It’s hard to think of the Dallas Cowboys as the best team in the NFL, but their record following a 31-21 win over the New York Giants with another impressive performance from Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray sets them apart from the rest of the league at this point.
They do have one loss, just like the Broncos, Raiders and Eagles, but the Cowboys have yet to have their bye week while the others have been rested at some point since the season started. The Cowboys didn’t let the success of winning in Seattle go to their head, even if the Giants proved to be a handful, even taking the lead in the second quarter for a short while, taking advantage of a Tony Romo interception on the previous play.
Romo did make that one mistake and later the Cowboys were punished for it with a touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Daniel Fells, but the Cowboys were very difficult to stop on offense all game long. Romo completed 17-of-23 passes for 279 yards and three touchdown passes, while DeMarco Murray set a new NFL record by rushing for over 100 yards (128 this time) for the seventh straight game since the beginning of the season, breaking a Jim Brown record that held on for 56 years.
Romo was perfect in the second half, completing 9-of-9 passes focusing mostly on Dez Bryant. The duo averaged 19.4 yards per play in the second half, which included getting five first downs after struggling getting the ball to his best receiver in the first half. Instead he worked with Giovani Escobar, catching two touchdown passes in the first half, with the second one being a perfect throw and even better reception to put the Cowboys in the lead at the beginning of the second half.
But this is a running team. The Cowboys rushed for 156 yards on 35 carries, with Murray scoring one touchdown. The Cowboys went with a rush on 23 of their 27 first down plays, the highest first down rush percentage in a game this season. Murray had 92 yards on 18 carries when in first down, including a touchdown. He has gained 686 yards this season on first downs, more than any other running back on all four downs so far, leading the NFL with 130.4 rushing yards per game. The closest to him is Arian Foster with 102 per game.
Tony Romo did exceptionally well on third down. That’s how easy it gets with a difficult running threat to handle paving the road for you. He was 10-for-10 on third down, getting the first down seven times. On the three failed conversions when he did pass (The Cowboys were 9-of-14 all game long on third down), he was shy of getting the first down by an average of 1.3 yards. He finished with a 98.0 QBR according to ESPN and a 135.7 passer rating.
Eli Manning played well. He didn’t throw any interceptions, and finished with three touchdown passes while throwing for 248 yards. But Larry Donnell, his leading receiver in the game (7 catches, 90 yards), fumbled the ball for a turnover twice. The Dallas Cowboys defense isn’t great at sacking or stopping teams, but it made the most of the opportunities given to them. The Cowboys scored one touchdown off the turnovers, while the second one came on the final drive for the Giants when they were already 10 points behind with less than a minute to play.
Six straight wins, and the Cowboys are the hottest team in the league and the only one with six wins through their first seven games. It might be too good to be true in the opinion of some, but it’s hard to argue with success which is clearly about ability and not luck. The Giants find themselves in trouble in the NFC East, falling three games behind the Cowboys, with losses to them and the Eagles, another team with just one loss so far.