With a dominant defense, Cowboys finding their offensive identity too

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dak Prescott had a quick answer when asked for his definition of complementary football.

“Winning,” the Dallas Cowboys quarterback said. “Simple. Winning.”

The Cowboys dispatched the New York Jets 30-10 on Sunday at AT&T Stadium, seven days after tossing aside New York’s other team, the Giants, 40-0, at a rain-soaked MetLife Stadium.

The Cowboys are 2-0 for the first time since 2019. The last time the Cowboys won both of their first two games of the season by 20 or more points was 1968. They are the fifth team in the Super Bowl era to score 70 points and allow 10 or fewer in their first two games. Prior to the New England Patriots doing it in 2019, the last time it happened was 1970 (Detroit Lions).

While the defense has been dominant -- 10 sacks, seven takeaways -- the Cowboys are finding their offensive identity.

The weather was an impediment against the Giants, but the Cowboys did not turn the ball over. They didn't turn the ball over against the Jets either.

Prescott did not go consecutive games without an interception last season, when he tied for the most with 15 in 12 starts. He wasn’t very pleased to answer an interception question Sunday.

“Last year is last year and it’s something I’ve left,” Prescott said. “You know the interceptions, all that, I guess when you lead the league it will never go away. But as I stated last year, every one of them has their story. But that’s not where my mind is. That’s not something I think about. Just being candid. I really don’t care about the questions about them at this point.

“I’m going out there, just trying to complete the ball, get the ball to these guys, the playmakers that we have, get it to them in space, let them go do their thing. And I’m still going to take some shots. I’m still going to not shy away from the confidence that I have and the work we’ve put in on some one-on-ones to give these guys some opportunities. But I don’t even think about that at this point.”

The Cowboys had three scoring drives of 12 plays and one each of 13 and 14 plays. They held the ball for 42 minutes, 15 seconds.

“If we can get a lead and let that defense start rushing,” All-Pro right guard Zack Martin said, “they’re tough to stop.”

The Cowboys ran it 30 times against the Giants with four different runners getting a touch, not counting Prescott. They ran it 44 times against the Jets with five different runners getting a carry, not counting Prescott. They converted 46.3% of their third-down chances against the Giants, and 50% against the Jets.

“It’s definitely something to build on,” said tight end Jake Ferguson, who caught a touchdown pass Sunday. “A great start to the season. A good Week 2, but there’s always room for improvement.”

The only inefficient part of the offense against the Jets was in the red zone, converting touchdowns on just 2 of 6 opportunities. But some of McCarthy’s playcalling in the second half led to Brandon Aubrey field goal attempts because there was no need to be overly aggressive with how the Cowboys' defense was handling the Jets.

Who knows, there may be a game when the defense allows more than 10 points. Or it doesn’t pressure the opposing quarterback on 55% of the dropbacks, which is the highest rate of any team through two games since 2009, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Or it doesn’t get multiple takeaways in a game.

Aside from receiver Garrett Wilson’s 68-yard touchdown catch, the Cowboys allowed 3.3 yards per play. The Cowboys had four takeaways in the second half, including three interceptions.

“We know our style,” defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence said. “We know our identity that we play with.”

And the offense was figuring its identity out too against the Jets. Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb had 11 receptions (on 13 targets) for 143 yards. Running back Tony Pollard had a career-high 25 carries, even though he gained just 72 yards. And Prescott completed 31 of 38 passes for 255 yards and had two touchdown passes. He completed his first 13 passes of the game, the best start he has had in his career.

Soon they will have left guard Tyler Smith, who has missed the first two games with a hamstring strain, back in the lineup. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks could be back as soon as Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals after a sprained knee kept him out against the Jets.

“At the end of the day in this league, it’s about getting the job done and winning the game and being complementary [to] your defense,” Prescott said. “I think we did that. Very efficient in ways, but we left a lot out there still. That’s the standard of this offense, the standard of this team. We expect to score touchdowns on every drive, so when you don’t do that, you still haven’t hit your goal, I guess you could say.

“[There's] a lot we can do better, but overall, very efficient team win that we're proud of. It’s hard to win in this league.”