It wasn't quite the Dez Catch, but Sunday's reception-in-question did factor into the Cowboys' season-ending 23-19 loss to the Giants at the Meadowlands.
Dante Pettis' 10-yard catch midway through the fourth quarter put the Giants in position for a field goal to take that four-point lead -- and Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy was asked afterward why he didn't challenge that the pass was incomplete.
"The catch, it was obviously down in our area and the way the receiver turned to me and the information, we just felt it was too close," McCarthy said. "We just felt it was kind of a bang-bang type situation. The fact of the matter, we were in a tight game and the three timeouts was obviously of high value there. We just didn't there was enough information to overturn it."
It did appear that the ball might have hit the ground before Pettis had control, but as McCarthy said, the officials would have needed indisputable evidence to overturn their on-field ruling of a catch.
Nevertheless, the play had a major impact on the rest of the game.
Before quarterback Daniel Jones' 10-yard completion to Pettis, the Giants were facing third-and-16 from the Cowboys' 42-yard line. An incompletion would have kept them out of reasonable field goal range. Instead, Pettis set them up for a Graham Gano 50-yard field goal to make the score 23-19.
The Cowboys' offense drove to the Giants' 7 in the final two minutes, but they needed a touchdown to win the game, not merely a field goal. On third-and-17 with 1:24 left, quarterback Andy Dalton, scrambling to his left to avoid pressure, threw a jump ball into the end zone that Giants safety Xavier McKinney intercepted.
Despite a near-fumble by running back Wayne Gallman Jr., the Giants (6-10) were able to run out the clock and mathematically eliminate the Cowboys (6-10) from playoff contention.
Regarding the Cowboys' normal challenge process, McCarthy said he has assistant coaches in the upstairs stadium booth that provide replay information, and he makes the final decision on the sideline.
Three Cowboys assistant coaches -- assistant head coach Rob Davis, assistant special teams coach Matt Daniels and offensive assistant Scott Tolzien -- did not travel with the team to New Jersey while adhering to NFL protocols related to COVID-19, but McCarthy said their absence did not impact their review process of the Pettis catch.
McCarthy was also asked about his decision not to try a two-point conversion after the Cowboys trimmed the Giants' lead to 20-15 midway through the third quarter. Successfully going for two would've made it a three-point game.
"Not at that point in the game. It was too early in the game to go for two in my opinion there," McCarthy said.