A questionable catch that led to a field goal thwarted the Dallas Cowboys’ hopes for the playoffs in a 23-19 loss to the New York Giants. Giants receiver Dante Pettis appeared to have trapped a dropped pass on the turf that put them in kicker Grahm Gano’s range hitting a 50 yarder with 4:10 left in the game. Dallas got a far as the Giant’s 17-yard line before being intercepted in the end zone allowing New York to run the clock out.
The Cowboy offense struggled once again putting touchdowns on the board settling for four Greg Zuerlein field goals. Quarterback Andy Dalton faced pressure all day being sacked six times. He threw for 243 yards with an interception. In a sign of how bad the ground was, Dalton led in rushing with 48 yards while running back Ezekiel Elliott had 42 yards and a score on 14 carries. Tight end Dalton Schultz led in receiving with seven catches for 70 yards. After a slow first-half that saw them gain just 113 yards, they finished with 307 yards and 26 first downs.
Defensively, despite forcing two turnovers, allowed a Giants team that entered the day with two offensive touchdowns in the last three games to score three touchdowns. The main culprit for the Giants’ success was receiver Sterling Shepard who had a game-high eight catches for 112 yards and a touchdown. Linebacker Jaylon Smith led with 10 tackles while end Demarcus Lawrence and safety Donovan Wilson each had a sack. Wilson also had the unit’s only interception early in the fourth leading to an Elliott touchdown. Corner Chidobe Awuzie recovered a fumble in the first quarter leading to a field goal. The two turnovers today marked the Cowboys’ twelfth forced turnover in the last four games the most in the league. They scored 60 points off the turnovers. On the day they held the Giants to 336 yards and allowed zero third-down conversions.
New York opened the game with a quick six-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 23-yard Shepard touchdown taking an early 6-0 lead after a missed extra point. Awuize’s fumble recovery set up a Cowboys field goal making it 6-3 after one. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones tossed a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter one to Shepard and one to Pettis besting two Cowboys field goals. Elliott’s 1-yard touchdown run was the only score of the third while each team traded a field goal in the final frame.
Dallas finishes an injury-riddled season 6-10 and third in the division.