micheal Strahan retired and recently as Justin Tuck and Osi left u lost 3 guys that lead by words and example the offense since Eli has been the qb has never had real leader “a guy too yell at the WRs or O-Linemen too do there jobs and focus” let’s admit Eli
    Is not a guy that would tell at his WRs Or O-Line
    Tom coughlin his discipline style has been worn out since 2012
    It’s time for drastic change in Giants coaching and front office “Reese might have too go” Eli Mannig his days as qb are numbered but this was not his fault it takes a team effort and JPP hasn’t been the same

  13. Giants defense, which is pretty bad, could not get there rushing 4. I’ve never seen a QB have so much time as Romo did. Should have brought the house that whole last drive rather than rush only 4.

  14. This is the beginning of the end of Tom Coughlin. I like him more as a head coach then I do Eli Manning as a quarterback, but nothing is getting done and it’s been four years since they have been playoff eligible.

    They have never finished 8-8 and have had just one losing season under him in 2004. I hate to see things end this way, but he is a Hall of Fame coach and I hope he is enshrined within the next decade.

  15. The GMen are crazy if they let Coughlin go …the only change they need is to get McAdon’t out of there … They have a bright future ahead of them on offense. Both teams need a lot of work on defense. the Cowboys need to let Murray walk. yes i said it and I’m a Cowboys fan. Possibly Dez too. If they break the bank on those two they will regret it, mark my words. They need to be worried about that defense.

  16. Romo always chokes when the game is on the line, right?

    It’s such a relief to know that the Cowboys figured out what everyone else knew about how an offensive can be effective and control games. Drafting young premium talents on the offensive line!

    I can’t wait until they figure out what everyone else knows about where to use their top draft picks now to be effective on defense.

  17. Prevent defense will beat you all the time. Cowboys can be beat with stopping the run and pressure on oline if holding gets called!! Giants are just not that good. Competition gets tougher last month of season. See who is standing then Dez!

  18. As a Lions fan…. I really enjoy watching Dallas and a functioning offense.

    Moving the ball…. Scoring touchdowns… Running plays that actually gain yardage… Tight ends who are actually included in the game plan… We’d even rejoice over a ‘3rd and short’…

    Seems like but a dream.

    Many thought Linehan was the problem… oh what we wouldn’t give for a true Passing Game Coordinator right now…


  19. I find it hard to see Dallas being able to beat Philly come Thursday. Dallas isn’t a team to put a lot of points on the board. And that’s how the Eagles have been playing by shoot outs. Eagles offense too explosive for the Cowboys. Their Defense is still trash it’s just that no has been able to see that because the Cowboys do a good job of keeping them off the field, but I don’t think that’ll be enough for philly come Thursday. if they want to win they’re going to have to put up 30 + points. Eagles have a way better pass Rush then what they’ve seen all year. Eagles don’t really have to blitz all that often they’ll get you with stunts and twists. They’re ranked 1st I belive in sacks with Barwin 1st in the NFC for sacks this season. We all saw how Dallas got beat up by Washington because they got pressure. Philly 35 Dallas 21.

  20. Not a Cowboys fan but I have to give credit where it’s due. They built their offensive foundation on their line, old school successful football strategy.

    A great o-line makes a good QB/RB look great.

  21. when it came down to it, Eli was the difference.

    Both teams ran the ball well, both defenses did the bend-don’t-break dance, both passing games moved the ball…. the difference was that Eli Manning soiled the bed when it mattered, and got away with several ‘grounding’ passes.

    Eli will get a pass, as usual – it’s never his fault.

  22. Hey ” no “, not going to earn any respect with such well thought out posts. Up your game a little and maybe we’ll see. Was it a dominent victory? No. But it was a ” W” and any win this late in the season is a good win. Even the bad teams are starting to jell some by now. ( raiders over the chiefs ) are you going to say that the chiefs are trash because they lost to a division opponent on the road? Are the cardinals trash? Are the broncos trash for losing to the rams ( who the Cowboys beat by the way ) last week? It just goes to show the “Good” teams find a way to win regardless of how poorly they played. The Dallas Cowboys did what they had to do to WIN. And I’ll take it.. Go Cowboys !!!!!!

  23. Not the Giants year but they are still a monster franchise rich in history. That might have been the best catch ever. Great game. Wish the Giants won.

  24. I used to think Jerrah paid off the refs to get wins.

    Now I am starting to think the league tells the refs who to “help” as much as possible.

    The holding of the ball away from the center until they find out if the boys want a challenge.

    The hit out of bounds correctly called by the ref right there on the sideline. overruled by the head ref who was 40 yards away, said he was in bounds and took a flop?

    The running into the punter not called.

    1:11 left dez catches the ball in bounds and is driven backwards and never does go out of bounds. Yet they stop the clock to save the boys time out.

    Looks like the league wants a patriots/boys superbowl
    Since Revis and Browner hold the receivers on every play while every other team in the league is not allowed to touch them.

    NFC north fan, so I am not a whiney giants fan.

  25. coltzfan166 says:

    Coughlin probably needs to go at the end of the season, unless things change drastically.

    As a Dallas fan who obviously hates the Giants, who in the hell would you pick who would be an actual upgrade? Coughlin deserves to be a first ballot HOFer just for managing to win not one, but two championships with Eli of all people. Think of how many Super Bowls he could win with a great QB.

  26. Hey snap missed a few. The fumble that wasn’t that let the giants keep the ball and score. So many false starts by the giants that weren’t seen. And on the play everyone is talking about was clearly an offensive pass interfence, Beckham threw Carr aside to make a great catch. You may be an NFC north fan but it’s obvious that you’re just another Cowboys hater. Look at the whole game not just a few calls that didn’t go the giants way. Cowboys overcame bad calls and still won. Go Cowboys!!!!!!

  27. abninf says:

    As a Dallas fan who obviously hates the Giants, who in the hell would you pick who would be an actual upgrade? Coughlin deserves to be a first ballot HOFer just for managing to win not one, but two championships with Eli of all people. Think of how many Super Bowls he could win with a great QB.


    That’s an incorrect assumption. I wish everyone would quit dumping on Eli. Football is a TEAM sport and no one player causes wins or losses. A QB is only as good as his protection; Tom Brady is the perfect example. He’s the most overrated QB in football (next to Kaepernick of course), because he’s had fantastic protection most of his career. He’s awful with no protection. Eli is better than Brady when his protection holds up; he demonstrated that last night.

    And as far as the Cowboys are concerned, sure, they got their 8th win. But December is right around the corner and they are due for The December Slide. Trust me, it’s coming… starting with an loss to the Eagles on Thanksgiving.

  28. derekgorgonstar says:
    Nov 24, 2014 12:03 AM
    I don’t know what I love more, Coughlin face or Eli face.
    Eli, for sure. His 6 yearold tantrum when he threw that pick was classic Eli. Coughlin just looks dumbfounded every play.

  29. luckyarmpit says:
    Nov 24, 2014 10:43 AM
    I wish everyone would quit dumping on Eli. Football is a TEAM sport and no one player causes wins or losses.
    So every time he throws five interceptions in a game it’s the “team”, right?

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