Cowboys top Giants to pull away from NFC East rivals

  • Covered NFL since 1997, Cowboys since 2003
  • Previously covered Bengals and Dolphins
  • Lives in Dallas area with his wife and two children

ARLINGTON, Texas — Four days after their most lopsided road victory in franchise history and a game that turned Jerry Jones into a believer that his team can win a Super Bowl, the Dallas Cowboys won again Thursday, beating the New York Giants 28-20.

Both teams entered Thursday at 7-3, locked in a tight NFC East race behind the 9-1 Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys swept the season series over their division rivals with the win, improving to 8-3. The Giants fall to 7-4, now seemingly out of the hunt in their division.

While the Cowboys have bounced back from a Week 10 loss to the Green Bay Packers with two statement wins, the Giants have now lost their second in a row as they fight to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Dallas Cowboys

This win wasn’t nearly as pretty as the last. Two Dak Prescott interceptions. Eleven penalties. Three New York pass plays of more than 20 yards in the first half. Two defensive penalties that wiped out a key third-down stop and interception.

Sometimes style points don’t matter.

The Cowboys swept the Giants for the second straight year, earning a potentially key playoff tiebreaker come January. They remain in the NFC East chase with the Eagles, hoping to make their Christmas Eve matchup at AT&T Stadium mean more than a division title.

In the second half, Prescott threw two touchdown passes and stayed away from making key mistakes. The defense did not allow a point, with Micah Parsons adding his sixth multi-sack game of the season.

Promising trend: Michael Gallup is starting to be a factor in the offense. He had five catches for 63 yards in the first half, which marked the most he had in a game entering Thursday. He had three catches for 41 yards vs. Minnesota last week. He has made tough contested catches that show he is feeling much more confident in his surgically repaired left knee. Maybe it’s the talk of Odell Beckham Jr. joining the Cowboys, but the Cowboys need Gallup to be a factor opposite CeeDee Lamb for the offense to operate at a maximum level. He is closer to getting there.

Eye-popping NextGen stat: Facing third-and-goal from the New York 15, many assumed the Cowboys would play for the field goal. Instead, Prescott found Dalton Schultz matched up on defensive back Nick McCloud in the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter that looked like an easy pitch and catch. Not so, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. The completion probability on the pass was 23.1%, the lowest Prescott has had on a touchdown pass this season and the third-lowest since 2020. Prescott found Schultz again on the Cowboys’ second drive of the quarter for a touchdown.

Next game: vs Colts (8:20 p.m. ET, Dec. 4)

New York Giants

The Giants, under coach Brian Daboll, received a reality check. They are not, in their current state, talented enough to hang with a team like Dallas over four quarters, especially when they play their C-game.

The Giants led at halftime but were dominated in the second half. All the injuries — down five starters from last week alone — and some crucial missed opportunities made it seem like their first-half success this season was indeed somewhat of a mirage.

Pivotal play: Kayvon Thibodeaux’s missed sack early in the third quarter. The rookie had a free run at Prescott on the second play of the second half. Prescott spun away from the hard-charging fifth overall pick and turned what should have been a sack into a five-yard gain. Instead of third-and-long, it was third-and-short.

What a difference. Dallas converted the ensuing third down and went on to take the lead courtesy of a 14-play, 75-yard drive that took 7:39. The drive also included a key third-down penalty on the Giants and a 15-yard touchdown by Schultz on third-and-goal. Thibodeaux certainly wasn’t the only offender on that pivotal drive, but it turned the contest. Dallas outscored the Giants 21-7 in the second half.

Thibodeaux was getting pressure all afternoon (6 pressures, a new career high). He just couldn’t convert it into sacks.

Troubling trend: This was the third time in four games that the Giants allowed 27 or more points. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale saw his blitz-heavy defense fall apart last season in Baltimore because of a lack of cornerbacks. When asked prior to this year what he learned, Martindale said “don’t go to DoorDash for a backup cornerback.”

Well, here Martindale is again seemingly running out of defensive backs. The Giants were without their top two cornerbacks — Adoree’ Jackson and Fabian Moreau — and best safety Xavier McKinney because of injury. Aaron Robinson is out for the season with a knee injury. Rookie Cor’Dale Flott left this week’s game as he was being evaluated for a concussion.

Martindale and the Giants defense couldn’t stop Prescott and the Cowboys offense (145 yards passing with two touchdowns) in the second half.

Under the radar stat that matters: The Giants had their first completion of 40-plus air yards this season. Darius Slayton’s leaping 44-yard reception over Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown in the second quarter was the Giants’ first such completion this season. It set up Saquon Barkley’s one-yard touchdown run to give the Giants a 10-7 lead.

This was clearly part of Daboll and Mike Kafka’s offensive game plan. New York came out throwing, trying to hit big plays downfield. The Giants attempted their first pass of 40-plus air yards this season on the opening drive in the first quarter.

The approach helped the Giants start strong and take a 13-7 lead into halftime.

Next game: vs Commanders (1 p.m. ET, Dec. 4)

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