Cowboys 37, Giants 18

Cowboys vs. Giants: Good, bad and ugly

The Cowboys won their second consecutive game, and their fifth game of the season against the Giants on Monday night. Both teams got off to slow starts, but the Cowboys were able to overcome this setback and take a big victory in East Rutherford.

The good

Ezekiel Elliot had a great game with 23 carries for 139 yards. The Cowboys' offensive line was opening up holes left and right for Elliot to seemingly gain 5 yards on every carry. The offense relied heavily on the run game early on, but once Elliot got going, the rest of the Cowboys offense starting clicking as well.

The defense stepped up at pivotal times throughout the game. Sean Lee lead the game in tackles and had a key stop in the fourth quarter against Saquon Barkley. Xavier Woods had a pivotal interception in the 2nd quarter that would set up Bret Maher for a 52 yard field goal to put the Cowboys up 13-12. The boys never trailed again once they took the lead.

Dak Prescott got off to a rocky start throwing his first pass of the game to Giants Safety Antoine Bethea. The offense continued to stall until an 8-yard pass to Blake Jarwin that turned into a 42 yard touchdown. All of the momentum switched to the Cowboys after this score. We even saw the return of Dak's deep ball to Amari Cooper for a 45 yard touchdown in the 4th quarter.

The bad

Injuries are continuing to plague the Cowboys, especially on the defensive side. Leighton Vander Esch missed his first game after leaving early with a neck injury against the Eagles in Week 7. He is still listed as day-to-day, but his presence was sorely missed. Safety Jeff Health left the game Monday night with a leg injury. After the game he received 12 stitches to seal a laceration he suffered saving a touchdown on the opening kickoff of the third quarter. He did not return to the game.

Penalties are still a big problem for the team. The Cowboys committed 10 penalties for a total of 104 yards. Tyron Smith committed two holding calls and Randell Cobb had two penalties against him as well. One negating a touchdown.

Michael Bennett's debut for the Cowboys was lackluster to say the least. He committed two penalties, one for offside and the other for lining up in the neutral zone. The offside penalty gifted the Giants a free first down. He did have three tackles and one sack, but he needs to work on not obtaining so many penalties going forward.

The ugly

For the third time this season, turnovers and lack of offensive consistency stalled the Cowboys offense in the first half. If they want success in their final eight games, getting off to good starts is key. Tougher teams like the Vikings, Patriots, Bills and Rams can and will take advantage of the Cowboys if they continue to get off to sluggish starts.

The cat was the most odd thing about this game. Although it was entertaining to see a cat run on the filed, it did delay the game for a couple minutes. This oddity ultimately resulted in a Cowboys victory so whose to say a black cat is always bad luck.

The amount of penalties called on both teams caused the game to go longer than a typical NFL game should have. Together there were 18 penalties for 175 yards. There were 22 total flags thrown in this game resulting in one of the longest games of the week .

Overall both teams put up mediocre numbers offensively in the first half, but once the Cowboys took the lead, their offensive struggles dissipated. The Cowboys now sit alone atop the NFC East with a 5-3 record, and the Giants sit in 3rd place with a 2-6 record behind the Eagles and ahead of the Redskins.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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