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Instant Analysis

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Instant Analysis: Giants lose wild finale to Cowboys

AT A GLANCE: On fourth-and-15 with 1:12 left in Sunday’s season finale between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, Dak Prescott rolled to his left and threw a ball up to Cole Beasley, who got one knee in before falling out of the back of the end zone for a 32-yard score. Prescott converted the ensuing two-point conversion with a pass to Michael Gallup, giving Dallas a 36-35 victory at MetLife Stadium. The fourth quarter saw four lead changes as the Giants lost a seven-point advantage they had built with 2:39 remaining in the game. The Giants finish the season 5-11 while the NFC East champion Cowboys head to the postseason as the No. 4 seed with a 10-6 record.

UP NEXT: Coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman will hold their end-of-season press conferences on Monday and Wednesday, respectively. Here are important league events and dates to keep in mind: Senior Bowl (Jan. 26), Pro Bowl (Jan. 27), NFL Honors awards show (Feb. 2), NFL Scouting Combine (Feb. 26-March 4), beginning of new league year and free agency (March 13), offseason workout program (April 15 at earliest), NFL Draft (April 25-27).

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE OFFENSE:

*Saquon Barkley added to his list of accomplishments on Sunday, breaking Reggie Bush’s NFL record for most receptions by a rookie running back (88 in 2006). He also become the third rookie in NFL history with 2,000 yards from scrimmage (Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James), and reached 100 scrimmage yards for the 13th time this season, tying Dickerson’s NFL rookie record. For good measure, he tied Odell Beckham Jr.’s franchise rookie record of 91 catches, and scored his 11th rushing touchdown to break the franchise rookie record.

*The Giants turned the ball over on the first two drives of the game. Eli Manning, who made his 242nd career start and 30th against the Cowboys (including postseason), was intercepted by cornerback Chidobe Awuzie in the end zone on the opening drive. On the second, defensive tackle Antwaun Woods recovered a sack-fumble caused by Demarcus Lawrence. The Giants are 0-6 in games they turned the ball over multiple times.

*Manning threw two touchdowns, including a six-yarder to Evan Engram late in the third quarter. He also hit the second-year tight end on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, bringing the Giants to within three points of the Cowboys. Engram continued his hot streak, breaking a 51-yard catch-and-run on the next possession. Wayne Gallman capped it off with a two-yard touchdown run, the first rushing score of his career, to take a 25-21 lead with 10:38 left in the game.

*Cody Latimer caught his first touchdown as a Giant and made perhaps the team’s most spectacular catch of the season. With 15 seconds remaining in the first half, Latimer hauled in a 21-yard pass from Manning in the end zone, catching it in stride with his left hand and getting both feet inbounds. Latimer, the former Bronco who signed with the Giants this offseason, was activated off injured reserve just two weeks ago. He did not play from Weeks 7-15. Latimer had a second circus catch on third-and-third for a gain of 31 yards, setting up a first-and-goal with under five minutes left in the game.

*The Giants dressed all three of their quarterbacks for the first time this season with Alex Tanney and rookie fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta backing up Manning. Lauletta lined up at wide receiver for a play, which resulted to a 26-yard run by Barkley on the opening drive.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE DEFENSE:

*The Cowboys rested running back Ezekiel Elliott, who entered the final week of the season with a 183-yard lead on Todd Gurley and 236 on Barkley for his second career rushing title. They also played without perennial Pro Bowl offensive linemen Zack Martin (knee) and Tyron Smith (neck), who appeared on this week’s injury report.

*Quarterback Dak Prescott did start for the Cowboys and four touchdowns, three of which went to tight end Blake Jarwin. The second-year undrafted pro had 20 career receptions entering Sunday, none of which were touchdowns.

*Outside linebacker Olivier Vernon, a first alternate for the Pro Bowl despite missing the first five games the season with an injury, recorded 2.5 sacks and three quarterback hits. It was his third game of the year with multiple sacks. With a half-sack, defensive tackle B.J. Hill broke Giants’ rookie sacks record (5.0), held by Andy Headen in 1983 and Cornelius Griffin in 2000. Note: Lawrence Taylor had 9.5 his rookie season in 1981, one year before sacks became an official stat.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT SPECIAL TEAMS:

*Pro Bowl kicker Aldrick Rosas made both of his field goal attempts from 48 and 38 yards. He entered Sunday two-tenths of a percent behind San Francisco’s Robbie Gould (97.0) for the best rate in the NFL. Rosas missed just one of his 33 attempts this season.

*Corey Coleman entered Sunday ranked fifth in kickoff return average (25.8 yards per attempt) and broke a 38-yarder to start the game. He also added 19 yards on a punt return.

INJURY REPORT: NYG – CB Grant Haley (concussion), WR Corey Coleman (foot). DAL – G Xavier Su'a-Filo (ankle).

INACTIVES: NYG – WR Odell Beckham Jr. (quad), DL Mario Edwards (calf), TE Rhett Ellison (concussion), LB Alec Ogletree (concussion), WR Russell Shepard (ankle), S Kamrin Moore, TE Garrett Dickerson. DAL – RB Ezekiel Elliott, DE Tyrone Crawford (neck), DL David Irving (ankle), QB Mike White, LB Chris Covington, G Zack Martin (knee), OT Tyron Smith (neck).

LINEUP CHANGES: NYG – Scott Simonson 85 Ellison at TE, Bennie Fowler for Beckham at WR, Tae Davis for Ogletree at $LB. DAL – Rod Smith for Elliott at RB.

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