It took two trips to the Big Apple, but the Dallas Cowboys finally got the result they wanted … and needed.
After an unexpected loss to the Jets in Week 6 of this season, the Cowboys were determined to write a different story on their second visit to the Meadowlands this year. And although it was often ugly, in the end the favored team did exactly what it was supposed to do, defeating the rival New York Giants, 37-18.
The Cowboys offense was largely unstoppable throughout the night – when they didn't stop themselves. Ezekiel Elliott led the effort as he rushed for 139 yards, his fifth time topping the century mark this season.
He wasn't alone, though, as Dak Prescott also had another quality outing. The quarterback completed 62.9 percent of his passes, totaling 257 yards and three touchdowns for a 101.7 passer rating. Five different players pulled in at least 30 receiving yards, Amari Cooper leading the way with 80 overall on the night.
Defensively, the Cowboys held dangerous running back Saquon Barkley to only 28 yards rushing, the Giants offense as a whole earning 271 yards of offense. New York did manage to enter the red zone five times, but Dallas only allowed one touchdown to the home side. Led by the likes of Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee and DeMarcus Lawrence, the Cowboys recorded three takeaways and five sacks.
Of course, the game didn't exactly get off to a great start. Prescott hadn't thrown an interception in 184 career pass attempts against the Giants, but sure enough, on the very first play of the night he was picked off by safety Antoine Bethea, giving the home team great field position at the Cowboys' 8-yard line.
The Dallas defense was up to the task this time around, keeping New York out of the end zone and forcing a chip-shot field goal. The same couldn't be said, though, on the Giants' third possession of the night. This time, they were able to take it the distance, reaching the end zone in 10 plays covering 56 yards with quarterback Daniel Jones finding a wide open Cody Latimer on the right side of the end zone for the game's first touchdown. The Giants' Aldrick Rosas, however, would miss the extra point.
While New York already had nine points early in the second quarter, they were doing little to stop the Cowboys offense. Not that it mattered much as Dallas unfortunately was doing a fine job of shutting down itself.
On their second series of the game, the Cowboys quickly answered New York's field goal with a field goal of their own, this a 35-yard kick by Brett Maher. But Maher then missed a 54-yard attempt on the team's next series, which was then followed by Dallas turning the ball over again on their fourth possession.
All looked well at first, as Prescott had his troops marching and had reached the Giants' 37-yard line. But after he completed a short 5-yard pass to Randall Cobb, the receiver had the ball knocked loose, and there was Bethea again coming up with the honors, falling on the fumble.
That led to a 25-yard field goal by the Giants' Aldrick Rosas and a two-possession lead. This after the game was briefly halted during New York's possession because a black cat was on the field.
A sign? It sure seemed like it was that kind of night for the Cowboys.
But maybe the omen was a good one for the visitors as soon thereafter the momentum changed. Over the final 2:50 of the second quarter, Dallas would put up 10 points, completely turning around what had been a horror show of a first half.
It began on their next series when the Cowboys needed only six plays and 1:58 of clock to pick up the 75 yards needed to reach the goal line. The score came on a second-and-10 at the New York 42-yard line when Prescott rolled to his right to avoid pressure and found tight end Blake Jarwin open on the right side.
There the Giant killer corralled the low pass, turned upfield and then rumbled all the way to the end zone. Five of Jarwin's six career touchdowns have now come against the NFC East foe.
Dallas, though, wasn't done. Just 26 seconds later, safety Xavier Woods hauled in an ill-advised pass attempt from Jones and returned the interception 29 yards to the New York 39-yard line. Given the gift, the team turned to Maher, who split the uprights on a 52-yarder as the clock hit zero to give the Cowboys a 13-12 advantage at the break.
The good fortune continued into the third quarter, as the Giants turned the ball over once again. This time Jones scrambled to reach the first-down marker, only to be rocked by Woods, who forced the ball loose.
Fellow safety Darian Thompson fell on the prize, and six plays later, Maher was kicking a 28-yard field goal to give the Cowboys three more points.
New York would respond with a field goal of its own, but as the third quarter ticked over into the fourth, Dallas went on the move again. Keeping his cool in the pocket, Prescott eventually scrambled for 11 yards on a third-and-3 at the Giants' 31 yard line, and then on the very next play, checked off to Michael Gallup, who slipped down the right sideline before making an acrobatic leap into the end zone to give Dallas a 23-15 lead.
As the game began to get chippy, scrums of pushing and shoving happening more often, the Giants weren't going away. Thanks to a career-long 65-yard catch-and-run by Barkley, New York was able to work back into the red zone, but again the defense stood tall, forcing another field goal.
It wasn't nearly enough. Prescott came right back on a third-and-12 with a 45-yard completion to Cooper that saw the receiver break free across the middle and then race all the way to the corner of the end zone. With the touchdown, Dallas reached the 30-point mark for the fifth time in eight games this season, all of which have been wins.
Just for good measure, the always opportunistic Jourdan Lewis later capped the scoring by scooping up a Jones fumble with 22 seconds remaining and darted 63 yards to the house, the final punctuation on a, shall we say, interesting night.
As they now enter the toughest part of their schedule, the Cowboys improved to 5-3 on the season, running their winning streak over the Giants to six straight games and maintaining their first place lead in the NFC East.
44 straight wins when up by 7+ in the fourth quarter.