Clarence Hill’s 5 Things from Dallas Cowboys 23-16 win vs. New York Giants

Let’s be clear.

The Dallas Cowboys don’t have a quarterback controversy on their hands.

What they do have is an enviable quarterback situation and one of the best defenses in the NFL.

Backup quarterback Cooper Rush won for the second straight game in place of injured starter Dak Prescott, leading the Cowboys to a 23-16 victory over the New York Giants on Monday night at MetLife Stadium.

Rush, who is now 3-0 all-time as a starting quarterback, directed his third consecutive game-winning drive to put the Giants away.

Rush completed 21 of 31 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown while leading the Cowboys to 10 fourth-quarter points after the game was tied at 13-13.

But also credit a stout Cowboys defense, which continued to keep opposing offenses out of the end zone.

The Giants, who fell to 2-1, scored a lone touchdown in the third quarter as the Cowboys have allowed only three touchdowns in three games to move to 2-1 on the season.

The victory allowed the Cowboys to keep track with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East.

The Cowboys face the Washington Commanders (1-2) in another NFC East battle on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.

Clarence Hill’s 5 Things from the Cowboys’ 23-16 win vs. the Giants

Cooper Rush doesn’t blink, continues to play well and win

Cooper Rush did it again.

He was simply Cooper Rush again.

The Cowboys’ backup quarterback doesn’t blink the face of adversity and now the Cowboys are 2-0 with Rush at the helm in 2022 and still in the thick of the race in the NFC East.

Despite being let down by his receivers through the first three quarters, including two big drops by CeeDee Lamb and one by Jalen Tolbert, Rush stayed calm and cool as always.

And after the Giants scored on a 36-yard run by Saquon Barkley to take their first lead of the game in third quarter at 13-6, Rush directed a 75-yard scoring drive.

He connected on a 17-yard pass to Lamb, a 29-yard pass to tight end Peyton Hendershot and 12-yard pass to Noah Brown to power a nine9-play drive, capped by a 1-yard run from Ezekiel Elliott.

He followed that with an 11-play, 89-yard drive in the fourth quarter, giving the Cowboys the lead.

That Mike McCarthy allowed the Cowboys to go for it at the Giants 41 on fourth-and-4 with 10:27 to go showed the team’s trust in Rush.

He connected with Lamb for four yards and then ended with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Lamb, putting the Cowboys up 20-13.

A 44-yard field goal on the ensuing series gave the Cowboys a 23-13 lead.

Jason Peters takes over at left guard

The Cowboys signed 40-year-old Jason Peters following the following the injury to Tyron Smith for insurance at left tackle.

But with rookie Tyler Smith holding it down and playing solidly, Peters, a nine-time Pro Bowler at left tackle, is getting a chance to help the Cowboys at left guard.

The 19-year veteran made his presence immediately after taking the field on the third series of the game for Matt Farniok, combining with Smith to open a hole for a 46-yard run from Tony Pollard. Smith blocked two guys on the play.

Elliott also had a 27-yard run over the left side after Peters entered the game as the Cowboys had 126 yards rushing in the first half. Dallas finished with 176 yards on the ground, including 105 on 13 carries by Pollard.

The Cowboys had 71 yards rushing in the season opener and 107 in Week 2 against the Bengals.

CeeDee Lamb makes up for drops, still must prove he’s No. 1 WR

One reason the Cowboys said they felt comfortable dealing No. 1 receiver Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns in the off season was the presence of 2020 first-round pick CeeDee Lamb.

As the wearer of the legacy 88 jersey, his elevation to No. 1 was pre-ordained.

But Lamb has been a disappointment so far in 2022. He came into Monday’s game with nine catches for 104 yads and no touchdowns. He was second behind Noah Brown, who had 10 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown.

Lamb continued to struggled against the Giants with a wide-open drop in the second quarter that he could have turned into a touchdown, if not put the Cowboys in certain scoring range. He then dropped a pass a few plays later that took the Cowboys out of field goal range.

The pass was tipped but it was a play Lamb has to make.

Lamb’s play exacerbates a large problem for the Cowboys who lack playmakers at receiver, especially with Michael Gallup the team’s best big-play threat missing the first three games recovering from a torn ACL.

Third-round pick Jalen Tobert, who suited up for the first time after watching the first two games in street clothes as a healthy inactive, dropped a potential touchdown pass in the third quarter.

Lamb redeemed himself in the fourth quarter with a crucial catch on fourth-and-4 from the 41 to extend the chains with the game tied at 13-13.

He then caught a 26-yard pass and bullied his way toward the end zone before being stopped at the 1.

Lamb capped the drive with a spectacular over the shoulder catch for the touchdown. It was his first touchdown of the season and his first touchdown in 11 games, dating back to the 43-3 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 14, 2021.

DeMarcus Lawrence joins sack party but sidelined in third quarter

Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence finally got on the board in the sack department with three sacks through the first three quarters to lead a strong defensive effort against the Giants.

The Cowboys recorded five sacks against Daniel Jones and kept the passing game contained. Jones finished 20-of-37 passing for 196 yards with one interception.

Jones, however, gashed them on several scrambles from the pocket but the difference in the game came in the third quarter when Lawrence was sidelined by a foot injury.

A strong defensive effort against Saquon Barkley for much of the game was gashed by a 36-yard touchdown run by the NFL’s leading rusher, allowing the Giants to take their first lead of the game.

It was only the third touchdown surrendered by the Cowboys through the first 11 quarters of the season.

And the Cowboys defense made it stand, limiting the Giants to a lone field goal in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Trevon Diggs preserved the victory with a late interception of Jones on the Giants’ last desperation drive.

Mike McCarthy shows faith with another fourth down gamble

Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy gave the Cowboys the impetus for the victory against the Cincinnati Bengals last week with a fourth down gamble on the opening drive of the game, resulting in a touchdown and a early lead in a 20-17 triumph.

McCarthy pulled off his gambling magic in the fourth quarter against the Giants.

The Cowboys faced a fourth-and-4 from the Giants’ 41 with the game tied at 13-13. Instead of punting, McCarthy went for it and Cooper Rush connected with CeeDee Lamb for exactly four yards.

A few plays later, Lamb caught a touchdown pass to put the Cowboys in the lead, propelling them to victory.

The players made the plays but McCarthy showed confidence in them and provided the impetus. Again.