EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Just like that, the season is now over for the Cowboys. It was one crazy ride from start to finish, and during the final month, it appeared the Cowboys might have a shot to sneak into the playoffs.
But they had to get a win on Sunday and that didn't materialize. While there were several memorable plays throughout the game, here are five you can't forget about that played a big factor in the outcome.
Failed screen in the red zone – The Giants held a 6-0 lead, but later in the first quarter, the Cowboys were on the move thanks to a fumble recovery. On second-and-8 from New York's 14-yard line, though, the Cowboys appeared to have a screen set up perfectly for Tony Pollard, who had blockers in front of him with a shot to possibly score. But Andy Dalton's pass was knocked down at the line of scrimmage, setting up a third-and-long. Dalton was then sacked on that play, which led to a field goal.
Dalton sacked before halftime – With 4:21 to play in the first half, the Cowboys had just picked up a first down on third-and-short to the Giants' 32-yard line. Trailing 13-3, the Cowboys were looking to cut into the lead before the break and get the ball back to start the third quarter. But a first-down sack changed the drive, forcing Dallas to be conservative and stay in field-goal range. A Greg Zuerlein 46-yard field goal cut the lead to 13-6 but left 2:13 on the clock, enough time for the Giants to drive down and score another touchdown. Without that sack, the Cowboys perhaps keep driving for a touchdown or at least could have taken more time off before a closer field goal, which would've kept them down by a single score.
Decision not to go for two-point conversion – While there was plenty of football to be played, the fact that the Cowboys opted against going for two points midway through the third quarter could be questioned, especially with how the game unfolded. The Cowboys were down 20-9 and scored on an Ezekiel Elliott 1-yard run to pull within five. Had it been later in the game, Mike McCarthy would've gone for two to cut the lead to three. Instead, he kicked the extra point and the score remained 20-16. Both teams managed one more field goal, so with the Cowboys driving at the end of the game, they had to score a touchdown. With a successful two-point conversion, the case could be made that only a game-tying field goal would've been needed.
Offensive momentum stalled at the 11 – The Cowboys seemed to have the Giants reeling late in the third quarter. Trailing 20-16, Dallas had picked up five first downs and had another first-and-10 at the Giants' 11-yard line. But Zeke was stopped for a 2-yard loss and that put the Cowboys headed in the wrong direction. A third-down sack, which was the first play of the fourth quarter, led to a field goal and the Cowboys remained trailing, 20-19.
CeeDee's drop on final drive – The Cowboys still had a shot to win this game. Down 23-19, the offense was moving, setting up a first-and-goal at the 7-yard line with 1:53 to play. But after yielding a 10-yard sack back to the 17, the Cowboys nearly got it back and more on the next play when Dalton found CeeDee Lamb over the middle on a crossing route. But the rookie receiver wasn't able to haul in the pass, negating what likely would've been a 10 to 12-yard completion if not more, depending on Lamb's ability to break tackles. But more than anything, it would have put the Cowboys in position to throw the ball into the end zone two more times from a manageable distance.