The Cowboys are now 5-3 on the season after defeating the New York Giants. Dallas is in control of the NFC East. Here are five things learned from week 9.
1. Saquon Can be Contained
Against the Giants in week 1, the Cowboys did a good job of stopping Saquon Barkley, but it was overshadowed by one big run. This week they shut him down in the running game. He had 14 carries for 28 yards for one of his worst performances as a pro. Barkley did escape for 65-yard catch, but the Cowboys successfully made Daniel Jones beat them through the air by stopping Barkley, which is something they couldn’t do.
This is even more impressive because Leighton Vander Esch was out of this game due to neck stiffness. Dallas was able to slow Barkley without one of their best defenders, which bodes well for this matchup in future years.
2. Sean Lee is Still Good
This season, Sean Lee has been overshadowed by the young linebackers on the team. He was forced to play more snaps against the Giants and showed flashes of his former self. Lee totaled 12 tackles, one tackle for loss and one pass defended. His play helped the Cowboys stop the run, which was a key to winning the game.
Playing fewer snaps seems to be keeping Lee fresh. If Vander Esch or Jaylon Smith need to miss time later in the season, the Cowboys can now be confident that Lee still has some left in the tank. Every good team needs depth and Dallas has that at the linebacker position.
3. The Offensive Line is Back
After dealing with injuries and some poor play to start the season, the offensive line had a great effort against the Giants. They did not allow a sack, which allowed Dak Prescott to have a good game. The line was also able to clear a lot of room for Ezekiel Elliot, who finished the game with 23 carries for 139 yards, which put him at 6.0 yards per carry.
Usually playing well against a bad defense doesn’t mean much, but the Cowboys needed a performance like this to get things going for the backstretch of the season. The Giants also acquired Leonard Williams, who in theory should’ve helped their run defense. Hopefully, the line can keep this up the rest of the way.
4. Dallas Can Generate Pressure
Before the bye week, it was known that Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence could create pressure. The tandem has been great ever since Quinn returned from injury. This week though, other players joined the party, which makes the pass rush more dangerous moving forward. Lawrence had a sack, Quinn half a sack, but other players also helped out. Maliek Collins, Dorance Armstrong and Michael Bennett each had a sack, while Darian Thompson had a half of a sack too.
In the future, when Lawrence gets double-teamed, it is good to know that players other than Quinn can be relied upon to get to the quarterback. When the playoffs come, this can be the key to the Cowboys advancing.
5. Jourdan Lewis is an Impact Player
Jourdan Lewis has been making plays when he gets opportunities. He had one of the few interceptions for the Cowboys earlier in the season. Against the Giants, he continued to make plays. Lewis had six tackles and a fumble recovery that he took 63 yards for a touchdown. With a secondary that has a few holes in it, Lewis can help the rest of the season.
Lewis playing at this level will help the Cowboys get to where they need to be. He’s versatile and is making an impact. If his play drops off, other teams could take advantage of the secondary.