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New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys: Week 1 meetings are a tradition

Giants vs Cowboys
Credit - Al Bello/Getty Images

The New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys will open the 2019 regular season against each other in Arlington, Texas. It will be the fourth time in five years and fifth time in seven seasons the teams will meet in Week 1. This will also be the fifth straight Week 1 meeting between the teams at AT&T Stadium. There will be plenty of young talent on display, as PFN has discussed here with the Giants and here with the Cowboys. Let’s take a look at the last five Week 1 meetings in this classic rivalry.

2017 Week 1: Cowboys 19, Giants 3

The Cowboys were coming off the high of winning 13 games in the NFC East in 2016 in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott‘s rookie seasons, while the Giants were fresh off an 11-5 season. Both teams were knocked out of the playoffs by the Green Bay Packers.

The teams met under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football on NBC, though somebody forgot to remind the Giants that the season had started.

Prescott picked up right where he left off in 2016 with another excellent performance, and Dallas’ defense stifled the Giants’ offense. The Giants deserve credit for holding the Cowboys’ offense in check for most of the first half, forcing the Cowboys to continually settle for field goals, including on the opening drive of the game which included a fantastic diving catch near the goal line by Brice Butler.

Unfortunately, the Giants never got anything going on offense and were being shut out at halftime, while Prescott did find tight end Jason Witten in the end zone for a second-quarter touchdown. Witten became the all-time Cowboys leader in receiving yards during the game. The Cowboys took a 16-0 lead to the locker room. The Giants were without Odell Beckham, who suffered a sprained ankle in the preseason.

The second half didn’t produce any fireworks, as both teams only managed one field goal. Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley did make a fantastic behind-the-back catch in the fourth quarter.

A fourth-quarter interception of Eli Manning by Anthony Brown all but sealed the Cowboys’ 19-3 victory to kick off the 2017 season. Prescott finished 24/39 for 268 and one touchdown, while Manning went 29/38 for 220 yards and an interception.

Both teams wound up looking up at the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East, as the Cowboys finished 9-7 and the Giants went into disaster mode, which included an in-season firing of head coach Ben McAdoo in Week 13. New York finished 3-13, which led them to the No. 2 pick in the draft and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

2016: Giants 20, Cowboys 19

Both the Giants and Cowboys were ready for a fresh start after neither team fared well in 2015. The Giants went 6-10 while the Cowboys finished just 4-12.

After quarterback Tony Romo suffered a back injury in the preseason, fourth-round pick Dak Prescott took over the offense for Week 1 and quickly made friends with wide receiver Dez Bryant.

While the Cowboys were settling for field goals in the first half, the Giants were scoring touchdowns, as they had a 13-9 lead at the half thanks to touchdown receptions by tight end Larry Donnell and rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard.

No. 4 overall pick Ezekiel Elliott began making a name for himself with his first touchdown run in the second half that gave the Cowboys a 16-13 lead in the third quarter. Dallas would later add a 54-yard field goal from Dan Bailey for a 19-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.

With about six minutes left, facing third and goal, Manning found Victor Cruz in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. This was an emotional touchdown as this was Cruz’s first NFL game since October of 2014, as Cruz returned from a torn patellar tendon that cost him nearly two years of action. It was great to see the salsa back in the league. That score, and the ensuing extra point, gave the Giants a 20-19 lead.

Dallas tried to rally late, but Terrance Williams failed to run out of bounds as the final seconds ticked away, and Dallas’ hopes ticked away with it. The Cowboys never got another play off in time, and the Giants held on for the 20-19 victory. Manning finished 19/28 for 207 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Prescott’s debut was good for 25/45 for 227 yards. Ezekiel Elliott‘s first game saw him carry 20 times for 51 yards and a touchdown.

But as alluded to earlier, the Cowboys jumped on their magic carpet ride, as they would win their next 11 games and 13 of their next 14. Tony Romo never saw the field again, as the Cowboys stuck with Prescott all the way through. The Giants enjoyed a six-game winning streak during the season en route to an 11-5 finish and a spot in the playoffs.

2015: Cowboys 27, Giants 26

The Cowboys entered the 2015 season as the defending NFC East champions, while the Giants were coming off a 6-10 season.

There wasn’t a lot of action for most of the first half, as only field goals were being scored. But with about a minute to go before halftime, wide receiver Cole Beasley fumbled in Giants’ territory, and the loose ball was picked up by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who took it 57 yards for a touchdown and gave the Giants a 10-6 lead.

New York would add a field goal just before time ran out, thanks to an interception by Uani Unga after Romo’s pass went off the fingertips of Jason Witten.

Midway through the third quarter, the Cowboys were driving, and Romo found Williams in the end zone for a near touchdown, as Rodgers-Cromartie thought he made an excellent defensive stop. But the referees hit DRC with pass interference, setting Dallas up at the one-yard line. On the very next play, Romo found tight end Gavin Escobar and Dallas was within three at 16-13.

Poor ball handling was a huge storyline in this game. Beasley had his fumble. Preston Parker dropped a pass on third down in the fourth quarter that would have placed the Giants in the red zone. Cowboys receiver Devin Street had the ball popped out by Giants’ safety Brandon Meriweather and was recovered by Trumaine McBride, setting up the Giants at the one. Rashad Jennings would clean up for the Giants, and New York led 23-13.

But Dallas would not go down, even with Dez Bryant out with a broken foot. A nice catch and run by Cole Beasley put Dallas inside the five and Witten scored to move Dallas within 23-20.

Rashad Jennings did his best to keep the Giants’ offense on the field and keep the clock moving, including a 26-yard run to move the ball near the Dallas 40. An inexcusable personal foul penalty by Jeremy Mincey nearly put the Cowboys away for good. A 16-yard completion on third and 14 to Odell Beckham should have signaled the end of this game and put the Giants at 1-0 to start the season. “Should have” being the operative words in this case.

After Dallas burned through their timeouts, the Giants had third and goal with 1:40 left and could have run the clock down, but they got too aggressive and Manning threw an incomplete pass, settling for a field goal and stopping the clock with 1:37 left.

Cowboys’ running back Lance Dunbar came up huge with some clutch passes on the final drive. Then, on third and two from the Giants’ 11, Romo hits a strike to Witten with seven seconds left, and the Cowboys steal victory from the Giants by a score of 27-26.

Romo went 36/45 for 356 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Lance Dunbar caught eight passes for 70 and Jason Witten also caught eight passes for 60 yards and two touchdowns.

Eli Manning finished 20/36 for 189 yards.

2013: Cowboys 36, Giants 31

Neither team made the playoffs in 2012, with the Giants finishing 9-7 and the Cowboys going 8-8, both looking up at division champion the Washington Redskins.

Right out of the gate, Eli Manning had his struggles. His first pass, the first play from scrimmage, went directly to defensive end DeMarcus Ware. Dallas would turn that interception into a 30-yard Dan Bailey field goal.

Tony Romo wasn’t without his early struggles. He killed a likely scoring drive by throwing a red-zone interception by Ryan Mundy, who nearly took it for a touchdown. Running back DeMarco Murray ultimately saved four points by hustling to make the tackle inside the five and New York settled for three points. That tied the game at 3-3.

Dallas scored the next ten points by a 38-yard field goal from Bailey and a 15-yard touchdown pass from Romo to Witten.

Later in the second quarter, Manning heaved a deep pass to Victor Cruz and broke out the salsa 70 yards later. The Giants pulled within three points at 13-10.

Early in the third quarter, turnovers reared their ugly head again for the Giants as former first-round pick David Wilson fumbled and Barry Church went 27 yards the other way for a touchdown and a 20-10 lead.

Then, a muffed punt by the Giants led to another scoring opportunity for the Cowboys, and they capitalized. Romo found Witten again, this time from four yards out, to put Dallas up 27-10. But the Giants would not go away quietly.

With just under two minutes left, Victor Cruz got his dancing shoes on again, scoring from 18 yards out. Going into the fourth quarter, it was Cowboys 27, Giants 17.

In that fourth quarter, we had a salsa hat trick. After a Dallas field goal stretched the lead to 30-17, Manning and Cruz hooked up on a critical third down for Cruz’s third touchdown of the game and New York trailed by just six, 30-24.

The Giants had a chance to win it late. After the two-minute warning, New York had first and ten from their 48-yard line. Manning tried to hit running back Da’Rel Scott on a screen pass, but Scott wasn’t ready for the pass, the ball ended up in the hands of Brandon Carr and Dallas iced the game, taking a 36-24 lead after a failed two-point conversion.

The Giants scored a late touchdown, a four-yard score for Brandon Myers, but it was too little, too late. Dallas won it, 36-31, behind six Giants’ turnovers.

Tony Romo finished 36/49 for 263 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Eli Manning certainly helped fantasy owners, despite the loss. He went 27/42 for 450 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. The Giants also had three receivers top 100 yards in the game, led by Cruz with 118 yards on five catches and three touchdowns. Hakeem Nicks had five catches for 114 yards and Rueben Randle had five catches for 101 yards.

Dallas would endure their third-straight 8-8 season. New York went on to lose their first six games of the season but did win seven of their last ten games to finish 7-9. Both finished behind division-winning Philadelphia.

2012: Cowboys 24, Giants 17

The 2012 Giants were beginning defense of their Super Bowl championship, while the Cowboys were entering the second year of the Jason Garrett era, the first year ending at 8-8.

The Giants’ Super Bowl defense did not go according to plan, at least early on, as David Wilson fumbled, which was a rough start to his rookie campaign.

Luckily for the Giants, the Cowboys failed to produce any points and the first quarter went scoreless. In the second quarter, the Giants nearly had a pick-six from Michael Boley but was stopped just short of the goal line because of a horse-collar tackle. Weirdly, that penalty saved four points, because New York couldn’t find the end zone and had to call on Lawrence Tynes from 22 yards out to give the defending champs a 3-0 lead.

Just before halftime, Dallas struck for their first points of the game with a ten-yard touchdown from Kevin Ogletree. Dallas took a 7-3 lead to the locker room.

Just a few minutes into the third quarter, Romo and Ogletree hooked up for the second time in the game, this time for 40 yards, and Dallas quickly built a 14-3 lead.

Later in the third quarter, Ahmad Bradshaw rumbled ten yards to move New York within 14-10.

After a Dan Bailey field goal late in the third quarter, Dallas put themselves in a stable position to win the game thanks for a 34-yard touchdown reception by Miles Austin. Dallas led, 24-10, with about six minutes left.

The Giants fought hard late in the game, including multiple fourth-down conversions and got within seven after a nine-yard touchdown catch from Martellus Bennett. When New York couldn’t stop Dallas on the following drive, the Cowboys ran out the clock and took home a 24-17 win over the Super Bowl champions.

Dallas went 8-8 for the second year in a row, while New York’s Super Bowl run ended by missing the playoffs after a 9-7 season, behind the eventual division champion Redskins.

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