Two games against New York's, or rather New Jersey's, NFL teams have equated to two victories for the Dallas Cowboys by a combined score of 70-10 -- 40-0 vs. the Giants in Week 1 and 30-10 vs. the Jets in Week 2. Dallas' dominant two-game start puts it in a rare air as only the third team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to score 70 or more points and allow just 10 points or fewer in its first two games of a season. The other two-such teams are the 1970 Detroit Lions and the 2019 New England Patriots.
In Week 2, Cowboys two-time First-Team All-Pro linebacker Micah Parsons and the Dallas defense starred once again, CeeDee Lamb stuffed the stat sheet and the offense couldn't quite finish in the red zone. Here's a look at some of the biggest storylines from the Cowboys' second victory in two weeks and whether or not they are overreactions.
Cowboys look like the NFL's best team
Overreaction or Reality: Reality
Dallas leads the NFL in points scored (70), points allowed (10), point differential (+60), giveaways (zero), takeaways (seven), turnover margin (plus-seven), total yards per game allowed (193.0), yards per play allowed (3.5), red zone touchdown percentage allowed (zero percent), sacks (10, tied with the Commanders), quarterback pressure rate (63.6%) and passer rating allowed (34.2).
While they did face off against two struggling teams in the Jets (offense) and Giants (offense and defense), they did more than just beat them -- they crushed them.
"It's extremely fun," Parsons said postgame on Sunday. "When you're playing great, balanced football from special teams to offense to defense, it's extremely fun. We're just having so much fun with this group. I think everyone knew this group would be special. You don't realize how special yet, but we're showing it."
Cowboys Pro Bowl cornerback Trevon Diggs revealed Dallas believes that no other team in the league can actually defeat them if they play a clean ballgame.
"If we don't shoot ourselves in the foot, no one can beat us," Diggs said postgame on Sunday.
Sure, there are 15 games remaining in the regular season, but based on the results so far, it's hard to argue with Diggs.
Parsons is the Defensive Player of the Year and worthy of MVP consideration
Overreaction or Reality: Reality
Parsons was the 2022 NFL Defensive Player of the Year runner-up last season. This year, he is coming for first place.
"When I talk about Defensive Player of the Year, I don't look at the subject of the award," Parsons said postgame on Sunday. "I look at the subject and say 'I want to be the best player in the NFL.' So whatever comes with that, I don't think just qualify myself as just a defensive player. I think I'm a most valuable player."
Parsons put together what may have been his most dominant, all-around outing in the Cowboys' 30-10 defensive deconstruction of the Jets. He finished with two sacks, six quarterback pressures, three tackles for loss, a forced fumble on Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook and a fumble recovery. Parsons also almost came away with a touchdown on this play, but replay review revealed Jets guard Laken Tomlinson was touching him as he recovered the football on the AT&T Stadium turf.
"I've been telling the guys all year: single back, bunch to your side, whether it's in motion or whatever, how they try to portray and make it look, you know, there's always a 70% chance that crack toss," Parsons said. "I instantly read the play and came over the top to see the play. He tried to find a way to get away from me. So I just kind of grabbed the ball because he exposed it. I figured where I grab one and get up, do what I do and get into the end zone. So, you know, that's kind of how it is."
His explosion off the line of scrimmage (0.57 seconds per pass rush) against the Jets when rushing the passer ranked as the quickest in the NFL for a single game played since the start of the 2022 season, according to Next Gen Stats. Parsons leads the entire NFL so far this season with a 21.8% quarterback pressure rate among players who have rushed the passer at least 40 times.
"He's special," Cowboys cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and 12-year NFL veteran, said of Parsons postgame on Sunday. "I have never seen anything like him."
Through two games in 2023, Parsons' 12 quarterback pressures are the third-most in the league behind Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson's and Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt's 13, and his three sacks are tied for the third most in the NFL, trailing only Watt's and Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter's four. If he can maintain his relentless play as both a run defender and a pass-rusher while continuing to generate takeaways, Parsons will walk away from this season with a lot of hardware. If he did win MVP, he would be the first defender to do so since Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker and New York Giants legend Lawrence Taylor.
Dallas' red zone offense is broken
Overreaction or reality: Overreaction
The good news about Dallas' red zone offense is rookie kicker Brandon Aubrey is as reliable as it gets. He was literally perfect on Sunday with 16 points -- five field goals and one made extra point. His five made field goals are tied for the third most in a single game in team history. Aubrey is the first Cowboys kicker with five field goals in a game since Dan Bailey nailed five in a 37-36 loss against the Green Bay Packers in Week 15 of the 2013 season.
The bad news is he had to spread four of those makes across two-thirds of the Cowboys' six red zone drives on Sunday. Dallas' 50% red zone touchdown rate this season through two games is tied for 21st in the NFL. However, that isn't a reason to panic going forward for a couple reasons. One is Dallas was without No. 2 wide receiver Brandin Cooks on Sunday with a knee injury, which allowed the Jets defense to zero in on CeeDee Lamb, limiting quarterback Dak Prescott's options close to the end zone. Two, head coach Mike McCarthy got more conservative with his play calls as the Cowboys' lead continued to grow, which may have limited touchdown opportunities. However, it allowed for Dallas to continue to play turnover-free football through two weeks.
With a healthy lineup and in a more tightly contested game, the Cowboys will most certainly open up the red zone playbook.
Cowboys' passing game to remain one-dimensional CeeDee Lamb Show in 2023
Overreaction or reality: Overreaction
Dallas Cowboys 2022 Second-Team All-Pro wide receiver CeeDee Lamb is one of the NFL's best wideouts. A year ago, with no clear-cut No. 2 pass-catching option, he totaled a career-high 107 catches, 1,359 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns. Those 107 catches were 50 more than the next-closest Cowboy, tight end Dalton Schultz's 57. That led to Lamb accounting for 30% of Dallas' team receptions in 2022, the second-highest rate in the NFL behind only Miami Dolphins All-Pro Tyreek Hill's 32% rate.
Through two games in 2023, one rain-soaked contest (Week 1 at the Giants) and one in which new No. 2 receiver Brandin Cooks missed with a knee injury (Week 2 vs. the Jets), Lamb is up to 15 catches and 220 yards in 2023. Eleven of his catches and 143 of his yards this season came on Sunday. His season totals make Lamb the only player in the NFL to make up over half (55.3%) of his team receiving yards in 2023. Running back Tony Pollard's 49 receiving yards are currently Dallas' second-highest total.
That figure certainly won't last through 17 games, and it's unlikely he'll even be at the 30% mark in 2023 once Cooks returns and the Cowboys play in more competitive contests where throwing the football is necessary as that will create more chances for others. However, Lamb will very much remain Dak Prescott's top option.
"Eighty-eight is one of the best in the game, and he's going to continue to get better and show that week in and week out," Prescott said of Lamb postgame on Sunday.