The Cowboys’ desire to control the time of possession was nothing new to the Giants. Doing it with 405 yards through the air, compared to just 89 on the ground, was a bit of a twist.
Dallas continued its progression from a run-heavy offense on Sunday with a 35-17 season-opening win over the Giants at AT&T Stadium. Fourth-year quarterback Dak Prescott completed 25 of 32 passes with four touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 pass rating.
The sports world will celebrate Overreaction Monday tomorrow, but the Giants won’t take the day off for the national holiday. They will look to right the wrongs for Week 2.
"Well, we certainly didn’t do enough on offense, defense or special teams to win a game against a good team that played well," coach Pat Shurmur said. "We didn’t score enough points and we certainly gave up too many. It’s a credit to them. They played well and we didn’t play well enough, so we’ve got to learn from it."
IT WAS OVER WHEN: After he ended a 40-day holdout and signed a six-year contract extension on Wednesday, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott all but finished the game on Sunday with a 10-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. It gave Dallas a 35-10 advantage heading into the fourth.
THIRD DOWN & OUT: The Giants converted just two of 11 first downs and one of three fourth-down attempts. Meanwhile, the Cowboys were six of 10 and held the ball for more than 32 minutes.
"That’s very unacceptable and we’ll get that fixed," Shurmur said. "And then on defense, I think there were some big plays against us in the passing game that we’ve got to – we’ve got to get that rectified, especially against a good team. So, we have plenty of work to do. We’ve got to get back to New Jersey and get to work. Had a lot of young players out there playing for the first time. There’s some good…there’s some stuff we’ve got to get cleaned up and they need to improve quickly."
"Some of it is inexperience, but you can’t have any excuses," safety and defensive co-captain Antoine Bethea said. "We work, we practice, we watch film. We can’t hold that over our head and have that as our excuse, that we are young. We are young, yeah we are young. But we get paid to do a job, and we have to do our job."
BRIGHT SPOTS: Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram led the offense in rushing and receiving, respectively. The duo was particularly dynamic on the opening drive, which Barkley sparked with a 59-yard run. Engram capped it off with a one-yard touchdown from Eli Manning. Barkley, who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage last year, recorded his 14th 100-yard game on Sunday. He had 139 total yards – 120 rushing (11 carries) and 19 receiving (four catches). Engram, meanwhile, set career highs in targets (14), receptions (11) and receiving yards (116).
"I’m just trying to make plays when my name is called," Engram said. "Definitely looking forward to continue to work and make big plays and winning these games. ... There’s definitely a lesson to be learned today. This team is different from the past. We played a good team today. They had our number. But it’s only one game. We have 15 left. The mentality of this locker room is where it needs to be. This is going to make us hungrier. We get to go home next week, get a full week of preparation, fix the mistakes and get back in front of our fans to play a good Buffalo team.”
JONES MAKES DEBUT: When Manning took his first snap on Sunday, he became the first Giant to play 16 seasons for the franchise. It all started on Sept. 12, 2004, when the rookie came in for Kurt Warner late in a 31-17 loss to the Eagles. Similarly, Jones made his debut in a runaway game against a division rival. The sixth overall draft pick entered the Cowboys game with 1:46 remaining and the Giants trailing, 35-17. He completed three of four passes for 17 yards before he lost a fumble on a five-yard scramble with 56 seconds left in the game.
"I thought it was the right thing to do to get him some work," Shurmur said. "We don’t want to fumble the ball like he did. You can see he’s a competitive guy. He’ll learn to run that out of bounds. In his mind, he competes and he said, 'I wanted to guarantee we got the first.' You’ve just got to secure the ball on that play. For the rest of it, I felt like it was important to get him some work."
"I was excited," Jones said. "I don’t think there was an awkwardness to (going in for Manning). I’m the backup quarterback so that’s my job.”
WHAT THE LOSS MEANS FOR THE GIANTS: The Giants lost the season opener for the eighth time in nine years, including the last two. They will look to avoid starting 0-2 for the third consecutive season when the Bills come to town in Week 2 for the home opener. The Giants have won the last three (in 2007, 2011, and 2015) and four of the last five games in the series vs. Buffalo, which defeated the Jets on Sunday in the first of back-to-back games at MetLife Stadium.
"Just go back and watch film," Barkley said of how to rebound. "We lost obviously, but we did a lot of good. We were able to drive the ball against a very talented team. So, we’ve got to go back to the drawing board, learn, be honest with each other and try to find a way to fix the mistakes.”
WHAT THE WIN MEANS FOR THE COWBOYS: Dallas began its NFC East title defense with a bang in the hopes of becoming the division’s first repeat winner since Philadelphia won four in a row from 2001-2004. The Cowboys remain in the division next week when they travel to face the Washington Redskins, who lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1.
"You want to start off getting a win, there’s no question about that," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "That’s something we point towards. This is the game we’ve been focused on. We haven’t been focused on any other game up to this point. So, it feels good to register the win, but you go back tomorrow and you clean things up. There’s a ton to clean up from an execution standpoint in all three phases of our team. Certainly, there’s some good stuff to build on but we have a long way to go. Our players go about it the right way, so we try to coach them hard, correct the mistakes and move forward.”