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Giants beat Cowboys to stay alive in NFC East, now wait for Washington to decide playoff fate

Liz Roscher
·3-min read

The New York Giants did everything they could on Sunday to plow their way into the playoffs. They beat the Dallas Cowboys 23-19, turning back a late surge from Dallas.

Now their fate will be decided by the final game of the 2020 regular season. They have to wait to see if the Philadelphia Eagles will be their savior. If the Eagles beat the Washington Football Team on Sunday night, the Giants are the NFC East champion. If they lose, Washington is in and the Giants go home just like the Cowboys.

The NFC East champion will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over wild-card weekend.

New York's Dante Pettis celebrates after scoring on a 33-yard touchdown reception against Dallas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
New York's Dante Pettis celebrates after scoring on a 33-yard touchdown reception against Dallas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Giants fend off comeback attempt

The Giants manhandled the Cowboys in the first half. New York’s defense held Dallas quarterback Andy Dalton to just 16 passing yards in the first quarter. The Cowboys didn’t surpass 100 total yards of offense until there were 27 seconds left in the second quarter. The Giants scored three touchdowns in the first half, while all the Cowboys managed were three field goals.

The second half didn’t go quite as well. A tipped pass meant for Evan Engram was grabbed by the Cowboys, who promptly took it to the end zone. The Giants’ lead was narrowed to just four points, and on the very next drive they took a 15-yard penalty for an illegal crackback block and later had to punt.

Giving the ball back to Dallas became more dangerous as the game went on, but the Giants’ defense dug deep and got stops when they needed them most. The Cowboys made it down to the red zone at the end of the third quarter but had to settle for a field goal.

The Giants caught a break in the fourth quarter when a drop by Dante Pettis was called a catch by the referees, and Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t challenge it. It likely would have been overturned and taken the Giants out of field-goal range, but McCarthy didn’t throw the red flag.

Graham Gano then nailed a 50-yard field goal, giving the Giants a four-point lead and forcing the Cowboys to score a touchdown to win.

Ridiculous final minutes

It looked like the Cowboys were going to score that touchdown in the final minutes, but the game turned a full 180 when Dalton threw a pick in the end zone. All the Giants needed was to get a first down and the win would be theirs.

So of course Giants running back Wayne Gallman got the first down and then immediately fumbled.

The ball ended up at the bottom of a men, and then there were competing calls on the field. After a conference, the referees decided that Gallman recovered the ball, which McCarthy probably would have challenged if he could have. Instead it went to a booth review, which upheld the ruling and let the Giants run out the clock.

Gallman saved the Giants’ playoff chances with a fateful and creative recovery of his own fumble.

Now the Giants have to wait. Will they become the first team to start 0-5 to make the playoffs? Will Jalen Hurts and the Eagles pave the Giants’ way into the playoffs? Or was their hard-fought win against the Cowboys for nothing?

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