The Cowboys victory over the Giants simultaneously put them in first place in the NFC East, and robbed them of their most important player. Dak Prescott was the straw that stirred the drink for the Cowboys, and now he’ll miss the rest of the season. Since this is football, they don’t cancel any games because of injury so the Cowboys will have to soldier on.
That process actually started in-game when Andy Dalton had to come on and play quarterback starting around the six-minute mark of the third quarter with the Cowboys leading 24-23 and driving at the Giants 18-yard line. Thus began Andy Dalton’s playing career with the Dallas Cowboys.
That playing career began with a thud. Dalton was promptly sacked on his first play for a five yard loss making it 3rd-and-6. Then Dalton had his first of a few timely plays that helped win the game when he hit CeeDee Lamb for eleven yards to extend the drive. Ezekiel Elliott then took over and punched it in for a score.
Dalton then suffered a dry patch when the Cowboys offense had a three-and-out followed by a disastrous fumble on the center/QB exchange that led to a Giants touchdown and a lead of 34-31 for New York. At this point, it was looking like the Dalton experiment was off to a bad start. This is also the moment Dalton rescued the game and gave the team and the fans a glimmer of hope.
Dalton next led an 11-play drive that set up a tying field goal. On the drive, Dalton was four of four and though he was helped out greatly by the running game and a facemask penalty, he still hit a few important passes, including the final one that put Greg Zuerlein 10 yards closer for the 40-yard field goal.
On the next drive, Dalton really showed he can still play. The Cowboys received the ball with 52 seconds left and the game tied at 34 apiece. They started at their own 12-yard line. Even with their timeouts still available, it wasn’t exactly a promising proposition. It was even more daunting when Dalton’s first pass was incomplete. From that point, Dalton hit on three straight passes, including two to Michael Gallup that were just about as perfectly placed as they could be. All the credit in the world to Michael Gallup who made two incredible catches, really top-notch stuff. But they wouldn’t have happened without two beautiful passes.
On the first one, Dalton had to scramble to his right to avoid trouble before unloading to Gallup.
Andy Dalton making plays what a snag by Michael Gallup #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/j6ZO6yxCCV— Roto Street Journal (RSJ) (@RotoStJournal) October 11, 2020
Then there was this bomb that he dropped into Gallup, who made an All-World catch on the sideline.
Andy Dalton and Michael Gallup coming in super clutch for the #Cowboys. This is an incredible grab.— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 11, 2020
Other players had more spectacular, or better statistical games, for game ball consideration. For instance, Michael Gallup is just unreal in bringing down the difficult catch. His late-game heroics seem to happen every week, and he is certainly a good pick for game ball winner given his amazing footwork on these two catches.
You could make the case for CeeDee Lamb as he led all Cowboys receivers with 124 yards on eight catches and is settling in as the Cowboys most consistent weapon on offense. Ezekiel Elliott had a nice game with 91 yards on just 19 carries while adding two touchdowns. He was running with authority and, of course, doing the job in pass protection.
We even need to give a shoutout to a defensive player, one who has been heavily criticized this season. Jaylon Smith had his best game of the year by a wide margin. He finished with 14 tackles, three tackles for loss, half a sack, and two QB hits. His ability to sniff out Jason Garrett’s screens were crucial to the win.
The Cowboys got decent contributions from a variety of players, but Andy Dalton had to come in under very tough circumstances, cold off the bench, and keep the Cowboys going. He did that, and his ability to get them in field goal position for the game-winning kick earns him the game ball for this week.