The New York Giants might be a bad team with an even worse defense, but at least they have Odell Beckham and his catch to feel proud of. The Dallas Cowboys, meant for bigger and greater this season, have a lot more to offer, including an offensive line that continues to make Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray look great when it matters.
Tony Romo was sacked twice, but the Giants found it incredibly difficult to get to him, especially during the final drive, as Romo completed six passes to advance the Cowboys from their own 20, behind by four points and only three minutes on the clock to begin with. He finished it with a 13-yard pass to Dez Bryant, scoring the game winning touchdown (31-28) and leaving the Giants with one minute and a second to try and pull off a comeback.
While this wasn’t a bad day for Eli Manning (three touchdowns, one interception, 338 yards), there just wasn’t anything left in the tank after the demoralizing moment of watching Bryant score his second touchdown of the day. Manning moved them forward eight yards, falling short of the first down to try and keep the game alive by a few inches. The Giants fall to 3-8, losing six games in a row, and are tied for last in the division along with the Washington Redskins.
The Cowboys on the other hand improve to 8-3, and unless some huge collapse happens from now until the season is actually over, it’s hard to see them not making the playoffs. Their defense is still one of the worst in the league, but the Cowboys’ offense has been so good it keeps that unit off the field. They lost the possession battle this time with the Giants, but got what they wanted in the second half. Romo threw three touchdown passes to bring them back from 11 points down at half time, making it his fourth career game of four touchdowns and no interceptions, with two coming against the Giants.
DeMarco Murray ran for 121 yards on 24 carries. No touchdowns for the best running back in the league this season, but it’s his 10th game of 100 yards or more, putting him only one game behind the 11 Emmitt Smith had in 1995, still the franchise record. Murray leads the NFL in rushing with 1354 yards so far, more than 400 yards above Le’Veon Bell. His 5.1 yards per carry average is good for sixth in the NFL and is the best for backs with over 170 carries.
While the Cowboys have a bad defense, the Giants are on a whole other level when it comes to trying and stop teams. They’ve managed to do a good job in rebuilding their offensive line, although it was quite clear from the time Manning had to throw the ball that they’re not at the level the Cowboys have reached, building through the draft with high picks year after year to fix their biggest issue since 2010. The Cowboys had 21 less plays on offense than the Giants, but averaged 7.3 per play and advanced only 30 yards less.
Not having too much of a running game, despite holding the lead for most of the game, doesn’t help. Rashad Jennings hasn’t been the same since his injury, carrying the ball 19 times for only 52 yards, and the Giants finishing with a total of 89. The Cowboys don’t use anyone other than Murray, but even though everyone knows what’s going to happen, it’s incredibly difficult to stop it, especially with the threat of Romo, who also found Jason Witten and Cole Beasley for touchdowns in the game.
This is the best team the Cowboys have had in a very long time. They still have three division games left, twice against the Eagles and once against the Redskins who beat them in Dallas. However, they’re a perfect 5-0 on the road which says something about how this team has also improved mentally and not just skill wise. It’s probably premature to talk about their Super Bowl chances, but in a season that began with their heads down after being beaten up by the 49ers, it’s almost refreshing to see them look so poised and calm during moments of duress.