East Rutherford -- Going into the Giants game, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said he and his teammates were in playoff mode. But midway through the fourth quarter, in that scenario, the Cowboys were dangerously close to being one-and-done.
"It was a grind," said Prescott. "It was a grind early."
Prescott's 50-yard touchdown hookup to receiver Dez Bryant just before the half was a sign of what the Cowboys could do, but through nearly 52 of 60 minutes, that one play was about it for a sputtering Cowboys offense.
Then it happened.
With 8 minutes left in the game, Prescott hits receiver Cole Beasley on a short route. One quick move later he was down the sideline for 54 yards, setting up the Cowboys go-ahead touchdown.
"The blitzed. We saw it. Beasley broke off his route quickly and went and made a play," said Prescott.
Prescott's ability to deliver the ball on time and in stride allowed Beasley just enough space to set up and beat the defender in front of him, and it turned into a big play at just the right time.
"I'm just glad we finally got some today," said Beasley. "It was a slow couple weeks, man. So, I'm just glad we're kinda getting our groove back."
Prescott able to decipher the Giants pressure defense and make them pay. The Cowboys racked up three air strikes for 50-or-more yards; a total of four passes for 20-or-more. That's the same number as the last four games combined.
"Sometimes when they bring that pressure, if you can get past that first line, you saw it with Dez's touchdown, it creates some holes," said tight end Jason Witten who caught a 20-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter that put the Cowboys ahead for good. "We're able to finally take advantage of it."
Significant and promising for an air attack that had been grounded since running back Zeke Elliott began his suspension.
"It's so hard when you're just nickel-and-diming all the way down the field. It's too hard to do that in this league," said Beasley. "It makes it so much easier when you have those big plays."
Before setting a career high with 332 passing yards in this game, Prescott had gone four games without throwing for 200 yards.
"The biggest takeaway I take from the game," said Prescott, "is getting the ball out, even though they're short routes having that confidence, giving that guy a good throw, a throw where he can shake off his man and go make a play."
While the Cowboys were struggling to find their footing in the passing game for most of what turned out to be a 20-point win, Prescott avoided making a costly mistake. With the season on the line, his patience and poise earned high marks from his veteran tight end.
"It says a lot for a young player to come into this league and have one of those games," said Witten. "Tremendous job by him staying poised and making plays down the stretch."
And seeing teammates streaking towards the end zone can't help but build confidence amongst a highly scrutinized offensive group.
"Definitely, it's confidence anytime you're doing well and then you're growing and you're feeling yourself and you're growing off of what your teammates are doing," said Prescott. "So, yeah, it's confidence, and it's good for us moving forward."
Now, as the Cowboys fight to keep their faint playoff hopes alive, they'll have a little extra juice.
And we all know they'll need it.