It wasn’t the domination they applied last Sunday, but the Dallas Cowboys overcame another sluggish start to put up a 28-13 win over the scrappy New York Giants. That propels them to 8-3 on the season and possibly into the lead in the much discussed Odell Beckham Jr. sweepstakes. It was a big day for the Dallas running backs and they overcame a couple of interceptions and a ton of penalties to post a badly needed win.
The Cowboys have an unfortunate reputation the past few years of playing poorly on Thanksgiving, and the first half was a continuation of that. They got off the field on the Giants’ first possession only because Daniel Jones and Darius Slayton just missed connecting on a deep touchdown pass. Then at their own 40, Mike McCarthy made the decision to go for it on fourth and two, and Ezekiel Elliott was stuffed for no gain, giving New York a short field. But with a couple of flags against them, the Giants only wound up netting a single yard. Graham Gano connected on the 57-yard field goal to give them the early lead.
On their next possession things started to get sloppy for the Cowboys. A holding flag set them back, and then Dak Prescott didn’t see Rodarius Williams who jumped the route to snuff out the drive, setting the visitors up at their own 31.
The defense would get off the field with a three and out, but another penalty on the punt would force Dallas to start the next possession from their own seven-yard line. It would turn into a great drive, as Michael Gallup had three strong catches, Elliott would have a 31-yard gain on an option play, and Prescott would connect with CeeDee Lamb for 25 yards to set up first and goal at the six just before the first quarter would expire. Elliott would finish the job with a run up the middle for the score and a 7-3 lead.
But another bugaboo for the Cowboys, penalties, would resurface. A defensive holding call would extend the next New York drive. Carlos Watkins drew the flag, and it was totally needless as Saquon Barkley would have been stopped on third down without the infraction. Given another chance at a deep ball, Jones would get a completion to Slayton all the way down to the Dallas one, and they would score two plays later to take the lead again.
After both teams went three and out, the Cowboys managed to get a drive going as the second quarter was winding down, but it would be cut off after they got into field goal range. First another flag hindered them, then a reverse to Tony Pollard failed badly. The next play saw Prescott get picked for a second time. That allowed the Giants to equal their total picks in the first ten games of the season in just the first half of play. They would capitalize on it to get into field goal range, helped by more penalties drawn by the Cowboys, including an illegal contact on Trevon Diggs that nullified an interception by Donovan Wilson. Gano would knock through a 47-yard attempt to give them a 13-7 lead at halftime. Dallas fans were having flashbacks to recent struggles in the annual Thanksgiving game.
The Cowboys received the second half kickoff and needed to get something going. They would go to the run, which had been working in the first half. On three consecutive plays, Prescott would evade a sack for positive yards, and Elliott and Pollard would each have a carry to move the ball to their own 47. They would get a bit of a gift on a defensive holding call to keep the drive going. Replay didn’t show much to justify the flag. CeeDee Lamb would have a big catch on third and 12 to keep the drive alive at the New York 10. He would be flagged for a false start on the next play as the laundry kept plaguing Dallas. They would get still another false start on Tyler Biadasz to put them back at the 15, but Prescott would erase that with a corner route touchdown to Dalton Schultz despite pressure, giving the Cowboys their second lead of the game after using up over half of the third quarter on the drive.
The Giants would face a fourth and one at their own 45 and would, like the Cowboys did in the first quarter, elect to go for it. Jones would miss a wide open Barkley with a pass, and Dallas had a great opportunity to stretch the lead with great field position.
Prescott would possibly save the drive when he picked up a bad snap and found Jake Ferguson to get first down yardage, although Ferguson was shaken up for the second time in the game on the play. Two plays later, Prescott would roll to his left and find CeeDee Lamb for a one-handed grab despite being interfered with to set up first and goal at the five. They had to make it hard on themselves with yet another false start, but Schultz would get the much needed touchdown two plays later to stretch the lead to eight.
The Giants came out fighting though. They got 25 yards on consecutive runs by backup RB Gary Brightwell. Fortunately the defense would get that sorted and force a punt. The Dallas offense was into its rhythm, with Ferguson, back on the field, getting them into field goal range with a 30-yard catch featuring a great hurdle to add a few on the end. But Schultz would get yet another holding call to push them back. Pollard would get a bunch of yards back and Lamb would take them to the NY two-yard line. Peyton Hendershot would cap things with a rare TE jet sweep TD to push the lead to 15 and let the Cowboys take some control of the game with only 8:53 left in the game.
Micah Parsons continued his trend of two sacks or none in the game, including a big one in the fourth quarter to make sure New York did not mount a late comeback. That would lead to a turnover on downs and let Dallas run down the clock. Even the rare Brett Maher miss late didn’t make us feel bad, since it came at a time when it had no effect on the outcome. New York would score a final touchdown with just eight seconds on the clock, but it was pretty much the definition of a garbage time score.
Elliott had his best game of the year, with 84 yards on just 12 carries before the Cowboys’ final clock-killing possession for an impressive seven yards a carry and a TD, including possibly his best single run of the season for 22 yards. Pollard had 64 as the running game was crucial for the win. Lamb had his second 100-yard game in 2022 and Gallup started to look like his old self with some very impressive catches. Leighton Vander Esch had a crucial tackle that may have saved a touchdown early in the game as he continues to have a quietly good year. It was a tougher game than we might have wanted, but a win is a win, and we should all feel sated.