When every game is a playoff qualifying game, there’s pressure.
When you’re locked in a 10-10 game with an NFC East rival on the road, albeit one with a losing record, there’s pressure.
For now, the Dallas Cowboys (7-6) must handle the pressure of being in a survive-and-advance mode.
They passed Sunday’s test with a 30-10 win over the New York Giants (2-11).
RUSH OFFENSE: B The Cowboys rushed 31 times for 122 yards. Alfred Morris had 19 carries for 62 yards, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry. But he had a 37-yard run called back because of a hold on veteran tight end Jason Witten. Rod Smith and his fresh legs proved to be the difference in the fourth quarter as he rushed six times for 47 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown run. The bigger Smith was the back the Cowboys used to close the game.
PASS OFFENSE: B It was frustrating early for Dak Prescott and the passing game, as the receivers had four dropped passes, including two by Dez Bryant. But Prescott ended with a career-high 332 passing yards and three touchdowns against an overmatched Giants defense. It was the case of the little plays turning into big plays that allowed Prescott to break out of a month-long funk and his receivers to blow the game open with passes of 50 yards to Dez Bryant, 54 to Cole Beasley and 81 to Rod Smith. Only Beasley’s play didn’t finish in the end zone, but it set up a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten. The Cowboys only had three passing passing plays of 50 yards or more in the first 12 games combined. The three plays of 50 yards-or-more were also the most by the Cowboys since at least 1994, per the Cowboys’ public relations staff.
RUN DEFENSE: B The Redskins rushed 29 times for 102 yards in the game. Wayne Gallman rushed 12 times for 59 yards to lead the way. But linebacker Sean Lee made his presence felt in his first game back, leading the way with 18 tackles. Anthony Hitchens added 14 tackles and safety Jeff Heath had 10.
PASS DEFENSE: B Eli Manning was undone by drops by his young receivers and was not sacked in the game. But the Cowboys pressured him throughout and the young secondary proved to be up to the task again, especially Chido Awuzie. He now has four pass deflections in two games. Ceterans Sean Lee and Jeff Heath recorded interceptions. Heath has a team-leading three interceptions and had one for the second consecutive week.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D Dan Bailey missed two field goals and missed an extra point for the first time in his career. The winds in the Meadowlands are legendary for wreaking havoc on kickers. Chris Jones was excellent again on punts, averaging 47.5 yards on four attempts. Cole Beasley had a 15-yard punt return and Ran Switzer had a 28-yard kickoff return.
COACHING: A The Cowboys didn’t panic when things didn’t go well early against a motivated opponent. They stuck to the plan and eventually wore the Giants down. Give offensive coordinator Scott Linehan credit for finding ways to use running back Rod Smith. His young fresh legs in the fourth quarter made a difference.