Giants jump Cowboys 10-7 after halftime deficit
Giants hang on to wildcard berth
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The New York Giants overcame a 7-0 halftime deficit by scoring 10 unanswered second-half points to top the Dallas Cowboys, 10-7, at MetLife Stadium.
The win gives the Giants their first season sweep of the Cowboys since 2011 but more importantly, allows them to hang on to their position for a possible wild-card berth, which, if they get it, will be their first trip to the postseason since 2011.
The Cowboys were uncharacteristically sloppy with their ball security, turning over the ball three times -- two interceptions by quarterback Dak Prescott and one lost fumble by receiver Dez Bryant on his first catch of the game, which came late in the fourth quarter.
The sluggish Giants offense managed to capitalize on one of the Cowboys miscues. The first came shortly after New York got its first points of the game, those coming on Robbie Gould's 39-yard field goal to narrow the Cowboys lead to 7-3.
New York's second score came on one of the Cowboys' miscues, when cornerback Leon Hall recorded his first interception as a Giant, picking off Prescott's pass intended for Bryant. The pick was the second of the game for Prescott, the first time in his young career that he's thrown multiple interceptions in a game.
The Giants converted that turnover into Eli Manning's first and only touchdown pass of the game, a 61-yarder to receiver Odell Beckham Jr. It was Manning's 50th touchdown pass against the Cowboys and Beckham's ninth career touchdown catch of 60 or more yards.
The Giants sought to increase their lead, but then the offense reverted to its sloppy ways from earlier in the game. With 2nd-and-9 on the Cowboys' 22-yard line, Manning's pass intended for receiver Victor Cruz was picked off by cornerback Anthony Brown to squish the Giants scoring drive.
The Cowboys tried late in the game to take back the lead, but came up short. Prescott finally connected with Bryant, whom the Giants had shut out on seven prior targets in the game. However, Bryant's first reception, a 10-yard gain, was forced loose by Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins and the loose ball was scooped up by safety Landon Collins.
Dallas got on the board first thanks to a 31-yard touchdown pass from Prescott to receiver Terrance Williams, who earlier in the drive got a generous spot on a 3rd-and-8 after it looked like Williams had been stopped a full yard short of the first down.
The Cowboys converted the fourth down by sending running back Ezekiel Elliott to the right side, against defensive end Romeo Okwara, starting for Jason Pierre-Paul. After Elliott picked up the first down, Prescott found Williams, who was wide open on a blown coverage for the touchdown.
The Giants, as they have done all season long, shot themselves in the foot with mistakes. New York managed to drive all the way to the Cowboys' 24-yard line, but Manning was sacked, the ball falling out of his hand. Defensive tackle Cedric Thornton quickly scooped it up, recording the Cowboys' 12th defensive takeaway of the season and their first since October.
Despite their big break, the Cowboys were unable to capitalize as Prescott's third-down pass for Bryant at the Giants' 47-yard line was picked off by Jenkins. That interception was Prescott's first in five games.
Kicker Dan Bailey's 55-yard field-goal attempt from the left hash with two seconds left in the first half hit the crossbar.
The Cowboys (11-2) will now turn their attention to wrapping up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, starting with next week's home game against Tampa Bay followed by a home game against Detroit and then a road game at Philadelphia.
The Giants (9-4), whose wild-card playoff hopes remain alive, will close out their 2016 home schedule next week against Detroit, followed by two road games at Philadelphia and Washington.
NOTES: Dak Prescott's first touchdown of the game marked his 20th for the season, making him the 14th NFL rookie quarterback to register 20 passing scores and the eighth Cowboys quarterback to pass for at least 20 touchdowns in a single season. ... Rookie Romeo Okwara, who made the Giants' 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame, got the start at left defensive end for the Giants, in place of the injured Jason Pierre-Paul. He recorded the Giants' first sack of the game in the second quarter, a sack that was also the first of his career. ... Giants RB Shane Vereen, who made his first appearance since Week 3 after spending the last several weeks on injured reserve with a torn triceps muscle, suffered a concussion in the second quarter and was ruled out of the game. ... Odell Beckham's third-quarter touchdown reception was his 33rd from Eli Manning. That catch pushed Beckham ahead of WR Plaxico Burress as the Giants receiver with the most touchdown catches from Manning.