The New York Giants are a bad matchup for the Dallas Cowboys but, at least for one evening, it wasn’t close.
With running back Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup thanks to a Sherman judge’s decision, the Cowboys looked like the team that went 13-3 in 2016 and handled the Giants. Zeke went for more than 100 yards, with much of his man-yardage gained in the second half. Elliott was granted a preliminary injunction in the appeal of his six-game suspension by the NFL for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Thanks to Dan Bailey’s right foot, the Cowboys snapped a three-game losing streak to the Giants and started the season 1-0 after Sunday night’s 19-3 win over the Giants at AT&T Stadium.
Here are The Mac Attack’s Big Three InstaOverReactions.
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Cowboys have a pass rush
Rookie first round Taco Charlton is the defensive end the Cowboys are hoping develops into a reliable pass rusher, but their best one right now is DeMarcus “Tank” Lawrence.
He lost 10 pounds, at least in the off-season after playing nearly all of 2016 injured. Tank had eight sacks two years ago on a bad team, and some of his production was credited to the presence of Greg Hardy playing on the other side.
On Sunday night, Tank was dominant. He finished with two sacks, three tackles for losses, and was in Eli Manning’s face a few other times. Tank is in a contract season. Funny how that works. If he is this good, the Cowboys will have answered their biggest problem.
The team finished with three sacks, three tackles for loss and an interception.
Scott Linehan’s calls
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was roundly, and deservedly, ripped for his play-calling in the Cowboys’ playoff loss against the Green Bay Packers back in January. The knock was he didn’t run Zeke enough in the first half.
Linehan continued that in the first half when at one point quarterback Dak Prescott had attempted twice as many passes as Zeke had runs.
Dak attempted 39 passes, and Zeke ran it 24 times for 104 yards. It worked, but something is wrong with that.
A Football Miracle
I’ll order my crow on this deep fried, please. Jaylon Smith might be a real player. The former Notre Dame linebacker, who suffered a major knee injury in his final game in college, played and started his first NFL game since the Cowboys selected him in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft.
The absence of Anthony Hitchens, who is out with a leg injury, forced the Cowboys into accelerating Smith’s role on the defense. For a guy who has only practiced for well over a year, and is still recovering from the injury that knocked him from a top five pick to the second round, Sunday night was a major achievement.
He had one hit that forced a fumble, and was a big, physical presence on the field. He was credited with seven tackles.
I didn’t think he could do it, but being so wrong feels pretty damn good. Smith is a good guy and you want this for him.
Mac Engel: @macengelprof