Cowboys’ win over Giants might not be meaningless after all - Todd Archer, ESPN
With the fourth-seed locked up, the argument heading into Sunday’s game with the Giants was to sit the starters and give them an off week prior to the playoffs. Jason Garrett, minus a few exceptions, decided to treat this game as normal.
As a result, the Cowboys head into Saturday’s playoff game with momentum.
This was supposed to be a meaningless game.
So much for that being the case.
The Dallas Cowboys’ regular season ended with a 36-35 win against the New York Giants on Sunday to give them a 10-6 record.
Dak Prescott hit Cole Beasley with a 32-yard touchdown pass with 1:12 to play and Prescott hit Michael Gallup with the subsequent two-point play as the Cowboys overcame a late seven-point deficit to go into next week’s playoffs with momentum.
Good thing. The Cowboys have not won a playoff game with a loss in their final regular-season matchup since 1996.
“I don’t believe you could have drawn that up for our fans or for the players and created a better way to step into the playoffs,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “We got a lot of work ... A lot of people say, ‘My goodness, your starting quarterback playing every snap all the way,’ was a go, but the work he got in there going to all the receivers, having the game he had inspired everybody concerned and we’re a better team, I think, then when we got here this morning. That’s the way you would like to, if you could draw it up, go to the playoffs.”
Risk vs. reward: Why Cowboys’ gamble with Dak Prescott in New York could have a big postseason payoff - David Moore, SportsDay
Could the decision to play Dak pay off dividends in the playoffs?
Momentum is an impossible commodity to quantify. You have it until you don’t. After a come-from-behind 36-35 victory over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, the Cowboys are convinced they not only carry momentum into the playoffs, but it’s building heading into their wild-card matchup with Seattle.
”It definitely adds,” Prescott said. “You watch right there at the end, just the intensity of the offense, the sidelines...
”This means a lot to us.”
This game was all about risk/reward for a Dallas team locked into the No. 4 seed. The decision to sit Ezekiel Elliott shows the organization’s belief that a healthy, rested version of the NFL’s leading rusher is essential for a significant postseason run.
The decision to play Prescott illustrates the organization’s concern that the passing game was operating at such an inconsistent and inefficient level that it threatened to drag this team down.
None of the principals would make that concession publicly. It doesn’t matter. Their actions said it all.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott’s ‘insatiable appetite to be great’ was on display Sunday in New York - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Stephen Jones says that Dak is hungry to be great.
Dak Prescott again showed Sunday why he’s one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in the final minutes when the game is on the line.
For the 14th time in his career, the Cowboys quarterback executed a game-winning drive. No other quarterback has as many since Prescott entered the league in 2016. No other quarterback has as many in the first three years of their career since 1970.
”He’s got an insatiable appetite to be great,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said after Dallas’ 36-35 comeback win over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. “He’s got rare leadership skills and a rare it-factor. The best thing I like about him is he’s a winner.”
Faced with fourth-and-15 from the New York Giants’ 32-yard line with 1:20 remaining, Prescott escaped pressure by rolling to his left. Although it appeared he had enough room to scramble for a first down, Prescott launched a pass on the run toward the end zone from the 42-yard line.
With another game-winning drive against the Giants, Dak Prescott has more game-winning drives over the last three seasons than any other NFL QB. pic.twitter.com/mnDhg7EAwi— One Cool Customer (@OCC44) December 31, 2018
Cowboys complete the comeback, on Sunday and this season - Stefan Stevenson, The Star-Telegram
Sunday was kind of the Cowboys’ season in a nutshell.
1. From 3-5 to 10-6
Remember how you felt, Mr. and Mrs. Cowboys Fan, on Nov. 5? Your team had just been embarrassed on Monday Night Football at home by the Tennessee Titans. They were 3-5 and everyone in DFW had just about written the 2018 Cowboys’ epitaph. And for good reason. They were going nowhere.
But they did it. The Amari Cooper trade started to pay off, changes (including a coach) were made on the offensive line and the offense started showing signs of life. The Cowboys finished the season by going 7-1 with the only loss the forgettable shutout in Indianapolis when the NFC East title was already basically a given.
“It’s awesome man. We were down, we battled back,” said Beasley, who was referring to Sunday’s win but could have been talking about the season. “It was a back and forth game, nobody really knew which way it was going to go but we knew we had a chance. We’re going to fight to the finish, that’s the type of team we have.”
Of course, a quick exit in the playoffs will quickly and appropriately elicit a strong negative reaction, but for now, bask in the glory of one of the franchises better in-season rags-to-riches stories.
5 thoughts from Cowboys’ thrilling 36-35 win over Giants, including the first game ball of TE Blake Jarwin’s career - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Have yourself a day, Blake Jarwin!
Blake Jarwin is obviously getting a game ball after that performance. The tight ends haven’t been a huge part of the offense since Jason Witten retired, but Jarwin’s three-touchdown outing is a good sign entering the playoffs. He’s a player teams will have to be aware of coming off that breakout game.
”Blake’s been coming along each and every week,” Prescott said. “It’s been great just to see his progress. We’ve talked about it each and every week of the things he’s doing well and the things we want to get better at together on our connection.
”Just for him to come out tonight and have the game that he had. Great catches, some run after catch, getting open on that scramble. Credit to a guy that is just continuing to get better that has bought in and is going to have a good career.”
Can the momentum be real?
Can a team really build momentum off a “meaningless” season finale? The Cowboys might have proved that you can. If you had to pick between resting all of your starters and basically having a bye week or have that type of win, I think everyone would pick the way the Cowboys came out on top Sunday afternoon. Despite the defense’s lackluster performance, that game was about the offense building confidence. I think they accomplished that.
”Outside the locker room and inside the locker room have been two completely different messages all year long,” Prescott said. “People outside the locker room think one way and we think a different way. Going into this game, playing the New York Giants, we wanted to get win No. 10. You saw it out there. The intensity we played with, the ups and the downs, just how we stayed through it and just stayed positive, knowing that we were going to give ourselves a chance to come out in the end was a great win.”
Despite not having much success against Seattle, the Cowboys are optimistic about their chances at AT&T Stadium - Brandon George, SportsDay
The team is certainly ready to roll.
The Seahawks were 4-4 on the road and all four victories came against teams with losing records: Arizona (3-13), Oakland (4-12), Detroit (6-10) and Carolina (7-9).
”It’s good that we get a chance to do it on our turf,” Jones said. “They gave it to us on their turf, let’s see if we can do it at home against them. Seattle has been a tough thing for us the last few years, so it will be good to play Seattle in Dallas.”
The Seahawks have beaten the Cowboys four of the last five times they’ve played them since 2012, quarterback Russell Wilson’s rookie year. Seattle has won the last three against Dallas, with the Cowboys failing to score more than 13 points in any of the games.
DeMarcus Lawrence is hungry.
Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence said he can’t wait to play Seattle.
”We’re ready, man,” he said. “Ain’t no more talking at this point. It’s time to go to war.”
Scout’s Notebook: Kicking Concerns & More Notes - Bryan Broaddus, The Mothership
Broaddus offers his thoughts from the Cowboys’ fun win.
That last play was pretty cool.
Something I always remembered from the great John Madden in all those years that he broadcasted games: one knee equals two feet. I can’t say enough about Cole Beasley and his ability to make that play down the field. For the shortest receiver to keep his route alive and finish the way he did was one for the Cowboys history books. Give Dak Prescott credit as well for keeping his eyes down the field. There have been games where I have been critical of him for not seeing the whole field, but right there was a prime example of him doing just that.
Don’t be too concerned about the DB play.
I was asked by a fan on Twitter if I were concerned about the deep passes that the Giants were completing on the defense. As troubling as those completions might have looked, I didn’t feel like Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie or Anthony Brown were in terrible position to defend them. Two of those were unbelievable, one-handed receptions that were 50-50 balls at best. If the Giants receivers had been running past the secondary all afternoon, I could see the concern -- but I just felt it was well-positioned throws which these Giants receivers were able to pull down. All you can do is tip your cap to them as well played.
Seahawks and Cowboys are two hot teams set for a collision course in Dallas - Todd Miles, SportsDay
The Cowboys and Seahawks obviously met earlier this season, but both squads are playing at a high level in December.
With the exception of Chicago (which won nine of its past 10 games), no two teams playing in the NFL’s first playoff weekend have been on a better late-season winning streak than the Cowboys (winners of seven of their final eight) or the Seahawks (winners of six of their final seven).
Interestingly enough, many of Seattle’s key starters trace the teams’ Week 3 matchup -- a Seahawks’ 24-13 victory at home -- as a turning point for both Seattle and Dallas.
”They are similar to us,” Seattle defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson said. “They started slow, but then got their rhythm and got their running game to pick up. This is going to be a fun battle between two hungry teams.”
2018 NFL Playoffs wild card schedule, start times: Seahawks-Cowboys gets Saturday primetime slot - Mookie Alexander, Field Gulls
Seattle is undefeated at “JerryWorld” in the Russell Wilson era, and indeed haven’t even given up a touchdown at that stadium, holding the Cowboys to four field goals in 2015 and 2017. The Seahawks beat the Cowboys in Seattle 24-13 in Week 3 of this season, but that was with Doug Baldwin and Justin Britt not playing, Earl Thomas’ final full game of the year, and Dallas hadn’t yet traded for Amari Cooper. I’m sure the rematch will provide plenty of intrigue and a lot of eyeballs given the star power both teams possess.