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Five non-scoring plays that shaped the Cowboys game against the Giants

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It was closer than it should’ve been, but Dallas got the win

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Coming out of a bye week on the road in New Jersey, not many people were sure of what to expect from the Cowboys on Monday night. And the reason for that was quickly justified, as the Cowboys kept the lowly Giants in the game for far too long before padding the box score for what looked like a blowout victory. These five non-scoring plays were a big reason why the game was so close.

Dak Prescott’s inexplicable interception on the opening play

Dak Prescott has always been known for his ball security, and he rarely turns it over. That’s been an issue for him this year, though, and it reared its ugly head on the Cowboys’ first play of the game.

It seems as if Prescott just didn’t see Bethea, as the safety pretty much squared Dak up and read his eyes as he tried to throw the quick strike on a slant. The result was a fairly easy play for the safety, and it immediately set the tone that this wasn’t going to be a cakewalk for the Cowboys like the last time these two teams played each other.

Randall Cobb’s bad fumble kills the Cowboys’ drive

Self-inflicted wounds was yet again the theme for the Cowboys in this game. After the Giants jumped out to a 9-3 lead, Dak and the offense were trying to score and take a one-point lead. After getting to the Giants’ 37-yard line, Prescott found Randall Cobb across the middle of the field for what would’ve been a first down. Instead, this happened:

The ball pops out in a nearly comical way and it’s an easy recovery for Bethea, once again. It killed the momentum of a drive that could have put Dallas ahead and instead gave the ball back to the Giants. It was yet another instance where the Cowboys kept the other team in the game by shooting themselves in the foot.

Xavier Woods makes a great pick to shift the momentum

After the touchdown pass to Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys trailed 12-10 with under a minute to go in the first half. The Giants, though, were trying to get a quick score in order to stop the momentum from shifting away from their side. On third and ten, Daniel Jones tried to throw it deep and Xavier Woods easily thwarted it.

The Cowboys ran a simple Cover 3 shell with Woods as the center field safety, and when the ball was released he just broke to the ball quickly. It wasn’t a particularly bad pass, but Woods’ recognition, speed, and ball skills took advantage of the lofted ball. Afterwards, Woods did an even better job by returning the ball for 29 yards, ultimately leading to the Cowboys kicking a field goal to enter the locker room with a slim lead.

Xavier Woods knocks the ball loose, Darian Thompson recovers it

After both teams punted on their opening drives of the second half, Dallas still held a one-point lead. Facing third and six in their own territory, Jones scrambled out of the pocket and was barreling towards the first down line. With both Jourdan Lewis and Woods running up to him, Jones tried to dive for the extra yard he needed, but forgot to hold onto the ball.

The ball squirted out and traveled about six yards forward, where Darian Thompson pounced on it. Upon further review, it was Woods who got a hit on the ball to knock it loose as Jones went to the ground. The Cowboys managed to get a field goal as a result, widening the lead a bit more.

Questionable pass interference call helps save Cowboys’ offensive drive

Early in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys were holding onto a narrow 23-18 lead and looking to put some distance between them and the Giants. Facing a third and six from their own 15-yard line, Dak took a deep shot down the sideline to Amari Cooper, who was covered one-on-one by rookie cornerback Deandre Baker.

The pass fell incomplete, but a flag was thrown on Baker for pass interference. On review, the call seemed questionable, as there was some hand-grabbing on both sides but nothing particularly egregious. Instead of having to punt the ball back to the Giants from their own 15, the Cowboys got a first down close to midfield. Six plays later, Dak found Coop for a touchdown, which seemed to ice the game. But that would have never happened without the penalty.