Aldrick Rosas made a career-high four field goals on Monday night. His longest attempt was 29 yards.
That meant two things. The Giants had their opportunities against the rival Cowboys, and they didn't capitalize on them. The result was a 37-18 runaway loss, the Giants' fifth in a row this season and sixth straight to Dallas.
The red zone woes began immediately after safety Antoine Bethea intercepted Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on the first play of the game. The Giants took over first-and-goal from the eight-yard line, but Saquon Barkley managed just five yards on two carries. Daniel Jones threw an incomplete pass, and Rosas came on for a 21-yard attempt. And so it went the rest of the game. Another Bethea takeaway, two long kickoff returns by Cody Latimer, and Barkley's 65-yard catch-and-run all ended in either a short field goal or a punt.
"I think we started better than we had in previous weeks, but we still missed a couple of opportunities to score touchdowns when we had the ball down there," Jones said. "That was costly for us. Yeah, in the middle of the game, kind of struggled. We were stagnant a little bit and couldn't move the ball consistently. It's frustrating. It's frustrating to lose, but we have to make sure we learn from it and we improve. I think that's what we'll do this week."
IT WAS OVER WHEN: Amari Cooper caught Prescott's pass over the middle in stride and took it 45 yards for a touchdown, putting the Cowboys ahead 30-18 with 7:56 left in the game. The Giants cut the deficit to five points on the previous possession, which meant anything less than a touchdown would have kept it a one-score game. The Giants have struggled to get off the field on third down and prevent the big plays this season. On this one particular third-and-12, they did neither. A few plays earlier, rookie cornerback DeAndre Baker was penalized 26 yards for pass interference.
PIVOTAL MOMENT: 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 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. 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.
"Hey listen, they were up by a point at halftime because we missed an extra point," Shurmur said of Rosas' extra point attempt that went off the right upright after the Jones' one-yard touchdown pass to Latimer in the first quarter. "Otherwise, you come out, you keep playing, do what you can to win the game and our guys did that. I think the turnovers hurt us. All of the things you can't do in a ball game happened and hurt us, and we lost."
"The energy coming into the locker room for halftime, we were all dialed in," Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith said. "We knew what we had to do, it was just a matter of time. We were presented with an opportunity and we succeeded."
WHAT THE LOSS MEANS FOR THE GIANTS: After falling in early holes the previous four weeks, the Giants grabbed a 12-3 lead on Dallas but didn't do enough to hold it. Next up is the Jets, who will be the "home" team after they fell to 1-7 with Sunday's loss to Miami. After that, the Giants go on their bye week.
"The way that I look at it and the way I look at life is there are going to be better days," Barkley said. "We are struggling right now and things aren't going our way, but I'm not going to lose my focus, I'm not going to lose belief in this team and this coaching staff. I'm just going to continue to come to work every single day and I am 100 percent sure that it will turn around. It just hasn't turned around as soon as we would have liked it to."
WHAT THE WIN MEANS FOR THE COWBOYS: They improved to 5-3 and, more importantly for them, 4-0 in the division. Dallas will try to become the first back-to-back NFC East champion since Philadelphia won four in a row in the early 2000s. The Cowboys' next test is a Sunday night home game against the 6-3 Vikings.
"We've got to beat these teams to control our destiny and put ourselves in the position that we want to be in," Prescott said. "This team - the tightness, the brotherhood, all of the things that I've talked about - we're not out here trying to prove anything to anybody. We're trying to prove it to each other. When you have a team that's close, you do that. You're able to block out the outside noise and not focus on people's opinions that don't matter. You just worry about yourself. You worry about the man next to you and how you get better. We definitely do that with this team."