With a no-huddle offense and no-fooling-around defense, the New York Giants snapped the Cowboys' 11-game winning streak with a 10-7 victory Sunday night, preventing Dallas from clinching the NFC East.
Dallas (11-2) hadn't lost since the season opener against the Giants (9-4), who solidified their position in the NFC playoff chase as the top-wild card team. New York still hopes to catch Dallas in the division, and it can thank a stingy, aggressive defense for still having that opportunity.
Missing star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants couldn't stop rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliott from rushing for 107 yards. But New York's pressure stymied the other Cowboys rookie standout, quarterback Dak Prescott, blanked receiver Dez Bryant until 2:13 remained - he fumbled away the ball on that play - and held Dallas to one conversion in 15 third-down attempts.
The Giants had three sacks, continually made Prescott uncomfortable, and he threw two picks.
New York's offense was unsightly much of the night, blanked at halftime with only 84 net yards. Then it switched to the no-huddle and put together a short drive to Robbie Gould's 39-yard field goal, making it 7-3.
But Odell Beckham Jr., stepped up, as he often does, and sped through the Cowboys on a 61-yard touchdown play. Beckham caught Eli Manning's pass at the Giants 48 and raced all the way to the end zone for the lead the defense preserved.
Manning was 17 for 28 for 193 yards, one TD, one interception and two fumbles. His main adversary was linebacker Sean Lee, who had 18 tackles. >> Read more
Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press
Who thought the Giants' defense would actually play better without Pierre-Paul? What a performance from the Big Blue D against the streaking Cowboys.
Despite the miscommunication on Terrance Williams' wide-open touchdown catch in the first half and the fact the usually-reliable Dan Bailey hit the crossbar on his 55-yard field goal attempt right before halftime, the Giants played as solid a defensive game as they have in a while.
Romeo Okwara, the UDFA out of Notre Dame who replaced Pierre-Paul, had a stellar game, leading the club with eight tackles. He also had a sack, three QB hits and a pass defended. It looks like the Giants may have found a new star on their defensive line. Not to be left out, linebackers Keenan Robinson and Devon Kennard were outstanding.
As usual, the secondary was on point most of the night. Janoris Jenkins was awesome again, picking off Prescott, forcing a Bryant fumble and breaking up another Bryant pass at the end of the game. Leon Hall also had a pick. It was the coverage, though that stood out. Bryant had just one catch on nine targets and TE Jason Witten, a longtime Giant killer, had just four catches for 26 yards. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, playing slot corner most of the night, had two key pass breakups.
But again, the offense sputtered. It showed flashes occasionally, but outside of Beckham's 61-yard catch and run for a third-quarter touchdown, there wasn't much that stood out. Manning was "Bad Eli" for the majority of this ballgame. losing two fumbles and repeatedly throwing the ball into traffic. Somehow, he had only one interception.
It didn't matter this time around. The defense ruled the night, and the Giants guaranteed themselves a winning record for the first time since 2012. The Giants were ridiculed for spending like drunken sailors to fix their defense in free agency last winter. No one is laughing now.