The Dallas Cowboys are now winners of three straight after a 21-6 victory over the Giants in New Jersey. Coupled with the Lions’ shocking win over the Cardinals, and Dallas is now moving up to the third seed in the NFC as the regular season draws to a close.
As for the game itself, this wasn’t necessarily a blowout or something you’d describe as dominant. Yet, the Cowboys seemed to have control of the game from the outset, never letting the Giants get anything going. These five plays were a big part of ensuring it stayed that way.
Zack Martin’s rare false start kills Cowboys’ strong opening drive
The Cowboys won the opening coin toss and opted to receive the ball in an attempt to get their offense off to a fast start. It ended up working, as Dallas moved the chains four different times and looked like their old selves for a moment.
They got the ball down to the Giants’ 36-yard line when Zack Martin got called for a false start on third and six. The rare penalty on the Hall of Famer backed Dallas up five yards to make a first down conversion unlikely. It also took them out of field goal position, which led to a punt from Bryan Anger.
The Cowboys would end up scoring points on their next four straight possessions on offense, but they had a chance to make the gap even wider with points on the opening drive. Alas, it wasn’t in the cards.
DeMarcus Lawrence deserves an assist on Jourdan Lewis’ interception
After the Cowboys punted the ball, it was the defense’s turn to get off to a hot start. They gave up an early conversion on third-and-short but refused to make that same mistake again.
Facing third-and-five at his own 29-yard line, Mike Glennon tried to push the ball past the sticks, but he got crushed by DeMarcus Lawrence as he threw the ball. The result was one of the more funky interceptions you’ll see all year.
Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis’ third interception this season, most in a season of his career pic.twitter.com/79IGl5J7Wj— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) December 19, 2021
Jourdan Lewis was one of four Cowboys running to the area where the ball dropped down, but he was the one who got under it as if he were returning a punt. Lewis returned it 18 yards, which led to a two-play touchdown drive from the Dallas offense. Lawrence was the one who made the play, though, as he’s been highly impactful since returning from the injured reserve.
DeMarcus Lawrence creates another takeaway with his textbook punch out
The Cowboys kicked a field goal to go up 12-3 just under the two minute warning in the first half. They had all three timeouts left, so it was a perfect situation to try and get the offense one more possession before halftime.
A 15-yard reception for Saquon Barkley on first down didn’t start things out well, but Lawrence was determined to flip the script. When Barkley got a handoff up the middle two plays later, Tank executed a perfect punch technique to knock the ball loose before Carlos Watkins recovered it.
Demarcus Lawrence with the perfect maniac punch pic.twitter.com/PzcdaweBZG— Sam Erman (@FFBallAllDay) December 19, 2021
That gave the offense the ball with 38 seconds and all three timeouts and needing 46 yards to get a touchdown. They ended up running out of time for seven, but still got close enough for a field goal to put Dallas up 15-3 at halftime. Once again, it was all because of Lawrence making a timely play.
Lawrence and Neville Gallimore stuff the QB sneak on fourth-and-short
Oh, you thought we were done praising Lawrence? No, the Tank had himself a game. After the Giants got a field goal on their opening drive of the third quarter, they were determined to make that the starting point of a comeback.
That’s why head coach Joe Judge opted to go for it on fourth-and-inches at their own 29-yard line. If they could extend the drive and get any points, it would cut things down to a one-score game. Glennon ran the quarterback sneak, which usually beats this defense, but Lawrence and Neville Gallimore (and a few other Cowboys) broke through to stop him short.
The turnover on downs led to a touchdown for the Cowboys just five plays later, advancing the deficit to a near-insurmountable 15 points with the fourth quarter about to begin. It was a desperation play by the Giants, and the Cowboys snuffed it out to extinguish any realistic hopes New York had left.
Trevon Diggs’ 10th pick of the year drives a dagger into the Giants’ comeback attempt
Things seemed to be over after the Cowboys’ last touchdown, but the Giants saw last week’s game in Washington and knew they were just a couple of big plays away from getting right back in this one. So when the defense recovered a fumble in Dallas territory with eight minutes left in the game, they probably felt like history was setting up to repeat itself.
Technically it did, as Dallas won this game just like they did the last game. But this time, the Cowboys’ late turnover didn’t get converted into points, and that’s due to Trevon Diggs doing Trevon Diggs things in the endzone:
The officials initially ruled this an incomplete pass but Mike McCarthy correctly threw the challenge flag, allowing the referees to see that Diggs was down by contact before the ball came loose. That gave Diggs the tie for second-most single-season picks in franchise history, but more importantly it drove one final dagger into the Giants’ chances of coming back in this one.