Coming into the National Football League on Sunday night, the Dallas Cowboys arrived at MetLife Stadium with all the necessary attire that pronounced them as division champions. The New York Giants has apparently not read the script and proceeded to pull out a 10-7 win to keep things interesting in the NFC East with three games to go.
The Giants were the underdogs in tonight's game even though they had given the Cowboys their only loss so far this season on opening night but the Giants were in good form, having won six of their last seven games. The Cowboys were favourites due to their 10-game wining streak leading up to tonight's game and even though it would be close, many expected the Cowboys to prevail. That was not the case and the Giants are now two games away from the Cowboys in the NFC East and one step closer to the playoffs after their win tonight.
The defenses keep both offenses in check
With all of the firepower on both teams on the offensive side of the ball, it was the defenses that stayed on top of things and limited the game to a low-scoring battle of the trenches. The Cowboys defense, who were without the services of Morris Claiborne, came away with one interception, two forced fumbles and two sacks on the night while limiting the NY offense to just 14% third down efficiency rate.
Dallas constantly got by the Giants offensive line to pressure quarterback Eli Manning into misplaced and ill-advised throws and were unlucky to not have more than one interception on the night. Dallas also managed to keep track of the likes of Victor Cruz and limit such an explosive receiver to just one 4-yard catch all game.
The Giants defense was just as effective even without the presence of Jason Pierre-Paul. Ezekiel Elliott may have gone for over 100 rushing yards again tonight, but his runs did not impact the final score of the game and the Giants defense came away with two interceptions and three sacks at crucial times in the game.
In fact, one such sack late in the first half led to a 53-yard field goal attempt by Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey that hit the post and allowed the Giants to go into half time down by just seven points. The touchdown they conceded to Dallas came through a blown coverage that allowed Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams to score untouched which the Giants' defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo then ensured did not happen again for the rest of the game.
Beckham Jr. finally steps up for the Giants
After a dropped catch with the end zone a few steps away and a few more drops that many would expect Odell Beckham Jr. to convert, the wide receiver finally had the play that not only broke the game open for the Giants but allowed the Giants offense to find its stride again. Late in the third quarter, with only 43 seconds to go, Manning hit Beckham Jr. in stride and the receiver evaded two tackles as he outrun the Cowboys secondary to score a 61-yard touchdown. It was the kind of big lay the Giants had been looking for since Beckham Jr.'s drop in the first quarter and it helped them gain a big foothold in the game again.
The receiver ended the night with a total of 94 yards but within those yards was a crucial third down catch in the fourth quarter that allowed the Giants to continue their drive and also take more time off the clock. It was not a vintage performance by Beckham Jr. or the Giants offense and they will have their defense to thank tonight for keeping the team in the game until the offense found another gear that helped the team win the game.