EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – For a game that started out as a defensive struggle, the Cowboys were able to pick it up offensively behind Cooper Rush and a host of players. The defense continued to thrive and the Cowboys were able to escape with a 23-16 win.
But here are some of those "hidden" plays that changed the outcome of this game.
Zeke converts Third-and-12 – Midway through the second quarter, with the Cowboys leading 6-3, they had a third-and-12 at their own 21. Instead of going for a pass, the Cowboys ran a quick pitch to Zeke Elliott, who not only got the corner for a first down but went 27 yards. The Cowboys were not able to get points on this drive, but the conversion flipped the field and they eventually punted to the Giants, who took over at their own 20 with 2:30 to play and never got any points. Without that first down, the Giants have much better field position and likely get a field goal, if not more.
Giants big play wiped out - Before halftime, the Giants looked to get a big gain on the Cowboys with a 20-yard pass to Kenny Golladay down to the Dallas 38. But an offensive pass interference penalty on Giants WR Sterling Shepard negated the pass and pushed them back, leading to an eventual turnover on downs. Another big play that kept points off the board.
NYG loses 22 yards on two plays – At one point, it appeared the Giants had the ball at the Cowboys' 24 with a first down. But a 14-yard completion to Saquon Barkley was negated by an illegal man downfield call. On the next play, Donovan Wilson sacked Daniel Jones for a loss of 11 yards. NYG went from the 24 to the Cowboys' 46 and had to settle for a field goal.
Rush, Lamb silence the crowd – For all the big plays CeeDee Lamb either made or didn't make, one that likely will get lost is a 17-yard reception in the third quarter. But the Giants had just grabbed a 13-6 lead and had all of the momentum and the crowd behind them. But on first down, Cooper Rush hit Lamb for a 17-yard play, likely restoring some confidence after two drops in the first half. The Cowboys used that to drive down 75 yards for their first touchdown of the game, tying the score at 13.
Fourth-and-4 conversion - With the game tied at 13 early in the fourth, the Cowboys faced a fourth-and-4 at the Giants' 41. Keeping the offense on the field led to the Giants burning a timeout, but after that, the offense stayed again and Cooper Rush hit CeeDee Lamb for four yards, just enough to move the sticks. Lamb would catch two more big plays on the drive, including a 1-yard TD catch for the lead.