The Dallas Cowboys needed a win in New York and got it against a Giants team that was giving nothing away with an interim head coach.
Now 2-11, the New York Giants were supposed to just lay down and allow their hated division rivals to keep their playoff hopes alive. With interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo manning the sidelines for ousted Ben McAdoo and Eli Manning returning to his starting position after an unceremonious week off, it was actually another quarterback who took center stage in the Big Apple.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had yet to beat the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. For more than three quarters on Sunday, it was still highly uncertain that he’d do it this season.
Prescott offered a hint of what was to come with a 50-yard touchdown catch-and-run to Dez Bryant that tied this game at 10-10 just before halftime. To that point, very little had happened for the Dallas offense following a game-opening drive that consumed 7:46 on 16 plays. The field goal that resulted was hardly the kind of statement that the Cowboys wanted to make, but the Bryant touchdown was a precursor.
The third quarter offered nothing for either team, but Dak Prescott and the Dallas offense exploded in the fourth quarter.
While Prescott led that long drive to open the game, he also proved that he could move the ball quickly.
Still tied at 10-10, Dak Prescott faced a critical 3rd and 2 from his own 21 yard-line with just over eight minutes remaining. Cole Beasley, whose opportunities in the offense have plummeted in 2017, caught a short pass to the outside against a Giants blitz, bounced back inside and raced 54 yards to the New York 20 yard-line. Just like that, Prescott was in position to get the Cowboys back in front, even if Dan Bailey missed two field goals and an extra point before all was said and done.
Nonetheless, the very next play Prescott hit Jason Witten for his first and only catch of the day, which went for a 20-yard touchdown and a 17-10 lead with 7:38 remaining – still a ballgame, right?
After the Dallas defense forced New York’s seventh-straight punt, Dak Prescott went back to work while still needing some points to put the game on ice.
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With 4:20 remaining from his own 18 yard-line, Prescott went down the middle to Rod Smith for an 81-yard catch-and-run that scored the first of this third-year player’s two touchdowns on the day. Both of which made this game look much less competitive than it really was.
All in all, Prescott tallied 332 yards on 20/30 passing and added three touchdowns.
How about 137.1?
Again, Bailey was off all day in the windy conditions in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The defense didn’t force a turnover until the game was all but out of reach and there were no sacks. No, this was not the same deal you saw on Week 13 against the Washington Redskins. In fact, special teams were a liability as opposed to a catalyst to victory.
This game played out like one of those memorable games between these two teams back in the early 1980s at the old Giants Stadium when Bill Parcells was trying to surpass Tom Landry. New York even wore it’s white jerseys and pants along with helmets that featured the word ‘Giants,’ as opposed to ‘NY.’
The final score aside, this game was about Dak Prescott playing smart, patient football that wasn’t always easy or encouraging to watch. This game was about a young quarterback buying his time until the right moments to strike came along.
Rod Smith, with 160 all-purpose yards was huge – he was probably the MVP of this game if you take away Prescott’s awesome performance. Sean Lee was big on several occasions, which included his fourth quarter interception that put the Cowboys in position to run away from a weakened and demoralized opponent.
But to be clear, Dak Prescott was the main reason that the Dallas Cowboys are just 60 minutes away from the return of Ezekiel Elliott.
A 30-10 win over the Giants was bigger than big, but fasten your seat belts for Week 15 as the Dallas Cowboys visit the Oakland Raiders on Sunday night football.