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Dallas Cowboys lose to New York Giants in last bid for playoffs

New York won 23-19 and will win the NFC East if Washington loses.
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott runs the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Dallas' playoff hopes are over after losing to New York 23-19 Sunday.

The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants entered the final weekend of the regular season both with chances to make the playoffs despite sub-.500 records.

In what is in essence a playoff elimination game, the loser of Sunday's game will no longer have a shot at the postseason, so the winner between the Cowboys and Giants will be watching the NFL's regular-season finale to find out their playoff fate.

Here's why:

Washington (6-9) and Dallas (now 6-10) were tied for first place, but Washington held the tiebreaker based on head to head. So Washington will win the division if they beat Philadelphia during the Sunday Night Football match.

A Washington loss and Cowboys win would have given Dallas the East. But the Giants will win the division now that they beat Dallas if Washington loses. 

If the Eagles beat Washington, then the winner of this afternoon’s Cowboys-Giants game will claim the NFC East crown.

Washington is the only team in the division that controls its own fate. If they beat the Eagles, they will win the East.

The Cowboys played without linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and right guard Zack Martin— both are inactive today. 

Also inactive: Ben DiNucci, Rashard Robinson, Sewo Olonilua, Bradlee Anae.

See below for live updates of the game:

First Quarter

With a little less than 12 minutes left in the quarter, the Giants scored a touchdown on their opening drive as wide receiver Sterling Shepard brought the ball into the end zone, but the kick went wide on the extra point. 

The Giants lead with 6 points on the board.

Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked with around 9 minutes left in the quarter, ending the Cowboys' drive.

Dallas cornerback Chidobe Awuzie then created a turnover when the Giants fumbled with 7 minutes left in the quarter to gain possession.  

That's 11 turnovers the Dallas defense has created in the past 3 games, with just 11 total in the season's first 12 games.

Dallas was able to create a 3-point field goal off the turnover, bringing the score to 3-6.

Second Quarter

Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory received a personal foul, pushing the Giants forward 15 yards. It's the second such personal foul against Dallas in the game after cornerback Jourdan Lewis headbutted a Giants player.

Multiple skirmishes have broken out throughout the high-stakes game between the teams as well. 

Sterling Shepard then scored a second touchdown for the Giants, and this time the extra point was good, bringing the score 3-13 for the Giants with about 6:45 left in the second quarter.

Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein brought the score to 6-13 with a perfect field goal kick with 2 minutes left in the half. 

And then with 45 seconds left, Giants wide receiver Dante Pettis scored a touchdown. The extra point was good, so the score is now up to 20 points for the Giants, while the Cowboys trail with 6.

But then Zuerlein was able to attempt a 57-yard field goal with 4 seconds left to go in the half. And the kick was good indeed, bringing the Cowboys up to 9 points to end the half.

Third Quarter

Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson was able to intercept a pass from Giants quarterback Daniel Jones with a little more than 13 minutes left in the quarter, leading to another turnover for Dallas.

While the Cowboys defense has created two turnovers now this game, the offense has been unable to make much of them, with no touchdowns yet on the board.

But then they turned it into a solid drive that ended as running back Zeke Elliot got the first touchdown of the game. The extra point brought the difference between the two teams to four points with a little less than 9 minutes remaining in the quarter. The Cowboys are now 16-20 against the Giants.

Fourth Quarter

The Cowboys started off the quarter with another good field goal from Zuerlein, bringing the score to 20-19 New York.

New York answered with a field goal of its own, making the score 23-19 New York.

Dallas went for it on 4th and 1, and got it. 

Dalton is flung back on a sack for a nine-yeard loss on first down, then Lamb dropped a pass on second down.

Dalton threw an interception on third down. New York keeps the ball with a little more than a minute left.

New York fumbled but it was ruled a New York recovery after a booth review from officials. The Giants hold onto the ball to end the game. They run the clock out.

New York wins, 23-19.

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