ARLINGTON, Texas – With the Cowboys putting together a memorable rally to lift them past the Giants, this one had plenty of highlights, especially in the fourth quarter of the team's 27-26 win.
All games, though, have those hidden plays that can be forgotten, but end up playing a huge factor in the outcome. Here are a handful of plays that changed this game.
1.Near Disaster – With all of this talk about who would start at running back, Joseph Randle's night nearly began in the worst way, as he fumbled his second carry of the game. The Giants thought they had recovered the ball at the Cowboys' 23-yard line, but Randle somehow managed to get it back. The Cowboys not only kept possession and prevented the Giants from an easy scoring opportunity, but they then drove down on a 17-play drive that led to a Dan Bailey field goal. And in a game decided by one point, all scoring plays turned out to be big.
2.Beneficial P.I. – There were probably dozens of plays Sunday night where the Cowboys receivers thought pass interference should've been called, but wasn't. They did seemingly catch a break in the third quarter when they trailed the Giants 16-6. On third-and-4 from the New York 18-yard line, Romo's pass to Terrance Williams in the end zone seemed too high, but pass inference was called on Giants cornerback Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie. The refs said the veteran corner climbed on Williams' back while the ball was in the air. Ultimately, it was a big break for the Cowboys, who got the ball first-and-goal at the 2-yard line and scored on the next play.
3.Beasley's Second-Effort Part 2– Earlier in the game, Cole Beasley's second effort and trying to fight for yards led to a fumble and a Giants touchdown. But with the Cowboys down by two scores late in the fourth quarter, Beasley didn't hesitate to try and make more yards once again. This time, his hustle led to a quick touchdown for the Cowboys. At the Giants' 17, Beasley caught a sideline route that appeared to go for about 8 yards, before he made two cutbacks and fought through tacklers to the 1-yard line. The Cowboys would score on the next play, but if Beasley doesn't get extra yards there, it might've taken a few more plays and more time off the clock before the Cowboys would get the ball back.
4.Bad Penalty Turns Good – Show of hands … how many people said "Game Over" when Jeremy Mincey was flagged for a personal foul late in the fourth quarter, turning a potential third-down play into a first down? Turns out the Cowboys benefitted from that play because while it did push the ball up 15 yards, the clock didn't have to restart and the Cowboys were able to keep all three of their timeouts. If Mincey doesn't commit that penalty, it's third-and-1 for the Giants in a still-manageable play. But by stopping the clock, it allowed the Cowboys to use their timeouts later in the drive.
5.Early Jump Pays Off – Most of the time, a declined penalty is meaningless. This time, it might have saved the Cowboys from a loss. On a third-down and 14 after the 2-minute warning, the Giants connected on a 16-yard completion over the middle to Odell Beckham at the Cowboys' 4. At the line of scrimmage, DeMarcus Lawrence jumped offside. The Giants, of course, declined the penalty and took the ball near the goal line. But because of the penalty, the clock moved only six seconds and the Cowboys didn't even have to use one of their two timeouts. They were able to hold the Giants on two running plays and call their last two timeouts, setting up the third-down play in which the Giants decided to pass the ball.