Three unsung heroes from Cowboys' Week 1 win at Giants


The Cowboys were locked in on Sunday during their dominant 40-0 victory over the Giants in the opening game of the season.

There was plenty of praise for Micah Parsons, Juanyeh Thomas, Osa Odighizuwa, and others in the aftermath of the blowout. But in a game with so many impressive individual performances, it’s easy to overlook a few players who contributed to that effort.

Here are three players who haven’t gotten enough credit for their contribution to Dallas’ overwhelming defeat of New York:

EDGE Dante Fowler

The Cowboys had 7 sacks in week 1, and Dante Fowler wasn’t one of the players who got in on the action, so he might be easy to overlook, but Fowler was a frequent problem for the Giants in this game.

Fowler registered four pressures in the game, and he batted down two passes from Daniel Jones. His efficient production came on fewer than half of the defensive snaps.

Fowler is a favorite of Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, with Quinn recruiting him to Florida over a decade ago, bringing him to the Falcons when he was head coach in Atlanta, and partnering up for a third time last season here in Dallas. Fowler knows what Quinn wants, and Quinn knows exactly how to use his skill set.

WR Brandin Cooks

Sunday was all about the defense for the Cowboys, with minimal highlights on the offensive side of the ball. So when you look for standouts, it might be a little curious to see Brandin Cooks here, seeing how he had just two catches for 22 yards.

Cooks gets the nod here because of the same subtleties that have made him one of the most consistent receivers in the game for the last decade. Cooks came through on a key 4th down opportunity in the first half while the game was still in question, making a catch over the middle, and holding on through a punishing hit. He also did a nice job selling a questionable pass interference call that kept the drive alive after Dak Prescott failed to connect with Cooks on a 3rd down pass. Cooks would bail out another failed 3rd down attempt, this time on a throw to CeeDee Lamb, by drawing an illegal contact penalty on the other side of the field.

DT Johnathan Hankins

Hankins’ calling card is his run defense, which was strong again on Sunday, but he also flashed a little bit of pass rush ability in this game.

What Hankins brings to the table as a guy who isn’t going to allow blockers to move him out of the interior, is incredibly valuable to the Cowboys. He consistently gives guys clean gaps to run through and make plays on the ball. Nobody expects much from him in terms of pressuring the quarterback, so when he’s able to do that like he did on Sunday, in addition to his ability against the run, it makes Hankins a critical piece to the Cowboys’ prospects of being the best defense in the NFL this season.

Featured Image Photo Credit: (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)