The New York Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 23-19, Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium, solidifying their chance at a playoff berth. If the Washington Football Team loses to the Philadelphia Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, the Giants will advance to the postseason.
New York improved to 6-10 with the win and the Cowboys dropped to 6-10.
After a big interception by Xavier McKinney in the end zone with 1:24 left in the game, the Giants got the ball back. But a fumble by Wayne Gallman at the Giants 33-yard line threatened to give the ball right back to the Cowboys. The play was reviewed and ultimately upheld, allowing New York to maintain possession and run out the clock.
In a game that the Giants had to win, they got off to a strong start on their opening drive. Gallman took advantage of the Cowboys’ worst rush defense in the league with a couple of strong runs. Daniel Jones showed some mobility in the pocket for the first time since suffering his hamstring injury when he rushed for seven yards. The Giants capped off a six-play, 78-yard scoring drive with a 23-yard touchdown run by Sterling Shepard - the first rushing TD of his career. Graham Gano missed the extra point, but New York took an early 6-0 lead at 11:55 in the first quarter.
The Giants almost got the ball right back when safety Xavier McKinney intercepted Andy Dalton’s throw at the Dallas 40-yard line. But a holding penalty on cornerback Darnay Holmes gave Dallas the first down. A big sack by linebacker Blake Martinez for a loss of eight yards on third down forced the Cowboys to punt though, ending the drive and giving the Giants back the ball.
On New York’s following possession, Gallman fumbled the football and it was recovered by the Cowboys on the Giants 23-yard line. Dallas took advantage of the takeaway with a 38-yard field goal to cut the Giants’ lead in half.
After a strong 20-yard punt return by Jabrill Peppers at 11:55 in the second quarter, the Giants got the ball at their own 47-yard line. New York was not able to take advantage of the good field position though and punted the ball for the third straight time.
New York stopped the streak of punts on their following possession when Jones connected with Shepard for a 10-yard touchdown pass at 6:55 in the second quarter to cap off a six-play, 65-yard scoring drive.
Up 13-6, New York got the ball back with 2:13 left in the first half. An 18-yard pass to Shepard followed by a defensive pass interference call on the Cowboys gave New York the ball at the Dallas 33-yard line. Jones then connected with Dante Pettis for a 33-yard touchdown with 52 seconds left in the half, giving New York a 20-6 advantage.
After a 57-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein, the score stood at 20-9 heading into the locker room.
The Giants’ first drive of the second half was cut short when Evan Engram dropped a pass that tipped up high and was intercepted by Donovan Wilson. The Cowboys got the ball back on their own 43-yard line. Dallas took advantage of the turnover when Ezekiel Elliott rushed for a one-yard touchdown at 8:44 in the third quarter to pull the Cowboys within four.
On first-and-10 at the Dallas 47-yard line at 6:44 in the third, a questionable illegal crackback call was called on Shepard, which pushed the Giants back 15 yards. The penalty cut short the makings of a good drive for New York.
The Giants were held scoreless in the third quarter as momentum shifted in Dallas’ favor in the second half. The Cowboys had eight first downs in the third quarter alone compared to just two for New York.
New York got off to a better start in the fourth quarter when back-to-back catches by Shepard for 21 and 13 yards apiece set the Giants up at the Dallas 36-yard line. After a sack by Donovan Wilson forced the Giants into a third-and-16 situation, Jones connected with Pettis for 10 yards. It looked like the ball hit the ground, but New York rushed its field goal unit onto the field before the Cowboys could challenge the play. The 50-yard kick by Gano was good, making it 23-19.
With 2:32 left to play in the game, the Cowboys converted on fourth-and-2 to keep their drive alive. But on third-and-17 with 1:24 on the clock, Dalton’s pass was intercepted by McKinney in the end zone to give the Giants back the ball. It seemed like the Giants would have control for the remainder of the game but Gallman fumbled the football at the Giants 33-yard line. The play was reviewed because it looked like Dallas might have recovered the ball, but the ruling on the field was upheld.
New York managed to hold the Cowboys off for the 23-19 win.
The Giants led the Cowboys, 20-9, at the half. It was a step up from the past two weeks when New York was held to just three points in the first half against the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. The Giants had strong field position throughout, getting the ball on their own 35, 47 and 35-yard line.
Meanwhile, the Giants defense had a strong half, holding Dallas to three straight three-and-out’s. The defense also applied pressure on Dalton throughout. They recorded three sacks for a total loss of 22 yards and four quarterback hits.
The Giants ran 32 first-half plays to 34 for the Cowboys, and New York held the ball for 15:17 to 14:43 for Dallas. The Giants had 239 offensive first-half yards while the Cowboys recorded 113.
Jones finished the half 10 of 15 for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Dalton was 11 of 20 for 99 yards.
Shepard had a big first half, recording four receptions for 53 yards and one touchdown. He also had two rushing attempts for 24 yards and one touchdown.
Jones was 17-of-25 for 229 yards and two touchdowns.
Shepard recorded eight receptions for 112 yards and one touchdown. He also had two rushing attempts for 24 yards and one touchdown.
Gallman had 11 rushing attempts for 65 yards in the game.
Hot start— New York Giants (@Giants) January 3, 2021
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54 = TACKLING MACHINE— New York Giants (@Giants) January 3, 2021
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SHEP GETTIN' AFTER IT!— New York Giants (@Giants) January 3, 2021
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DANNY— New York Giants (@Giants) January 3, 2021
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Channeling the helmet catch on Tyree's birthday— New York Giants (@Giants) January 3, 2021
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LET'S GOOOOOOO!— New York Giants (@Giants) January 3, 2021
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The Giants will wait to see who wins tonight’s match-up between the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles to determine if they will advance to the postseason.