If only the Cowboys could play the Giants every week. Another beat down, though the 49-17 final score didn’t feature a shutout this time. Still, the Cowboys dominated the Giants thoroughly and chalked up a pretty strong victory. It’s hard to pick out super impactful plays in a game like this, but these five plays helped pave the way for the big win.
Dak Prescott scrambles on big third down
Believe it or not, this game was pretty close in the first quarter. The Cowboys came up short on the goal line on their first drive and went three-and-out on the next one. Their third drive showed some promise, but on third and six at the New York 26, Dallas was in danger of having to settle for a field goal.
As Dak Prescott dropped back, nobody seemed to be open. Pressure from the edges forced him to step up into the pocket, at which point Prescott decided to bail out and run. He narrowly got the corner and picked up seven yards, moving the chains with his feet.
As it turns out, a flag had been thrown for defensive holding, so they’d have picked up the first down anyway. But Prescott’s big scramble didn’t leave it up to chance, and CeeDee Lamb scored a touchdown on the next play.
Dallas defenses gets big stop on fourth down
On the Cowboys’ ensuing offensive drive, Prescott had one of his lone missteps on the night, throwing an interception that ultimately got returned to the Dallas 12. For the first time all game, the Giants had a chance to score points and tie the game.
After Tommy DeVito picked up six yards on a third-down scramble, the Giants opted to go for it on fourth and two. DeVito handed the ball off to Saquon Barkley, who got stood up at the line of scrimmage by Johnathan Hankins and DeMarcus Lawrence.
With the way the game had been going thus far, a successful conversion and touchdown for the Giants would have ratcheted up the intensity of this game. Getting a stop here, and ultimately rendering the interception harmless, was huge for shaping this game’s outcome.
Chunk plays from Brandin Cooks and CeeDee Lamb flip the field
Following the big fourth-down stop, the Cowboys offense retook the field at their own four-yard line. Two quick plays moved the chains and gave them a little bit of breathing room, but the Cowboys still needed to cover a lot of ground to score.
They got that in back-to-back plays. First, a rolling out Prescott hit a wide open Brandin Cooks on a crossing route, picking up 25 yards. On the very next play, Prescott again got outside the pocket and found CeeDee Lamb down the sideline for a 30-yard gain.
In the span of just two plays, the Cowboys picked up 55 yards and moved from their own 15 to the Giants’ 30-yard line. Rather than organizing a long, methodical drive, the Cowboys created two chunk plays to flip the field. Four plays later, they went up 14-0.
Deuce Vaughn punt return sets up short field
Deuce Vaughn was active for the first time since Week 5 and, with KaVontae Turpin out with an injury, the rookie was handling punt return duties. It was a relatively quiet night for him in that respect, but Vaughn did have one big moment.
After yet another three-and-out from the Dallas defense, New York punted the ball away. Vaughn fielded this one with room to run, shrugging off a big hit before picking up 11 yards. It may not have seemed like much in the moment, but Vaughn’s physical return set the Cowboys up right around midfield instead of closer to the Dallas 35.
The Cowboys would end up scoring on their next drive, going up 21-0. All it took was one play - which didn’t even move the chains - to be in Giants territory, and that’s largely because of the return from Vaughn. It wasn’t the biggest play in the game, but it definitely helped the Cowboys string together another quick scoring drive.
Another big play to Cooks flips field
This was just Brandin Cooks’ day, as it turned out. The Cowboys got the ball back after another three-and-out from the Giants, but a strong punt set them up at their own 15. With just under three minutes left in the first half, Dallas needed some more chunk plays to orchestrate a scoring drive here.
They got it on the very first play. Prescott dropped back and was quickly facing a six-man blitz. He stepped up and delivered a strike to Cooks, who had beaten his man down the seam. Cooks added a few extra yards after the catch, ultimately going down at the 50.
Just like that, on one play, the Cowboys had flipped the field. They ran one more play before the two-minute warning and then managed to score a touchdown with 16 seconds left. That put them up 28-0 at halftime, and the game was about as close to being over as it can be at halftime. But the chunk play from Cooks, a recurring theme in this game, was huge in getting there.