EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants won two Super Bowls under Tom Coughlin by being able to pressure the opposing quarterback and getting just enough big plays from Eli Manning and the offense to pull out a lot of close games.
In coach Ben McAdoo’s first season since taking over for Coughlin, the Giants (9-4) are using the same formula in a bid to end a four-year playoff drought.
It’s a formula that also has put the only two blemishes on the Dallas Cowboys’ record (11-2) this season.
The Giants’ defense befuddled rookie quarterback Dak Prescott on a cold, damp night, and Manning overcame a miserable performance to hook up with Odell Beckham Jr. on a go-ahead, 61-yard catch-and-run late in the third quarter as New York ended the Cowboys’ 11-game winning streak with a 10-7 victory Sunday .
“I think that everything is in front of us,” Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. “I think that we can be as good as we want to be. As long as we keep our head down and keep grinding away — it is still a long season. We have some games left and I am planning on playing in January. That is the goal right now, to get through December and play in January.”
If the defense plays the way it did against Dallas, the Giants are going back to the playoffs for the first time since winning the Super Bowl in February 2012 against the Patriots.
Steve Spagnuolo’s unit limited Dallas to a season-low 260 yards , held the Cowboys to 1 of 15 on third down and didn’t allow Ezekiel Elliott to bust a big run despite gaining 107 yards rushing.
New York cornerback Janoris Jenkins blanketed star receiver Dez Bryant for the second straight game, limiting him to one catch late and forcing a fumble on the same play. Bryant had two catches in two games against the Giants this season as the Cowboys scored a total of 26 points. They were scoring almost 28 per game this season entering Sunday night.
While saying they didn’t execute well, veteran Cowboys tight end Jason Witten gave credit to the Giants in a game they played without star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. He is out for the rest of the regular season because of a sports hernia.
“They were pressuring us,” Witten said. “They were bringing some heat and we weren’t able to capitalize on it. I tell you what, our defense kept us in the game. I thought they did a heck of a job. Giving us a chance, we didn’t play good enough.”
Beckham, who turned a short slant into a touchdown with an incredible burst of speed, felt the same way about the Giants’ offense.
“To me personally when you are not on the field and seeing what that defense does, that makes all the difference in the world,” he said. “The quote I’ve heard for a long time is offense wins games, defense wins championships, and this is a championship defense.”
Here are five takeaways from the game:
THE ROAD AHEAD: With three games left in the regular season, the Cowboys’ magic number for winning the NFC East is two. Any combination of wins by the Cowboys and losses by the Giants totaling two gives Dallas the division title. New York still has the best record among second-place teams in the NFC wild-card race. Dallas is home next weekend against Tampa Bay (8-5). The Giants host Detroit (9-4).
REPLACING JPP: Rookie free agent Romeo Okwara started for Pierre-Paul at left end and led the Giants with eight tackles and one of their three sacks. It was his first career sack. Linebacker Devon Kennard also filled in at defensive end and tackle in passing situations. He had six tackles and a sack.
DAK NOT A COLD-WEATHER GUY: Prescott didn’t seem to like the cold and it didn’t help that the ball was a little wet at times. He finished 17 of 37 for 165 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. “Knowing how talented our offense is, having high expectations of myself and stalling drive after drive, it gets frustrating,” Prescott said.
NO ROMO: Prescott’s struggles against the fierce Giants pass rush and sticky secondary didn’t have Dallas thinking about whether longtime starter Tony Romo should take over at quarterback.
Finally recovered from his back issues, Romo is the clear backup these days to the superb rookie. But Prescott wasn’t superb against New York.
So, naturally, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was asked about Romo. He smiled and, with emphasis, said no when the subject of Romo seeing action came up.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was asked if at any point he considered turning to Romo. Again, an emphatic no.
“We just feel good about Dak Prescott playing quarterback for us right now,” Garrett said.