Cowboys 37, Giants 18

Cowboys vs. Giants: Good, bad and ugly

Cowboys vs. Giants: Good, bad and ugly

Cowboys Clebrating a victory in New York

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 Astros have their work cut out for them. Composite Getty Image.

Through 20 games, the Houston Astros have managed just six wins and are in last place in the AL West.

Their pitching staff trails only Colorado with a 5.24 ERA and big-money new closer Josh Hader has given up the same number of earned runs in 10 games as he did in 61 last year.

Despite this, these veteran Astros, who have reached the AL Championship Series seven consecutive times, have no doubt they’ll turn things around.

“If there’s a team that can do it, it’s this team,” shortstop Jeremy Peña said.

First-year manager Joe Espada, who was hired in January to replace the retired Dusty Baker, discussed his team’s early struggles.

“It’s not ideal,” he said. “It’s not what we expected, to come out of the shoot playing this type of baseball. But you know what, this is where we’re at and we’ve got to pick it up and play better. That’s just the bottom line.”

Many of Houston’s problems have stemmed from a poor performance by a rotation that has been decimated by injuries. Ace Justin Verlander and fellow starter José Urquidy haven’t pitched this season because of injuries and lefty Framber Valdez made just two starts before landing on the injured list with a sore elbow.

Ronel Blanco, who threw a no-hitter in his season debut April 1, has pitched well and is 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA in three starts this season. Cristian Javier is also off to a good start, going 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in four starts, but the team has won just two games not started by those two pitchers.

However, Espada wouldn’t blame the rotation for Houston’s current position.

“It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster how we've played overall,” he said. “One day we get good starting pitching, some days we don’t. The middle relief has been better and sometimes it hasn’t been. So, we’ve just got to put it all together and then play more as a team. And once we start doing that, we’ll be in good shape.”

The good news for the Astros is that Verlander will make his season debut Friday night when they open a series at Washington and Valdez should return soon after him.

“Framber and Justin have been a great part of our success in the last few years,” second baseman Jose Altuve said. “So, it’s always good to have those two guys back helping the team. We trust them and I think it’s going to be good.”

Hader signed a five-year, $95 million contract this offseason to give the Astros a shutdown 7-8-9 combination at the back end of their bullpen with Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly. But the five-time All-Star is off to a bumpy start.

He allowed four runs in the ninth inning of a 6-1 loss to the Braves on Monday night and has yielded eight earned runs this season after giving up the same number in 56 1/3 innings for San Diego last year.

He was much better Wednesday when he struck out the side in the ninth before the Astros fell to Atlanta in 10 innings for their third straight loss.

Houston’s offense, led by Altuve, Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, ranks third in the majors with a .268 batting average and is tied for third with 24 homers this season. But the Astros have struggled with runners in scoring position and often failed to get a big hit in close games.

While many of Houston’s hitters have thrived this season, one notable exception is first baseman José Abreu. The 37-year-old, who is in the second year of a three-year, $58.5 million contract, is hitting 0.78 with just one extra-base hit in 16 games, raising questions about why he remains in the lineup every day.

To make matters worse, his error on a routine ground ball in the eighth inning Wednesday helped the Braves tie the game before they won in extra innings.

Espada brushed off criticism of Abreu and said he knows the 2020 AL MVP can break out of his early slump.

“Because (of) history,” Espada said. “The back of his baseball card. He can do it.”

Though things haven’t gone well for the Astros so far, everyone insists there’s no panic in this team which won its second World Series in 2022.

Altuve added that he doesn’t have to say anything to his teammates during this tough time.

“I think they’ve played enough baseball to know how to control themselves and how to come back to the plan we have, which is winning games,” he said.

The clubhouse was quiet and somber Wednesday after the Astros suffered their third series sweep of the season and second at home. While not panicking about the slow start, this team, which has won at least 90 games in each of the last three seasons, is certainly not happy with its record.

“We need to do everything better,” third baseman Alex Bregman said. “I feel like we’re in a lot of games, but we just haven’t found a way to win them. And good teams find a way to win games. So we need to find a way to win games.”

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