What we learned in the Cowboys 36-35 win over the New York Giants:
1. Dak Prescott scrambled on 4th-and-15 to find Cole Beasley for a diving touchdown. The QB then hit Michael Gallup for the two-point conversion to give the Cowboys an entertaining, dramatic win in a back-and-forth affair to close out the regular season.
The Dallas brass insisted all week they would play their starters. Jerry Jones’ team did just that for the most part. Ezekiel Elliott sat out, but Dak Prescott and the majority of offensive starters who were active played the duration. With three backup linemen at one point, the strategy to put the starting QB in harm’s way was questionable, but the Cowboys wanted a shaky offense to hit the playoffs with a positive performance. They got just that. After a sloppy start, Prescott looked good down the stretch. There are some rickety moments, but when he is in rhythm and hits his reads on time, Prescott proved he can be effective. Dak surpassed the 300-yard barrier for just the second time on the season, compiling 387 yards on 27-of-44 passing with four touchdowns. Perhaps the best news for Dallas was they succeeded in the red zone (three TDs in four trips), a place they’ve struggled, and Prescott was stellar on third downs. His strike on the game-winning score should provide a boost of confidence for Dallas heading into Wild Card Weekend.
2. Tight end Blake Jarwin was the star for the Cowboys, catching three touchdown passes (13, 19, and 39 yards). The second-year tight end was Prescott’s go-to target all game, catching seven of eight targets for 119 yards and the three scores. Jarwin entered the game with 20 catches and 188 total yards in his career. The past month, the 24-year-old has surged to the forefront for a Cowboys team that had been searching for Jason Witten’s replacement. Heading into the playoffs, Dallas opponents must account for Jarwin, giving Prescott another needed weapon.
3. Saquon Barkley didn’t catch Ezekiel Elliott for the rushing crown, but the Giants running back set a rookie record. Barkley caught four passes Sunday, giving him 91 for the season to pass Reggie Bush (88) for most ever by a first-year player. The Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate was stymied most of the day in the season-ender, but popped two huge runs (26 and 68 yards), compiling 109 yards on 17 totes. Barkley’s big 68-yard second-half scamper put him over 2,000 scrimmage yards for the season, becoming just the third rookie to reach the mark, joining Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James. With Barkley, Evan Engram — who played fantastic in the season finale — and receiver Cody Latimermaking two fantastic acrobatic one-handed catches, the Giants showed, sans Odell Beckham, they have the pieces to be an explosive offense in 2019 if they can finally figure out their offensive line issues and determine the future at quarterback.