There’s one thing we all know for sure about the NFC East: These teams all hate each other. The Giants and Cowboys are no exception.
As Big Blue gets ready to take on the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, let’s take a walk down memory lane with the five most memorable matchups between these division rivals.
1993 - The Emmitt Smith game
The first game on our list is one that didn’t go the Giants’ way. With the NFC East title on the line, legendary Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith had a game that would be a highlight of his Hall of Fame career. In the second quarter, after Smith had already racked up 151 yards of total offense, the running back separated his shoulder after a 46-yard rush when he was tackled by Greg Jackson.
Instead of coming out, Smith just had an extra pad put on his shoulder and stayed in the game. Even with the painful injury, Jimmy Johnson didn’t change the game plan one bit. Smith continued to carry the ball and get driven into the ground by the Giants’ defense.
January 2, 1994#DallasCowboys #Giants— Old Time Football (@Ol_TimeFootball) November 19, 2022
The Shoulder Game
Emmitt Smith (32-168 10-61-1) plays through a separated shoulder.
Winner clinches the #NFC East and home field
Pierce fumbles, Dallas recovers.#Cowboys FG#1993CowboysGiantsThread pic.twitter.com/8dwWB5JW3J
To make it even tougher on Smith, the game ended up going into overtime as the Giants tied it up at 13-all. Emmitt Smith carried the ball nine times on the 10-play overtime drive that set the Cowboys up to hit the game-winning field goal. Smith ended up with 229 total yards on 42 total touches. The game helped Smith win yet another rushing title and MVP for the season. It also locked up the No. 1 seed for the Cowboys in their eventual Super Bowl run.
2005 - Eli Manning gets his first career win
Eli Manning started his rookie season 0-6 after replacing Kurt Warner during the 2004 season. The season finale against the Dallas Cowboys is where we first saw glimpses of the player Eli Manning would become. Going into the fourth quarter of this game, the Cowboys were ahead 16-7 with Manning having one touchdown and one interception heading into the fourth quarter.
From that moment Eli Manning would go on to do what he ended up doing so well throughout his career. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Manning hit David Tyree for a 15-yard touchdown pass to pull the Giants into a one-score game 16-14. After a quick sack-fumble on Vinny Testaverde courtesy of Osi Umenyiora, the Giants were set up in the red zone. From there Eli Manning was able to connect with Tiki Barber on a short pass to give the Giants a 21-16 with a little over 12 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys responded with a lengthy drive that was dominated by Julius Jones and Jason Witten that lasted over 10 minutes. A Julius Jones touchdown run and Witten two-point conversion gave the Cowboys a 24-21 lead with only 1:52 left to play.
With only one timeout left and under two minutes to play, this would give Eli Manning the chance for his comeback victory. A 23-yard passing play with an added roughing the passer set the Giants up just outside the red zone. From there Tiki Barber took over to get the ball into the end zone to give the Giants a 28-24 lead with only 16 seconds to go. From there the Giants went on to win and gave Eli Manning not only his first career win, but his first career comeback win as well.
2007 - Giants win in the Divisional Round
This game would be the first and only time the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys would meet in the playoffs. The Giants came into the playoffs as the No. 5 seed and were coming off a win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Dallas Cowboys were the No. 1 seed in the NFC and had swept the Giants during the regular season.
The Giants made a statement to the Cowboys early that they were not intimidated to go against the team that swept them. Eli Manning and Amani Toomer connected on a deep 52-yard touchdown pass on the first drive to give the Giants a 7-0 lead. The Cowboys looked to take control in the second quarter behind a couple of touchdowns from Terrell Owens and Marion Barber to give the Cowboys a 14-7 lead with only 53 seconds left before halftime. It only took Eli Manning 46 seconds to respond, hitting Toomer for another touchdown pass after driving down the field to tie the game up before halftime.
2007: Divisional Round Week- On #NYGiants opening drive, they would stun Dallas. @EliManning would hit @AmaniAToomer who broke a tackle, got a great block by Hedgecock to clear 3 Cowboys & Roy Williams tripped & Toomer took off on 52 yard TD & 7-0 NYG lead #TogetherBlue pic.twitter.com/OZsA1JTOwr— BigBlueVCR (@BigBlueVCR) January 20, 2022
The offenses slowed down in the second half as the defensive adjustments were dialed in. After a 14-play opening drive for the Cowboys saw them take a 17-14 lead, the Giants again had to respond. After trading three and outs, the Giants orchestrated a scoring drive capped off by a Brandon Jacobs touchdown run at the goal line to give the Giants the 21-17 lead. After both offenses stalled out for most of the fourth quarter, the Cowboys started to put together a potential game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. Getting all the way down to the Giants’ 23 with only 26 seconds left to play, the defense responded. After a couple of incompletions, R.W. McQuarters intercepted Tony Romo in the end zone to seal the upset win for the Giants. The win over the divisional rival in Dallas was a memorable part of the Super Bowl run.
2011 - Giants win that sparks second Super Bowl run
Unlike the 2007 Divisional Round game, the 2011 regular season game did not have any slowdown in the offenses. The Giants were reeling after a 6-2 start to the season, losing four straight and needing a win desperately to right the ship and keep their playoff hopes alive. The defense got the first points on the board when Jason Pierre Paul sacked Tony Romo in the end zone for a safety. The Giants and the Cowboys traded scoring drives for the rest of the half and the Cowboys had a 17-15 lead going into halftime.
In the second half, The Giants and Cowboys again traded scoring drives but it was the Giants who took the lead into the fourth quarter 22-20. In the fourth quarter with everything on the line, fans were treated to one of the more memorable quarters in the history of the rivalry. Tony Romo connected with Miles Austin to give the Cowboys the lead at the start of the fourth quarter. With the Giants driving, the Cowboys’ defense stepped up and Sean Lee came away with an interception to make sure the Giants came away with no points. After that, it didn’t take long for the Cowboys to make the Giants pay. A 50-yard strike from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant gave the Cowboys a 34-22 lead with only 5:41 left in the game.
With half of the fourth quarter in the books and down two possessions, Eli Manning on the Giants’ offense had to deliver to keep the season from slipping away. The offense got right to work delivering an eight-play touchdown drive capped off by an Eli Manning touchdown pass to Jake Ballard to bring the Giants within five.
After a quick Cowboys three-and-out, the Giants got the ball back with 2:12 left in the game. The Eli Manning to Jake Ballard connection proved fruitful again, with two big plays between them setting up a Brandon Jacobs touchdown. A successful two-point conversion gave the Giants a 37-34 lead. The Cowboys would not go quietly, driving into field goal range in 40 seconds. Jason Pierre Paul again came up big blocking the would-be game-tying field goal and giving the Giants the win they so desperately needed that sparked their Super Bowl run.
️ Dec 11, 2011 - Trailing 34-22 with 5 minutes to play, Eli Manning marches the Giants down field for 2 TD's & JPP blocks Cowboys' FG for thrilling 37-34 #NYG win in Dallas. #DALvsNYG #TBT #NYGiantsFilms #TogetherBlue #ELIte pic.twitter.com/roOETFMy0P— NY Giants Films (@NYGiantsFilms) December 29, 2020
2014 - The Catch
This game unfortunately did not go the Giants’ way. One thing it did provide though, is the one catch that all catches since have been compared to. In the first play of the second quarter, Eli Manning faked the handoff and then fired a shot deep down the right side of the field. From there Odell Beckham Jr. made the most athletic catch anyone had seen to date.
The catch helped give the Giants a 14-3 lead which eventually became a 21-10 lead going into halftime. Unfortunately for the Giants, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant stole the show, orchestrating two touchdown drives, including a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys ended up taking this one over the Giants 31-28.
Now we’ll see if this season’s Thanksgiving matchup will be one for the history books.