ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys had plenty of missed opportunities, including another touchdown to Dez Bryant that was called back by instant replay.
This game will be remembered for kicking too many field goals, and then not getting into position to kick another in the final minutes.
All games, though, have those hidden plays that can be forgotten, but end up playing a huge factor in the outcome. Here is a handful that changed this game.
Beasley drop over the middle – The Cowboys couldn't have opened the game in a more impressive manner. Dak Prescott was delivering the ball all over the field and Ezekiel Elliott was providing some solid running, especially to convert on third-and-short. Prescott finished the drive 6 of 7 and led the offense to a field goal. But the lone incomplete was probably the reason the Cowboys didn't score a touchdown. While the pass was a bit high for Cole Beasley, the slot receiver still should've hauled in the pass and could've likely marched into the end zone. Instead, the Cowboys had to settle for a short field goal.
Quick pass to Shepard – The Giants offense was rather stagnant in the early going, but all it took was a short first-down conversion pass to rookie Sterling Shepard that seemed to get Eli Manning in the groove. On the next play, Manning fired a strike to Odell Beckham Jr. for 45 yards, followed by a TD pass to Larry Donnell. All it took was one throw to Shepard to move the sticks, and then Manning was back in business, giving the Giants a 7-6 lead.
Missed opportunity to Williams – While Terrance Williams was obviously involved in a bigger play at the end of the game, there was another missed chance on first down at the Cowboys' 40-yard line midway through the third quarter. The Cowboys had grabbed a 16-13 lead and got the ball back with good field position. But on first down, Prescott and Williams weren't on the same page during a pass to the left sideline. Either Williams didn't come back to the ball or it was poorly underthrown. Either way, there was a chance to make some yards. Instead, the Cowboys had a three-and-out and had to punt, wasting a good opportunity to get more points.
Holding on Collins in fourth – Second-year guard La'el Collins had a couple of holding penalties in the fourth quarter, but his first one initially led to a Giants touchdown. On first down at the Cowboys' 20-yard line, Collins was flagged for holding, pushing the ball back to the 10. From there, the offense was overly conservative and never got close to a first down. The ensuing punt gave the Giants the ball at their own 46. From there, Manning marched his offense down the field for a go-ahead touchdown.
Jennings goes for nine– With the Cowboys needing to get a crucial stop and get the ball back, they were gashed too many times by Rashad Jennings. On second-and-7 from the Giants' 45 with 3:00 left, Jennings went for nine yards and another first down, right up the middle. Had the Cowboys held there, it's very likely the next play would be another run on third down because there's no way the Giants were going to risk giving Dallas the ball back ahead of the 2:00 warning. But by allowing a nine-yard run, the Cowboys had to stop New York for another set of downs. Instead of getting the ball back with 1:05, they had a shot to get it back with about 1:50. Think about what another 45 seconds would've done for an offense that got to the Giants' 40-yard line as time expired.