The New York Giants hosted the NFC East leader and bitter rival Dallas Cowboys to cap off NFL Week 9 on Monday Night Football.
A game many figured would turn into an easy win for Dallas quickly turned into a sloppy game that gave the Giants a shot. By halftime, the Cowboys led by just one point, 13-12.
After a third quarter that saw Dallas maintain its one-point lead, the ‘Boys finally broke out in the fourth quarter and put the game away, winning 37-18.
Funny enough, it was a feline that stole the show as these teams slogged their way through most of Monday night’s game. These are the biggest winners and losers from the Cowboys’ victory over the Giants on Monday Night Football.
Winner: Amari Cooper came through in the clutch
Early in the first quarter, after catching his first pass of the game, Amari Cooper took an awkward tumble and tweaked his left knee. He spent time on the sideline trying to loosen up and worked with trainers. He then he came back into the game and gutted through what was obviously a painful injury.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Cooper had managed just three catches for 35 yards and seemed to be acting more as a decoy than anything else. Then, when his team needed him the most midway through the fourth quarter, Cooper exploded with a 45-yard touchdown that essentially sealed the win (watch here).
Stars find a way even when the going is tough. That is exactly what Cooper did for the ‘Boys on a night that saw Dallas playing at a substandard level most of the night.
Loser: New York’s offensive line was dominated
We would have loved to see Saquon Barkley run more than just 14 times. He can break off a touchdown from anywhere on the field, on any play. He showed that on a brilliant 65-yard reception Monday night. But given how thoroughly the Cowboys whipped New York’s offensive line in the trenches, it’s not surprising the second-year back was unable to do anything on the ground (28 yards rushing).
The Giants also struggled to protect Daniel Jones, who was under pressure on most passing plays. Jones was sacked five time, hit 11 times, lost his ninth and tenth fumbles of the season (one of which was returned for a touchdown) and had to scramble away from defensive linemen often on Monday night.
Winner: Antoine Bethea in the right place at the right time
On the game’s first play from scrimmage, this 35-year-old safety showed he was going to be a factor. Dak Prescott dropped back to pass, then let go a ball that he immediately regretted, throwing it right where Bethea was lurking. The Giants scored a field goal afterward, taking an early lead.
Then, in the second quarter, Jabrill Peppers put a hit on Randall Cobb, and the ball popped out. Wouldn’t you know it, Bethea was in the right place at the right time once more for his second takeaway of the game.
Bethea came into this Monday Night Football game with zero takeaways on the season. Needless to say, he made up for lost time.
Loser: Giants’ defensive front was made of Swiss cheese
If Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore wanted to, he could have abandoned the passing game almost completely and just fed Ezekiel Elliott all night long. As it was, Zeke rushed for 139 yards on 23 carries and broke off multiple long runs as his offensive line paved superhighways for him to run through.
New York pulled off a trade ahead of the deadline to acquire Leonard Williams from the New York Jets. While Williams did flash a few times against Dallas, the Giants’ front seven was nothing more than a blocking sled to push around for the Cowboys.
Winner: Blake Jarwin with catch of his career
The Cowboys were down 12-3 with just about a minute left in the second quarter. Dak Prescott evaded pressure, extended the play with his legs and then found backup tight end Blake Jarwin.
Jarwin did the rest all by himself.
This 42-yard gain was a career long for the 25-year-old former undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State. This play sparked what was ultimately a big win for the Cowboys over the Giants on Monday Night Football.
Loser: Refs keep doing this and it’s awful
Last week, we highlighted the refs for the putrid work they’re doing when it comes to pass interference. The whole, “you can challenge now” thing is a huge joke, barring only the most extreme cases.
During the fourth quarter, Daniel Jones tried to hit Bennie Fowler in the middle of the field, but Chidobe Awuzie hit him well before the ball arrived.
Head coach Pat Shurmur was furious, rightfully so, that no pass interference was called. So, despite overwhelming evidence that the league won’t overturn these, he challenged. Predictably, the call on the field was upheld.
Then, just a short while afterward, Giants rookie Deandre Baker was called for pass interference on a play against Amari Cooper. But no matter how many times you watch the play it’s hard to justify that he deserved the brutal penalty.
The league has a huge problem. Egregious mistakes by officials cannot continue to dominate games.
Perhaps NFL Hall of Famer and Fox Sports broadcaster Troy Aikman said it best: