In fitting fashion, an NFC East elimination game concluded with a running back sitting on his fumbled ball. Yes, sitting.
New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman coughed up the ball with 58 seconds to play, but officials ruled he secured it just enough to maintain possession after he literally sat on it. The Giants held off the final minute of Sunday's game, winning 23-19 Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The Dallas Cowboys have been eliminated from playoff contention.
The NFC East title will be decided by a "Sunday Night Football" matchup between the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles. Washington is in if it ties or wins. The Giants (6-10) will advance if Washington loses.
New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman (22) reaches for a fumble with Dallas Cowboys free safety Xavier Woods (25) in the second half at MetLife Stadium. (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports)
Neither the Giants nor the Cowboys played a clean game. Dallas’ offense stalled repeatedly, and its defense let up two early touchdowns.
But head coach Mike McCarthy will shoulder the blame for two questionable decisions.
On third-and-16, with 7:02 to play and the Giants up by 1, Giants receiver Dante Pettis did not appear to secure the catch on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Daniel Jones. Dallas chose not to challenge the play that immediately preceded the Giants’ 50-yard field goal. That, and the decision not to go for 2 after running back Ezekiel Elliott’s third-quarter touchdown, doomed the Cowboys.
Neither team converted a third down for the first 24 minutes of the game, and ball security made a difference. The Cowboys’ final drive ended on a quarterback Andy Dalton's interception in the end zone.
The Giants, despite an interception and two fumbles (one lost), terrorized the Cowboys offensive line and sacked Dalton six times — hitting him a total of nine times. Dalton’s pressure prohibited the Cowboys from jelling in the passing game as they had a week earlier in their 37-17 win over the Eagles.
The Giants snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory. The Cowboys, finishing their season at 6-10, snapped a three-game win streak.
NFC East eyes will turn the Sunday night game to determine whether a six- or seven-win team advances to the playoffs.
McCarthy’s eyes will turn to his second season in Dallas after an underwhelming first.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein
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