The Cowboys marched into New Jersey to take on the Giants and walked away victorious. The game was a little closer than Dallas likely wanted it to be, and a lot of that was due to self-inflicted wounds, but they came up big in the end.
With the game being as close as it was, there were a ton of plays that changed the course of this contest throughout the night. But these five plays proved to be the biggest difference makers.
Noah Brown gets tackled in the endzone but it goes unnoticed
The Cowboys’ first two drives started out well, but ultimately fizzled out. That resulted in just three points, tying the Giants early on. When Cooper Rush got the ball back, he was determined to get six this time.
A big run from Tony Pollard made it possible, and before long the Cowboys were looking at a third and three inside the Giants’ 10-yard line. That’s when Rush threw the ball to Noah Brown, and this happened:
Even John Parry, ESPN’s officiating expert in the booth, expressed confusion at how such a blatant pass interference wasn’t called. Had the flags been thrown, Dallas would’ve gotten first and goal at the goal line with four chances to ram it in for a touchdown. Instead, they kicked the field goal on fourth down in a game that was close until the very end. This potential four-point swing could’ve changed the entire course of the night.
CeeDee Lamb makes tough catch through contact on fourth down
Had this game gone a different way at the end, we’d be talking about CeeDee Lamb for all the wrong reasons. Two big drops in the first half had the fan base ready to completely turn on him, but he more than made up for it in the second half.
Early in the fourth quarter, Dallas had the ball and was playing with confidence despite being tied 13 all. An incomplete pass brought up a fourth down just on the Giants’ side of the 50, and with four yards to go, Mike McCarthy opted to go for it. The result was an incredibly tough catch from Lamb:
The fact that Lamb held onto the ball while getting absolutely rocked is impressive. He managed to position himself just past the sticks too, and Dallas was awarded a first down by virtue of forward progress. Three plays later, Lamb made a beautiful one-handed touchdown grab in the corner of the endzone, but this catch on fourth down was equally impactful.
KaVontae Turpin’s big punt return sets Cowboys up well
We were so very close to Turpin time. After Lamb’s touchdown, the Giants promptly went three and out and were forced to punt. The Cowboys, with a 20-13 lead, had a golden opportunity to put things just out of reach with time ticking down in the fourth quarter.
Any plans that Kellen Moore had of calling a long, methodical drive were quickly scrapped when Turpin did this:
All in all, Turpin went for 28 yards and very nearly went all the way to the house too. That big return set the Cowboys up in field goal position already, and after the offense went three and out while trying to bleed the clock dry, Brett Maher made it a two score game with six minutes to go. Turpin set that up almost single handedly.
Donovan Wilson forces an intentional grounding penalty on Daniel Jones
The Cowboys went up by two scores, but there was still a very small window for the Giants. And Daniel Jones was moving the ball quickly, giving the impression that he might just pull off another come from behind victory.
The defense stiffened though, and Jones needed to convert a third and ten at the Dallas 22. As was the case most of the night, Jones was flushed out of the pocket. Donovan Wilson, who appeared to be spying Jones, came flying in like a missile and grabbed hold of him. Before he went down, Jones tossed the ball a couple yards to the side.
Flags went down, and the Cowboys ended up declining a holding penalty because Jones was flagged for intentional grounding. That resulted in a loss of down, bringing up fourth and forcing the Giants to kick a field goal after a drive that had been so promising just a few moments earlier.
Trevon Diggs makes the game-clinching pick
Trevon Diggs came so close to making a house call pick-six earlier in the game, and it still doesn’t quite make sense how he didn’t come up with the ball. But Diggs knew that Jones would give him another chance to record his first pick of the season.
On the Giants’ final drive of the game - one last chance at coming back and tying the game - Jones gave Diggs that opportunity. And this time, the All-Pro corner didn’t mess it up.
Diggs did what he did best and created the takeaway. And with that, the game was signed, sealed, and delivered. Time to party.