The woeful New York Giants were supposed to be the cure for the Dallas Cowboys' ills.
Anyone feeling better?
Indeed, the Cowboys were able to come away with a dramatic last-second 37-34 victory, but as the score indicates, it was by no means easy, and even worse, quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome ankle injury that appeared to be season-ending. He was taken to the hospital for further treatment with additional information to come.
In facing a team that had yet to win a game in this young season, the expectation was that Dallas' high-powered offense would be no match for the Giants. But once again, a disappointing start, turnovers and poor defensive play made for another up-and-down game for the Cowboys.
On top of that, the loss of their star quarterback left a dark cloud over the day's win. The play in question came in the third quarter after the offense had worked its way to the Giant's 27-yard line. That's when Prescott took off on a run up the middle, and he picked up 9 yards.
But on the tackle, his ankle was caught under the defender, rolling. He immediately signaled for the sideline and soon was carted off with tears in his eyes, a fist raised to the crowd.
While that was the worst of the Cowboys' troubles on the afternoon, the issues that have haunted the team so far this season surfaced again early on.
New York hadn't scored a touchdown in its last 21 quarters heading into this affair, but within 65 seconds of the first quarter, the club had already reached the end zone twice. Dallas actually took the game's opening possession and promptly marched down to the Giants' 4-yard line. But the Cowboys couldn't get in the end zone and settled for a chip-shot 24-yard field goal from Greg Zuerlin.
Things went downhill in a hurry after that. The Dallas defense appeared to have the Giants right where they wanted them, the visitors facing a first-and-20 at their own 36-yard line. However, linebacker Joe Thomas was called for a roughing the passer penalty on the next snap, which gave New York a first down at the Cowboys' 49-yard line.
Their drive kept alive, the Giants were able to cross the goal line soon thereafter, tight end Evan Engram taking a reverse around the left end for the final 3 yards and the score.
The Cowboys' hole then only got deeper when three plays into the their next series, Prescott's dump-off pass to Ezekiel Elliott sailed high, tipped off the fingers of the intended target and right into the waiting arms of Kyler Fackrell. The New York linebacker then rumbled down the right sideline 46 yards, breaking tackles and diving into the end zone to give the Giants' a 14-3 advantage.
When New York then added a 55-yard field goal early in the second quarter, even the most faithful couldn't help but wonder if the Cowboys' day was done.
And then, somehow, they flipped the switch.
It started with a good, old-fashioned ground-and-pound offensive drive. On their next possession, the Cowboys went 75 yards in 14 plays, chewing up 6:59 of game clock. They ran the ball 10 times, Elliott totaling 38 yards, the last of those carries a 1-yard plunge across the goal line for the score.
Ninety-one seconds later, Dallas was in the end zone again. In a turnover tit for tat, DeMarcus Lawrence not only picked up his first sack of the season, but also stripped quarterback Daniel Jones of the ball, which bounced right up to a blitzing Anthony Brown. The cornerback – one of the fastest players on the team – sprinted 29 yards untouched to pay dirt.
Just like that, they were out of the hole, the game was tied.
The Cowboys did get a bit lucky. The Giants tried a fake field goal on their next possession that saw Engram wide open for what would have been a touchdown. Instead, a New York penalty negated the play and forced the visitors to settle for a 50-yard field goal.
But Prescott still had 51 seconds with which to work and that was plenty of time. He and CeeDee Lamb connected on three passes for 53 yards, the last one a beautiful catch that saw the rookie receiver hang on despite a brutal hit that resulted in an unnecessary roughness penalty.
On the next snap, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore dialed up the trickery, as Prescott handed off to Elliott, who pitched it to wideout Cedrick Wilson on a reverse, who then tossed a pass to Prescott, who caught the ball just inside the right pylon for the score and a 24-20 lead at the break.
It was the first time a Cowboys quarterback had caught a touchdown pass since Danny White did so in 1985 and only the third time overall (also White in 1983).
That highlight would soon be overshadowed by perhaps the season's lowlight. After New York opened the third quarter with a 50-yard field goal, Dallas was on the move again when Prescott suffered his injury, forced to leave the game. Still stunned, the Cowboys did manage to regroup and were able to reach the end zone three plays later on a thundering Elliott run.
Not surprisingly, though, the Dallas offense struggled to get on track with Andy Dalton behind center. Case in point, after the Giants added yet another field goal, this from 28 yards, Dalton and rookie center Tyler Biadasz mishandled the snap on the Cowboys' first play of their next possession, New York recovering the fumble at the Dallas 17-yard line.
Soon enough, the Giants were in the end zone, running back Devonta Freeman bulldozing his way in from the 4-yard line. Their two-point conversion was good, putting New York back on top 34-31.
But the Cowboys weren't about to give up. Turning to its ground game, the Dallas offense chewed up 53 yards in 12 plays on its next series to set Zuerlein up for a 40-yard field goal, which tied the game with just under two minutes remaining. When the defense then forced a punt, out came Dalton and company with 52 seconds left on the clock.
And they did what they needed to do – thanks to Michael Gallup. The third-year receiver made two spectacular sideline catches , to advance the team 15 yards and then 19 to give Zuerlein one more try with only 3 seconds remaining.
"Greg the Leg" was good from 34 yards as time expired, giving the Cowboys the victory.
Dallas would finish with 402 yards of total offense, but did allow the Giants' struggling offense to gain 300 yards, convert 54 percent of its third-down tries and win the time of possession battle, 32:22 to 278:38. No matter. The Cowboys came out on top where it counted most – on the scoreboard.
It was a game of emotions, a thrilling last-second, come-from-behind victory providing the excitement, but the uncertainty of Prescott and what the future holds admittedly causing much concern.