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Recap: Giants defeat Cowboys in 2020 finale

DANIEL-JONES-ARMS-UP

The Giants have lived to see another day – but only if the Philadelphia Eagles help them tonight.

In a memorable afternoon in MetLife Stadium Sunday, the Giants defeated Dallas, 23-19, to end a three-game losing streak entering the game and a seven-game losing streak to the Cowboys. More importantly, they keep their hopes alive for the NFC East title and the opportunity to host an NFC Wild Card Game next weekend. But they will be division champions only if the Washington Football Team loses tonight to the Eagles in Philadelphia. If Washington wins, the Giants will be the NFC East's second-place team.

No matter where they stand, the Giants finish Joe Judge's first season as coach 6-10, their best record since they were 11-5 in 2016. Their 3-5 record in MetLife Stadium is their best since they were 7-1 in 2016. Their division record is 4-2, also their best since that season (4-2). Dallas is also 6-10 but will lose a tiebreaker to the Giants because of their 3-3 division record.

The victory was the Giants' first against Dallas since Dec. 11, 2016.

The two Giants-Cowboys game this season were decided by a total of seven points (the Cowboys won on Oct. 11 in Dallas, 37-34).

This was the Giants' second division victory this season in which they scored 20 points in the first half and just three in the second. On Nov. 8 in Washington, they owned a 20-3 halftime lead and won, 23-20.

The Giants swept NFC East foes Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington at home for the first time since 2005.

UP NEXT:

We won't know until tonight. If Philadelphia defeats Washington, the Giants will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an NFC Wild Card Game next week. The Giants lost to the Bucs on Nov. 2 in MetLife, 25-23. Should Washington win, the Giants' next game will be the 2021 season opener.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE OFFENSE:

The Giants won thanks to big performances from their key players.

Daniel Jones completed 17 of 25 passes for 229 yards, two touchdowns and his first interception in two months. Sterling Shepard had game-high totals of eight receptions for 112 yards, his ninth career 100-yard game and first of the season. The yardage total was Shepard's highest since he had 113 yards at Indianapolis on Dec. 23, 2018.

Shepard scored touchdowns on a 23-yard run and a 10-yard reception.

Wayne Gallman led the Giants' 125-yard rushing attack with 65 yards on 11 carries.

The Giants took a 6-0 lead just 3:14 into the game when Shepard scored on a 23-yard reverse just 3:14 into the game. It was the Giants' fourth opening-possession touchdown this season and second against Dallas. The others were vs. Philadelphia on Nov. 15 and at Cincinnati on Nov. 22. Each of the first-series touchdowns against the Cowboys were scored on runs by players at positions where carrying the ball is not their primary function; tight end Evan Engram scored on a three-yard run in Dallas. Graham Gano's extra point attempt was wide left.

Shepard scored the first touchdown and had the longest run by a Giants wide receiver since Dec. 29, 2013, when Jerrell Jernigan ran for a 49-yard score in a victory against Washington in MetLife. Entering Week 17, nine NFL wide receivers had rushed for touchdowns this season.

Shepard also had a one yard run later in the first quarter. He has each of the last three multiple-carry games by a Giants wideout. Shepard had two rushing attempts vs. Detroit on Sept. 18, 2017 and at Tampa Bay on Sept. 22, 2019.

Shepard also scored the Giants' second touchdown on a 10-yard pass from Jones. It is the first time in Shepard's five-year, 65-game career he scored two touchdowns in a game.

Shepard is the second Giants player with a two-touchdown game this season. Gallman scored on runs of two and one yards in a victory against Philadelphia on Nov. 15.

Shepard is the first Giants player with a rushing and receiving touchdown in the same game since Dec, 22, 2019, when Saquon Barkley scored on a 67-yard run and a 33-yard catch in an overtime victory at Washington.

Wide receiver Dante Pettis, playing in just his second game for the Giants, scored on a 33-yard pass from Jones with 45 seconds remaining in the second quarter. The score extended the Giants' lead to 20-6.

Pettis was awarded to the Giants off waivers on Nov. 4, a day after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers. He spent 10 days on the Reserve/COVID-19 list before being reinstated on Dec. 1. Pettis scored his first touchdown with the Giants on his 41st career reception.

The Giants led at halftime, 20-9. It was their second-largest halftime lead of the season. On Nov. 8, they led Washington, 20-3, on their way to a 23-20 victory.

Jones' first pass of the second half was intercepted by safety Donovan Wilson. It was the Giants' first turnover since Colt McCoy lost a fumble on their final offensive play against Arizona on Dec. 13. The Giants had gone 23 possessions and 145 offensive plays without committing a turnover.

The interception was the first thrown by Jones since Nov. 2 against Tampa Bay. Jones had thrown a career-high 177 passes without an interception.

View photos from the Week 17 matchup between the Giants and Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE DEFENSE:

The Giants' defense dominated a Dallas offense that had scored 108 points in three consecutive victories entering the game. The Cowboys scored only one touchdown and got four field goals from Greg Zuerlein.

The unit sacked Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton six times, including three by Leonard Williams, who was credited with five quarterback hits. The Giants finished the season with 40 sacks, their highest total since they had 47 in 2014. Williams led the team with 11.5 sacks, the most by a Giants' player since Jason Pierre-Paul's 14.5 in 2014.

Two linebackers – veteran Blake Martinez and rookie Tae Crowder – led the Giants with 11 total tackles apiece.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT SPECIAL TEAMS:

Kicker Graham Gano earned two lines in the Giants' record book. His 50-yard field goal with 6:27 remaining in the fourth quarter was his 30th consecutive successful attempt, a franchise record. He had shared the mark of 29 with Josh Brown, who hit 29 straight attempts in 2014-15.

Gano made 31 of 32 attempts this season, a .9687 percentage that is the second highest in Giants history. In 2018, Aldrick Rosas made 32 of 33 attempts, a success rate of .9696.

Gano kicked his fifth field goal this season of 50 or more yards, including four against the Cowboys. That is a franchise single-season record. Brown (2014) and Rosas (2018) each had four.

Greg Zuerlein's 57-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter is tied for the second-longest ever against the Giants. Green Bay's Mason Crosby kicked a 57-yarder in MetLife on Nov. 17, 2013. Current Dallas coach Mike McCarthy was then the Packers' head coach. Current Giants kicker Graham Gano booted the longest field goal against the Giants, a 61-yarder for the Panthers at Carolina on Oct. 7, 2018.

Gano's extra point try after the Giants' first touchdown was wide left. This season, he missed more attempts on extra points (two) than on field goals (one).

INJURY REPORT:

NYG: None

DAL: Wide receiver Noah Brown injured his back in the first half and did not return.

INACTIVES:

NYG: The Giants' inactive players were wide receiver Golden Tate, defensive back Madre Harper, punter Ryan Santoso, offensive linemen Kyle Murphy and Jackson Barton and defensive end RJ McIntosh.

DAL: The Cowboys' inactive players were guard Zack Martin, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, quarterback Ben DiNucci, cornerback Rashard Robinson, running back Sewo Olonilua and defensive end Bradlee Anae.

LINEUP CHANGES:

NYG: Julian Love replaced Isaac Yiadom at cornerback opposite James Bradberry. Yiadom had started the previous eight games. But Love, a safety for most of this two Giants seasons, played well at corner two weeks ago, when Bradberry was inactive against Cleveland.

DAL:

Giants.com hands out game balls to the top performers from the Giants' 23-19 win over the Cowboys in Week 17.

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