Dak Prescott opened up the week with a “we’re in playoff mode” quote knowing that his Cowboys can’t lose a game and expect to have any chance at the postseason. In fact, winning out isn’t a guarantee either but it’s the only hope they have. One team was playing for their playoff lives while the other was playing for pride. The Cowboys just had to weather whatever the Giants threw at them and simply outlast them.
The Cowboys had one of their better opening drives of the season but once again they couldn’t deliver when things got tight.
Cowboys get six first downs on opening drive, but stall at Giants' 3 an have to settle for a field goal. 16 plays and come away with just three points. Took up 7:46 though.— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) December 10, 2017
Cowboys take a 3-0 lead after a 16-play possession. That's just the 4th time this year they've gotten points on the opening possession.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) December 10, 2017
Still, I think I'd have tried harder to run the ball down by the goal line.
It just seems like the play-calling starts getting wacky in the red zone where it’s easy to see what they should be doing.
what a demoralizing drive for the Cowboys. 16 plays so you can get three points? Horrible second-down call. Keep running until it gets stopped.— Nick Eatman (@nickeatman) December 10, 2017
For the defense, they were fired up to have their fearless leader Sean Lee back but there were a few missed opportunities. They were eating the Giants’ rookie running back alive but couldn’t capitalize:
Jeff Heath obliterated him. #Cowboys have forced two fumbles in three plays.— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) December 10, 2017
More wacky than the Cowboys’ play-calling in the red zone was the officiating as the Giants were rewarded a first down on a fumble that went backwards:
I think that’s the closest you can get to a first down without getting it.— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) December 10, 2017
Believe they call that a bad call. https://t.co/nr5rfx5LyS— David Helman (@HelmanDC) December 10, 2017
The first quarter was an absolute snooze fest but how good is Sean Lee? Seriously, the linebackers were on point in this one:
Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens have combined for 12 tackles so far today.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) December 10, 2017
The Giants are still in the middle of their 1st possession.
Each team had one possession in the first quarter and the Giants were still at work on their first possession into the second quarter.
Cowboys and Giants are on pace for ~4 possessions each. We might make it back to Dallas in time for SNF— David Helman (@HelmanDC) December 10, 2017
It doesn’t happen often but the Cowboys’ finally got a holding call that forced the Giants to settle for three. It was excitement personified:
Benson Mayowa's a little feisty for Dallas today. Holding call on Giants helps finally stall Giants and force field goal attempt. 3-3. Giants answer Cowboys' 16-play FG drive with a 17-play FG drive.— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) December 10, 2017
Quick side note: It was about time someone call out poor officiating this season, Demarcus Lawrence had enough and made it public in his post-game interview:
Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence goes on an explosive rant about officiating, in particular, a lack of holding calls by linemen against him.— Joe Trahan (@JoeTrahan) December 10, 2017
And yes, Lawrence realizes he a fine is coming, whether he's got a point, or not. And yes, he probably does. pic.twitter.com/UU51xQi05p
A quick AMEN and back to the Tweetcap...
On the Cowboys’next drive, their passing offense would take one step forward and two steps back which has been one of their major problems this season.
Prescott hasn’t been good lately. But the Hannah catch makes me think about how seldom Dak’s receivers seem to help him by making truly difficult grabs. #4TheCowboys— Mike Doocy (@MikeDoocyFox4) December 10, 2017
That’s a perfect pass by Dak Prescott. Dez Bryant flat out dropped it. Could’ve possibly been 6.— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) December 10, 2017
And as I tweet about Dez, a drop by Beasley. There’s no way around how bad the Cowboys WRs have been in 2017. Baffling. #cowboyswire— David Helman (@HelmanDC) December 10, 2017
As another Cowboys’ drive was stalled, Dan Bailey was sent back out to give Dallas the lead:
Bailey clanks 53-yard FG off the right upright. Stays 3-3.— Drew Davison (@drewdavison) December 10, 2017
Dak is 5 of 10 and most of the incompletions aren't his fault. Then Dan Bailey misses 53-yard FG attempt. Bailey's first miss this year.— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) December 10, 2017
That’s not Janoris Jenkins there...so what gives?
Both teams traded punts before the Giants finally started finding ways to move the ball on the Cowboys’ defense.
First 3 plays by Cowboys D on this drive:— Brandon George (@DMN_George) December 10, 2017
Missed tackle by Anthony Hitchens
Missed tackle by Damien Wilson
Busted coverage to allow 35-yard gain
TE Evan Engram is literally the only player in a Giants uniform the Cowboys have to worry about getting downfield, and no one is near him for a 35-yard gain.— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) December 10, 2017
Rough series for Cowboys D. Several mistakes. Giants take advantage with 1-yard TD pass to TE Rhett Ellison. Giants lead, 10-3, with 2:07 left in 2nd quarter. Chants of "Eli Manning" break out here.— Brandon George (@DMN_George) December 10, 2017
The Giants drove down the field easily despite the fact that they’re a M*A*S*H unit. New York took the 10-3 lead and it was about time the Cowboys respond with points of their own before the half.
Cowboys have 3 points and 99 yards in the first half against the worst defense in the league. Another chance here to end half.— Brandon George (@DMN_George) December 10, 2017
I know. It’s a rivalry game. And the Giants have no pressure. And they’ve fired their coach, so they have renewed energy.— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) December 10, 2017
And, and, and...
All the “reasons” you can put out there, be my guest. Go nuts.
A loss by the #Cowboys today would be pathetic.
After having a rough outing up until this point, Dez Bryant decided to make a difference:
10-10 at the break. #Giants get ball to start second half.— Drew Davison (@drewdavison) December 10, 2017
Again...these dudes are good.
In one half of football, Sean Lee has 10 tackles. Anthony Hitchens has 7.— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) December 10, 2017
The #Cowboys linebackers are everywhere today.
When the Giants rolled back out there, the Cowboys were ready. They knew that New York was in the game because they allowed it to be so:
Giants are averaging 3.2 YPC, and Eli is averaging 6.2 YPA.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) December 10, 2017
It's a big if, I know. But if they can limit the busts, ala Evan Engram in the 1st half. That should be plenty good enough to get a win. #cowboyswire
It was a quick three-and-out for the Giants in the third quarter as the defense continued to clamp down with the help of their rookie cornerback:
Nice play on the jump ball by Jourdan Lewis, starting at right corner for Orlando Scandrick. Giants punt. #cowboyswire— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) December 10, 2017
Once again, miscues with the receivers kept this game closer than it ever had any business being. The Cowboys answered with a quick punt:
Even if that pass on 3-and-5 to Cole Beasley would have been complete, it would have been short of the first down marker.— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) December 10, 2017
On the Cowboys next offensive possession, they had a nice long run by Alfred Morris get called back by a hold on Jason Witten. Dak had an amazing play where he was seemingly sacked by Olivier Vernon, only to shake him off and get the ball to Morris.
Once again, it helps that your QB is 240 pounds and built like a middle linebacker. #cowboyswire— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) December 10, 2017
Dak Prescott's lower body strength on display. He was able to shake off Olivier Vernon and find Alfred Morris for an 11-yard gain. Impressive strength by the quarterback. https://t.co/EVzxxUWNUT— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) December 10, 2017
The Cowboys were forced to attempt another field goal but it was just a sad day at the office for number five:
Dan Bailey with his second missed field goal in the game, wide right from 50 yards.— Brandon George (@DMN_George) December 10, 2017
Heading into the fourth quarter tied up at ten, neither team looked like they wanted to claim the victory.
The Cowboys and Giants combined for 33 plays on their first two possessions of this game.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) December 10, 2017
On the ensuing 11 possessions, they've combined for 64 plays, an average of 5.8 plays per possession.
Giants game shows just how absurd it is to hear Cowboys continue to talk about making the playoffs this year.— One Cool Customer (@OCC44) December 10, 2017
Other than the one play to Dez Bryant, this entire offense’s usual suspects were completely absent:
Jason Witten doesn't have a catch yet today. His streak of 130 games with a catch was snapped Dec. 1 2016 in win over Vikings.— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) December 10, 2017
Sean Lee decided to give the Cowboys’ offense one more chance to prove him wrong as he blew up the Giants’ next drive.
Sean Lee with a huge read on a reverse to Sterling Shepard, dropping the Giants receiver for a 9-yard loss. Is that the play to spark a listless Cowboys' team? https://t.co/YDPW5PURDf— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) December 10, 2017
When the Cowboys’ offense got back on the field, they were done playing around with this 2-10 Giants team. Guys that were on milk cartons started to appear:
3rd and 2?— Cowboys Nation (@CowboysNation) December 10, 2017
Beasley. 54 yards. 1st down. pic.twitter.com/rQqrryaUPd
The Show Pony put Landon Collins on skates and seconds later the sure-fire Hall of Famer made his one and only catch count:
All of a sudden, it was as if the floodgates opened up and the Cowboys went into lights-out mode. The defense forced a quick exit for the Giants again and the offense converted another third and short in a huge way:
Unfortunately, Dan Bailey would add a missed extra point to the worst day of his professional career but it didn’t matter much. Chidobe Awuzie set up Sean Lee nicely as the Eli Manning we all know and love made his return:
Chidobe Awuzie makes a play on the ball, setting up Sean Lee for the INT and ending the game. pic.twitter.com/lDpQ6nqCXf— Cowboys Nation (@CowboysNation) December 10, 2017
You may have thought the game was over but Rod Smith decided he needed to clean his plate, dominating the opponent is a Smith tradition:
Tyron Smith— Cowboys Nation (@CowboysNation) December 10, 2017
All Aboard The Train To Sixville pic.twitter.com/iiCyWMSgty
Any last ditch effort to make something happen by the Giants was quickly squashed by the “Eater of Worlds”, the G.O.A.T., often imitated but never duplicated: Mr. Jeff Heath!
What a strange type of game but that’s life in the NFL. We tend to overreact to every single misstep only to be shut up in the end. Sure, the Cowboys struggled in the beginning but in the end, they outlasted the Giants and put them away with 20 unanswered points in one quarter. In the past two weeks, they’ve gone from being dominated in the second halves of games to pouring on the points.
Though slim, the chances to go 10-6 and make the playoffs are one inch closer. The Jaguars helped by beating the Seahawks but they’ll need a few more granted wishes. At 7-6, the Cowboys travel to Oakland for their last game without Ezekiel Elliott and though they lost three in a row, this team is starting to show some grit. The hope is absolutely alive no matter how many prayers have to be answered.