AT A GLANCE: Settling for field goals eventually caught up to the Giants in a 37-18 loss to the Cowboys on Monday Night Football at MetLife Stadium. The Giants fell to 2-7 with their fifth consecutive loss while Dallas improved to 5-3 (4-0 in the NFC East).
UP NEXT: The Giants will be the “away” team in the MetLife Bowl against the Jets, who fell to 1-7 on Sunday with a loss to the Dolphins.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE OFFENSE:
*The Cowboys gifted the Giants an early possession thanks to Antoine Bethea’s interception on the first play from scrimmage. The Giants took over deep in Dallas territory but settled for a short field goal. That was the theme of the game as the offense went one of five in the red zone. The touchdown came on a one-yard pass from Daniel Jones to Cody Latimer, which Golden Tate set up with a sensational one-handed catch.
*Jones turned the ball over just before halftime, which proved to be a pivotal play in the game. The Giants had a chance to take a 12-10 lead into the locker room, but Xavier Woods intercepted a deep pass from Jones on a third-and-10 play from the Giants 29 with 39 seconds left. Woods returned the interception 29 yards back to the Giants 39. It eventually led to a 52-yard field goal by Brett Maher as time expired, giving the Cowboys their first lead. They never relinquished it from there. Jones also lost two fumbles, one of which the Cowboys returned for a touchdown with six seconds left in the game. The rookie has turned the ball over 15 times in his first seven career starts.
*Saquon Barkley was limited to 26 yards from scrimmage in the first half on nine carries and one catch. He eventually broke through with a 65-yard catch-and-run early in the fourth quarter, sparking the team after Dallas extended its lead to 23-15. However, once again, the Giants had to settle for a short field goal.
*The Giants announced Sunday that wide receiver Sterling Shepard would not play against Dallas.
“He practiced fully this week and was limited with no contact the two weeks before that,” said coach Pat Shurmur. “He told (Sr. VP Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer) Ronnie (Barnes) last evening (Saturday) he didn’t feel well and was sent for examination and evaluation. When he arrived for work this morning, he still did not feel well. At that point, the decision was made to continue in the concussion protocol.”
Shepard had missed the past three games after suffering a concussion vs. Minnesota on Oct. 6. He was cleared from the protocol on Friday afternoon after an appointment with the independent neurological consultant. The concussion suffered in the Minnesota game was Shepard’s second of the season. He originally complained of concussion symptoms following the season-opener in Dallas. He was then placed in the protocol and missed the following week’s game against Buffalo. He was cleared from the protocol on Friday, Sept. 20 and returned to game action that Sunday at Tampa Bay.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE DEFENSE:
*Safety Antoine Bethea intercepted Dak Prescott on the first play of the game. During the Cowboys’ five-game winning streak against the Giants, which they extended to six on Monday night, Prescott had thrown 13 touchdowns without an interception. The Giants took over deep in Cowboys territory after the turnover but settled for a field goal. Bethea got his hands on the ball again in the first half, recovering a Randall Cobb fumble forced by fellow safety Jabrill Peppers.
*The Giants gave up plenty of yards in the first half (225 to the Giants’ 123), but they stayed in the game because of their performance on third down, which had been their Achilles’ heel. Dallas entered the week No. 1 in third-down conversion rate, but was unsuccessful on its first three tries, including the fumble. The Cowboys converted one of their first seven third downs.
However, they converted when it counted the most. On third-and-12 midway through the fourth quarter, Prescott hit Amari Cooper over the middle and the wide receiver took it 45 yards for a touchdown. It put Dallas ahead 30-18 with 7:56 remaining. Previously on the drive, rookie cornerback DeAndre Baker was penalized 26 yards for pass interference on Prescott’s attempt for Cooper down the left sideline.
*Tight end Blake Jarwin, who has become a nemesis of the Giants, struck again just before halftime with a 42-yard touchdown. The undrafted third-year pro has six career touchdowns; five have come against the Giants.
*The Cowboys established the run early with Ezekiel Elliott gaining 43 yards of his 139 yards in the first quarter.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT SPECIAL TEAMS:
*Aldrick Rosas, a Pro Bowl selection a year ago, missed an extra point attempt off the right upright following Latimer’s touchdown in the second quarter. It was his second miss on an extra point in as many weeks. He made all four of his field goal attempts, none longer than 29 yards.
*Latimer’s 50-yard kickoff return out of the break was the longest of his career. He also broke a 41-yarder to set up a Giants field goal late in the third quarter.
INJURY REPORT: DAL – WR Amari Cooper (knee), S Jeff Heath (leg)
INACTIVES: NYG – WR Sterling Shepard, QB Alex Tanney, LB Chris Peace, LB Devante Downs, G Chad Slade, OT Eric Smith, DL RJ McIntosh. DAL – WR Cedrick Wilson, WR Devin Smith, LB Leighton Vander Esch, DE Joe Jackson, C/G Adam Redmond, OT Cameron Fleming, DT Trysten Hill.
LINEUP CHANGES: NYG – Darius Slayton for Shepard at WR. DAL – Joe Thomas for Vander Esch at LB.