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Five plays that shaped the Cowboys game against the New York Giants

Now that’s more like it! Which five plays were the most important?

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys offense rebounded in a big way, scoring enough points to enjoy a defense that was stout for roughly 3.75 quarters of the game. In the end, Dallas walked out with a 20-13 win that put them in first place in the NFC East after both Philadelphia and Washington lost earlier in the day. It was a convincing win despite the close score, and here are five plays that defined the game.

Dak bombs it to Tavon Austin for a 64-yard touchdown

The Cowboys received the opening kickoff and sent out an offense that needed to make a statement. Their first play was a nine-yard pass to Allen Hurns, and then Ezekiel Elliott ran two yards for a first down. Just moving the chains was a good sign, but then Dak Prescott went back on first and ten and delivered this beautiful bomb to a streaking Tavon Austin, who caught it and then proceeded to smoke Janoris Jenkins on his way to an electrifying touchdown to open the game.

Dak keeps it on the option for a big first down run

After the defense got the ball back on a punt, Dak and the offense went back onto the field looking to keep moving the ball. It started with a 12-yard pass to Deonte Thompson, and then Zeke busted off a 19-yard run. Then, there was a very inventive reverse play where Zeke flipped it to Tavon and he picked up a 15-yard run.

The next play helped set a tone for Prescott on the evening of using his legs when the team ran a zone read-option. The defensive end crashed hard on the handoff to Zeke, so Dak kept it and ran outside for another 15 yards and the first four plays of this drive had resulted in 61 yards. The drive ended up with just a field goal, but it was still very promising to have two consecutive scoring drives.

DeMarcus Lawrence sacks Eli Manning, kills drive

Near the end of the first half, Eli Manning and the Giants offense started to move the chains. With just under a minute left, Saquon Barkley picked up a first down at about midfield and it looked like the Giants might be able to go down and score before heading to the locker room.

That’s when the Tank decided to step in. After the Giants went no-huddle, Lawrence looped to the inside of the offensive line and burst through a wide open hole to bring Manning down. New York had to use a timeout and the nine-yard loss killed the drive, making them punt two plays later before heading to halftime scoreless.

Damien Wilson with the strip sack, and Taco scoops up the ball

After Lawrence’s sack killed a promising drive for the Giants before halftime, New York entered the second half trying to do something offensively. On second and ten from their own 40-yard line, on the opening drive of the half, Damien Wilson penetrated through the line and sacked Manning, who fumbled the ball as he went to the ground. Taco Charlton, who had picked up a sack earlier, was already swinging around the outside edge and was right there to pounce on the ball. The Cowboys recovered the ball at the Giants’ own 27-yard line.

It was a huge momentum boost for Dallas, as their defense went right in and took the ball away from Eli, setting their offense up in great position. The Cowboys managed just three points out of it, but that made the score 13-0 and seemed to suck the life out of the Giants for most of the rest of the game.

Zeke runs in six yards for a touchdown

The Cowboys offense started with the ball at their own 18-yard line with just over 14 minutes in the fourth quarter, and they executed a long, methodical drive that chewed up the clock. At one point, Ezekiel Elliott had a great 19-yard run that saw him bounce off defenders and had fans on their feet. Dak also had a really good rush on an option keeper that set up a third and two play where Zeke ran it in for a touchdown.

He got hit early, but the second effort and sudden burst got him home to the endzone to make it a 20-3 score. The Giants would then make a comeback effort that fell short, but this touchdown from Elliott after eating so much clock extended the lead so much that any comeback effort was simply too-little, too-late, and Dallas picked up their first win of the season.

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