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Cowboys handle Giants 21-6, staying in control of their playoff destiny

The Cowboys got their victory over their NFC East rival and basically secured a playoff spot.

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys took care of business at the New York Giants, getting a 21-6 win. Now, depending on the outcomes of a couple of later games, Dallas might end the day with a playoff spot all locked up.

It was a game where we were hoping for the Cowboys to show they were over their offensive struggles. Instead, it was more one where Dallas was clearly the better team and in charge almost the entire way. This was another game where the defense was the real star, as they would have four takeaways plus a turnover on downs to kill New York Giants drives and set up multiple scores in a game that wasn’t exactly full of those.

Even though the Cowboys did not run away with game, it felt like they had things in control from the opening. Although they would wind up punting on their first possession, they moved the ball and the Giants wound up fair catching the ball at their own nine-yard line. Starting possessions inside their own ten-yard line would become routine for New York in this game. In this case, it would lead to good things for Dallas, as DeMarcus Lawrence would come crashing in on QB Mike Glennon so fast that Glennon’s arm hit Lawrence and sent the ball straight up in the air. Jourdan Lewis would pull it in and set the Cowboys up at the New York 13. After an incomplete pass, Ezekiel Elliott would rumble the distance on one of his best looking runs of the season. Greg Zuerlein would miss the extra point, however, something that would not be just a one time event in this game.

That run came right behind the right guard, which once again was Connor Williams. After four games, the Connor McGovern experiment came to an end. The running game in particular was much more effective for Dallas. Not only was the blocking better, but Tony Pollard returned after missing last week. Playing through the torn plantar fascia, he looked the same as always, adding his explosiveness to the power running of Elliott and giving the Cowboys a functional ground attack again.

The Giants got a long run from Devontae Booker on their next possession to keep things alive, but would stall in the red zone and have to settle for a field goal. It featured Micah Parsons looking like a veteran cornerback to drop into coverage and prevent a likely touchdown.

The Cowboys would also stall on their next possession and settle for a field goal. It looked like they would get their next takeaway on the ensuing drive for the Giants, but what appeared to be a fumble after a pass completion was ruled down by contact. It went against Dallas, but the concept would come back in this game. This time, it didn’t really hurt the Cowboys, as they would still force the end of the drive. Dallas would go down to the red zone, but their woes would come back and a sack of Dak Prescott would leave them taking another field goal.

The Giants had 1:39 left before halftime to work with, but Saquon Barkley would have the ball punched out by DeMarcus Lawrence. New York had the ball after the play, but replay showed that “down by contact” was in effect again. This time, it worked for the Cowboys, as Carlos Watkins was ruled to have secured the ball and been touched down. Prescott worked the team down the field but couldn’t get into the end zone before time ran out. Zuerlein would kick his third field goal, giving Dallas a 15-3 lead at halftime.

Statistically, the Cowboys were dominating the game with almost double the yards as well as a two-score lead. They weren’t putting the Giants away, but it didn’t feel like they were really threatened. That would continue in the second half. After receiving the kickoff, the Giants would drive but also only be able to get a field goal.

After the offense couldn’t do much on the next possession, they punted back to New York. Earlier in the game, Joe Judge had successfully gone for it on fourth and less than a yard deep in his own end of the field with a big gain as a result, and he did not hesitate to do so again. But this time Glennon was stood up short of the line of scrimmage on a quarterback sneak and the Cowboys would have the ball back at the New York 29. This time, the red zone curse did not rear its ugly head as Prescott would find Dalton Schultz in the end zone after standing in the pocket unmolested for about a ten count.

Zuerlein would doink this extra point off the upright, giving him an interesting stat line of three made field goals and two missed PATs on the day. That put the score at 21-6, which seemed insurmountable for the Giants.

There would be some turnover excitement as Prescott would lose a fumble deep in New York territory, but it was sandwiched between interceptions by Malik Hooker and Trevon Diggs, the latter his tenth of the season, and one that was initially ruled an incomplete pass before the “down by contact” rule overturned the call. The only remaining excitement would come when Jake Fromm came in late and drove the Giants down the field, but would come up short on a fourth-and-five in the red zone.

It was not massively impressive, but it was a game where the Cowboys just seemed to be in control. It was a cold and windy day in New Jersey, and those are conditions where this offense just never seems to do well. But it was a two score win over a division rival, and now Dallas may be able to secure a playoff spot depending on later games. That is pretty much a good day.

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