EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — One play, a 61-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Odell Beckham Jr. That third-quarter play was about the first, and pretty much only, thing the New York Giants offense did right Sunday night. Thanks to outstanding work from the defense it was enough as the Giants earned a 10-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
With the victory the Giants (9-4) kept their slim NFC East title hopes alive. The Cowboys (11-2) could have clinched the division with a victory. After watching all of the teams chasing them (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers) in the NFC wild-card race win on Sunday the Giants maintained their hold on the No. 5 seed. There are three games remaining.
“This is a great game for us,” said linebacker Jonathan Casillas. “People say it’s a statement game. I’ll take it, it is a statement game ... we beat ‘em. They got two losses, and they’re both to the New York Giants.”
For two quarters and most of third the Giants simply could not get out of their own way on offense. Drops, penalties, turnovers had Dallas leading, 7-3.
Then, with 1:18 left in the third quarter Manning hit Beckham on a slant pass. Beckham split the defenders and raced untouched 61 yards. The extra point gave the Giants a 10-7 lead. That is how it stayed.
“This is how you need to win them in December. It's not going to always be pretty, it's going to be in the elements. You stick together, stick with each other and keep believing,” said Giants coach Ben McAdoo.
Much, make that most, of the credit for the victory goes to the Giants’ defense. Despite giving up 107 yards rushing on 24 carries to Ezekiel Elliott, the defense was outstanding.
The Giants held Dallas to 1-of-15 on third downs. They intercepted Cowboy quarterback Dak Prescott twice (Janoris Jenkins, Leon Hall). This was the first multi-interception game for the ballyhooed Dallas rookie quarterback. He had only thrown two interceptions in the first 12 Cowboys’ games. The Giants generated three sacks, and also had a fumble recovery.
The defense clinched the victory with 2:13 left when Jenkins forced a Dez Bryant fumble. Landon Collins recovered, returned the ball to the Cowboys’ 38-yard line.
Dallas got the ball back at its own 2-yard line with 1:06 left after a Brad Wing punt was downed by Dwayne Harris. The Cowboys were, however, unable to move off the goal line, turning the ball over on downs with :48 left after four straight incomplete passes.
Beckham caught four passes for 94 yards. The touchdown gave him 34 in his career, most thrown by Eli Manning to any receiver. Beckham had been tied at 33 with Plaxico Burress.
Manning completed 17-of-28 passes for 193 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also fumbled twice.
Rashad Jennings and Paul Perkins both ran 15 times for 45 yards.
Romeo Okwara, who started at defensive end in place of the injured Jason Pierre-Paul, had his first career sack, eight tackles, three quarterback hits and a pass defensed.
“Romeo had a day today,” Casillas said.
Hello, and goodbye, to Shane Vereen
The Giants waited 11 weeks for running back Shane Vereen to return from a Week 3 torn triceps. They lost him to a concussion early in the second quarter after his first catch. Vereen left the field immediately and did not return.
The schedule doesn’t get a whole lot easier for the Giants next Sunday in what will be their final regular-season home game of the 2016 season. They host the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions at 1 p.m. ET. The 9-4 Lions have won five straight games. The Giants then finish the season with road games against the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins.