The Dallas Cowboys were able to move to 5-3 and stay in the driver’s seat of the NFC East after defeating the New York Giants (2-7) Monday at MetLife Stadium, 37-18.
While Dallas was able to walk away with the victory, they didn’t exactly put their best foot forward to start. On the very first play Dak Prescott thew an interception and put the Giants inside the Cowboys’ 10 yard line. The offense also stalled out in the red zone early, settled for field goals and Randall Cobb handed New York the football again with a fumble in the second quarter.
All those miscues allowed the Giants to go up by as much as 12-3, but, luckily for Dallas, New York didn’t take full advantage of their opportunities either. When they were handed the ball at the Dallas eight to start the game, they couldn’t go the rest of the way for a touchdown and settled for three, a common theme throughout the night.
After Dallas eventually clawed back and took a 23-15 lead in the second half, the Giants finally were able to unleash Saquon Barkley for a 65-yard gain to bring them to the Cowboys 11 yard line. But the trend of not being able to score touchdowns reared its ugly head again and they came away with just three points.
From there, Dallas went on an eight-play, 89-yard drive that culminated in a 45-yard touchdown catch and run by Amari Cooper. At that point, the game was completely out of reach.
Daniel Jones completed 26 of his 41 passes for 210 yards, a touchdown and a pick on the night. Meanwhile, Prescott turned in a 257 yard passing performance with three touchdowns and a pick . As for the star running backs, Ezekiel Elliot, 139 yards rushing, was a far more consistent weapon than Saquon Barkley, who finished with 95 yards from scrimmage, as the Giants struggled to get him in space.
From here, the Cowboys will head home to face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football. The Giants will regroup and stay in town as they’ll play their MetLife Stadium roommate in the New York Jets.
Oh yeah, there was a black cat on the field tonight and it was glorious.
Let’s take a deeper dive into how the Cowboys took care of the Giants on the road:
Why the Cowboys won
They scored touchdowns. Seriously. On a night when New York was almost completely inept in the red zone, the Cowboys didn’t even need trips inside the Giants’ 20-yard line to put six on the board, scoring two different touchdowns of more than 40 yards. Dak Prescott wasn’t very inspiring to start Monday night’s game, but he capitalized on New York’s porous secondary as the contest wore on, feeding Randall Cobb and Jason Witten over the middle, then sealing Dallas’ big win with a deep strike to Amari Cooper in the fourth. Ezekiel Elliott made it all easier by keeping the G-Men honest with more than 130 yards on the ground, while the Cowboys pass rush made enough of an impact to rattle any Giants chance of scoring more than three points at a time, with Demarcus Lawrence, Michael Bennett and Robert Quinn all pushing the pocket.
Why the Giants lost
First off, their secondary remains a blatant liability. That just has to be restated, because we’ve been seeing their holey defensive backfield hurt them all year. Even their top play-maker, Antoine Bethea, who had a pick and fumble recovery early on, looked utterly drained by the fourth quarter — particularly on Cooper’s game-sealing 45-yard TD catch, when the veteran safety was stopped dead in his tracks while trying to change directions in the open field. Really, though, the reason New York lost is that Big Blue never capitalized on the opportunities Dallas gift-wrapped them early and often. You can blame Daniel Jones for coughing up another fumble while trying to be too aggressive. You can blame Pat Shurmur for dialing up dink-and-dunk nonsense and ignoring Saquon Barkley for too long. Regardless, four FGs in five red-zone trips is unacceptable.
There’s an argument to be made that the Cowboys took ownership of Monday’s game as early as the second quarter, when Prescott’s short pass-turned-long-score by Blake Jarwin — another demonstration of the Giants secondary’s gaping holes — erased almost an entire half worth of New York momentum. Shurmur calling on Jones to fling the ball deep on the ensuing drive was equally impactful, allowing Dallas to take a lead going into the break. But things really turned in the third with the Giants driving toward midfield and down just one point. Jones saw a clear lane up the middle of the field on a third-and-six, bolted forward and threw himself toward the marker for a passionate attempt at a new set of downs, which was all fine and dandy — except that he fumbled the ball on the way down, setting up another Cowboys FG and wasting great field position.
Play of the game
Barkley did his best to crack the highlight reel by taking a Jones dump-off 65 yards to put the Giants in the red zone late in the game (don’t worry; New York didn’t punch it in), and his teammate, Golden Tate, did his best Odell Beckham Jr. impression by making a one-handed sideline grab near the goal line early on. But Michael Gallup was equally as acrobatic on his 15-yard TD in the third quarter, concentrating for a sideline grab, then tiptoeing and leaping his way into the end zone to put Dallas up 23-15:
“The Giants won’t go anywhere with Pat Shurmur as (head coach). I’ve seen enough. His system is better than (Ben) McAdoo’s, but that’s not saying much. His situational coaching, play-calling mix, inability to maximize Barkley as a receiver and inability to design specific game plans is comical.”
Those remarks are obviously not from either team, but rather from CBS Sports NFL staffer and resident Giants follower, Dan Schneier. And harsh as they may sound, they’re hard to argue with after one and a half seasons of Shurmur running the show in the Big Apple. Monday was a game Shurmur’s team could’ve easily stolen, despite what the final score suggests, and yet another week of poor in-game decision-making doomed everyone under his wing — the franchise QB, the star RB and everything in between.
The Cowboys (5-3) will be back in prime time on Nov. 10 for a “Sunday Night Football” showdown with the Minnesota Vikings (6-3), who are fresh off a last-second loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Giants (2-7), meanwhile, will stay “home” for a matchup with their Big Apple counterparts, the New York Jets (1-7), that same day at 1 p.m. ET.
Relive all the action from Monday night’s rivalry right here: