EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — What did we learn Sunday night as the New York Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 10-7? Well, the victory means the Giants are one step closer to their first playoff berth since 2011. Let’s look at what else we learned.
What a defense!
The Giants’ offense made one play — a spectacular 61-yard catch-and-run by Odell Beckham Jr. That was all the defense needed.
In the first half, with the offense bumbling and stumbling all over MetLife Stadium, the defense held Dallas to one touchdown, keeping the Giants in the game.
In the second half, the staggering offense somehow found a way to give the Giants a lead. The defense made it stand up.
After the Giants took the lead, Dallas had five possessions. They punted three times, lost a fumble and turned the ball over on downs. The Cowboys got one fourth-quarter first down.
Congrats to the @Giants Defense for one hell of a game. Made me and every other retired Giant defender proud! Well done Coach Spagnuolo!!— Michael Strahan (@michaelstrahan) December 12, 2016
The Giants couldn’t stop ‘Zeke
Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott was held to a season-low 51 yards on 20 carries the first time the teams played. The Giants couldn’t control him this time. Elliott ran 24 times for 107 yards, 86 of those in the first half. What helped in the second half was getting a lead, which eventually forced the Cowboys to abandon the run.
Romeo, oh Romeo!
What an incredible game for the undrafted rookie from Notre Dame. Starting in place of the injured Jason Pierre-Paul, Okwara got picked on early by Dallas for a couple of big gains on running plays. He more than made up for that as the game wore on. Okwara had eight tackles, his first career sack, three hits on Dak Prescott and batted down one pass.
Okwara’s locker, incidentally, is the third one you come to when you enter the Giants’ locker room. Still in full uniform, Okwara was surrounded by reporters after the game.
“I knew I had to step up to the plate,” Okwara said. “He’s (JPP) obviously a great player. Can’t really replace a guy of his caliber. I just went out there and did my job.”
Odell and his latest magic trick
How fast is Odell Beckham Jr.? His 61-yard slant pass looked like an innocent completion. Each time a Dallas defender went for a tackle, though, Beckham seemed to have another burst of speed he could use to pull away.
Linebacker Jonathan Casillas said that Beckham has an extra gear no one else in the league possesses.
“He’s one of the most tremendous, explosive players I’ve ever seen in this game,” Casillas said. “He catches seven-yard passes and takes them 70 yards, 60 yards. I don’t know how many people have actually done that. Randy Moss maybe. I’m just glad he’s on this side.”
“He ignites the whole stadium. It gets really magical.”
You can judge Beckham’s “moonwalk” skills for yourself.
The offense is still a mess
The Giants won. They are 9-3. At this point they look almost certain to go to the playoffs. The offense, however, is still a disaster area.
Poor blocking and self-inflicted wounds have been hallmarks of the Giants’ offense all season, and they were again on Sunday night.
Eli Manning threw an interception and lost two fumbles. One fumble came when the ball slipped out of his hands. The other when he was crushed by Dallas defensive end Benson Mayowa, who simply ran around left tackle Ereck Flowers. Beckham dropped two passes, one on a perfectly thrown deep ball that should have been a touchdown. It was followed two plays later by the first of Manning’s two fumbles.
Victor Cruz had a drop. The Giants’ first possession was short-circuited by a holding penalty on Bobby Hart. A holding penalty on Marshall Newhouse wiped out a 21-yard run by Paul Perkins in the fourth quarter. The Giants averaged 2.8 yards rushing.
“Still some games left, I think our offense is going to get it together. I still believe in all those guys over there,” Casillas said. “We’ve got some Super Bowl champs over there. Got some Pro Bowl guys, All-Pros over there. Some very confident guys. I believe they can get it together.”