Cowboys 3 Stars: The redeemed, the restructured and the red head

For three and a half quarters the New York Giants were playing the type of game they’ve won the previous two weeks. Keep the score low, run the ball effectively, limit Daniel Jones’ impact, keep the defense fresh, and win game late.

With 5:31 left in the third quarter it was a struggle to find two stars for Dallas, let alone three. The Giants went up 13-6 on a Saquon Barkley, 36-yard breakaway touchdown on a defense that seemed to be wearing down. Barkley had over 70 yards on the ground and the only TD of the game to that point, but that is when the game changed, and the Cowboys took it over.

Dallas scored 17 points on their next three drives, and the defense held New York to seven plays, 22 yards, and two punts. Even KaVontae Turpin had an excellent punt return to set up a field goal. The whole team took over the game and got a lead the defense was unlikely to give up to Daniel Jones.

The Cowboys were propelled to victory by multiple strong performances, but only three people can be the stars of the game.

CeeDee Lamb

(AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

The third star of the game, Lamb highlighted exactly how his career has gone so far. He has his issues with drops and inconsistency, but he also ends up productive and a key to this offense’s success. In the first two games combined he had nine grabs for 104 yards. Monday night he almost doubled those totals with eight catches for 87 yards and his first touchdown.

The night began slowly as he had two receptions for 20 yards in the second quarter. That’s when Moore called his number for a big play. Dallas had just converted a 3rd-and-long with a toss sweep to Ezekiel Elliott for 27 yards. Rush ran play-action fake and went to Lamb on a deep crosser, but he couldn’t bring the ball in to complete the play.

The fanbase was almost as mad as he was at himself, but Lamb would refocus and play big later. With the game tied at 13 and just over 10 minutes left, Lamb made the play of the game, bringing in a four-yard pass while taking a big hit to convert on fourth down.

That play not only kept the lead-taking drive alive, but it was the jumpstart he seemed to need. He added a 26-yard catch, then a tough one-handed touchdown reception from the one-yard line.

Before the go ahead drive Lamb only had 39 total yards on 4 catches but he went for 48 yards that drive on the same number of receptions and added a TD that ended up being the game winner.

Demarcus Lawrence

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The second star of the game went to a man who was almost not on the team this year. Lawrence had to accept a contract restructure that lessened the money remaining, but turned it into guarantees.

Many in the fanbase would’ve been ok with losing Lawrence, believing that even though he did a lot of good things, the big contract he received was for pass rushers that put up big sack numbers. The fact that he was one of the best run-stopping defensive ends in the NFL, and that he had an excellent pass rush win rate didn’t matter because he wasn’t taking down the QB.

This year Lawrence has a bet with teammate Micah Parsons on who will get more sacks, and through the first two games Parsons had a four to zero lead. The mix of Giants sending help to anybody blocking Parsons, plus Parsons being sick all week, kept him from getting a sack for the first time this season. Lawrence took up the mantle though with three sacks of Daniel Jones.

Just four plays into the game Lawrence reminded the Giants who he was and why it was a bad idea to leave him one-on-one with a rookie offensive tackle. That set a tone for himself and the team. Lawrence only played 39 snaps, but he ended the night with seven pressures, four hurries, five stops, and three sacks. That is as an elite of a performance as any defensive coordinator could ask for and would be top star worthy in most contests.

Cooper Rush

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Rush does something any team would love from their backup quarterback. He takes care of the football, making sure he isn’t the reason his team loses. He has a five to one touchdown to interception ratio and a career QB rating of 95.4. That is great quality play out of a backup, but you need to step up even further to be the top star of the game. Cooper did that in the last 20 minutes, with the game on the line against the Giants.

Before the Giants went up 13-6, Cooper had only moved the ball for 81 yards in the air, but once Dallas started trailing, Rush stepped up to another level to lead his team to a come from behind victory. He led the offense on a nine play, 75-yard drive in which he hit all five of his passes for 64 yards and set up a game tying TD for Ezekiel Elliott. Then after the defense forced a punt, Rush took the offense on a 11 play, 89-yard touchdown drive where he completed seven of eight passes for 65 yards and the go-ahead score.

That’s 12-of-13 for 129 yards and a TD pass on drives to take the team from down seven to up a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Nobody would skip a beat if the starter Dak Prescott did that, but from the back up, that is worthy of the top star of the game,

You can find Mike Crum on Twitter @cdpiglet or at Youtube on the Across the Cowboys Podcast.

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Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire