The New York Giants have completed the season sweep of the Dallas Cowboys with a 10-7 home victory. Who were the Players of the Game?
Dec 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) scores the game winning TD in the second half against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
On Sunday, December 11, the New York Giants hosted the Dallas Cowboys in the biggest game of the year. In the second meeting of the season between two of the NFL’s most bitter rivals, the Giants and Cowboys fought for more than just pride and bragging rights.
Dallas had a chance to clinch the NFC East, while New York was tasked with maintaining a steady pace after fellow wild card hopefuls won crucial games in Week 14.
With the need for victory presenting itself, Ben McAdoo and the Giants stepped up. It was a cold and physical game at MetLife Stadium, and New York ultimately prevailed by an ugly score of 10-7.
Fortunately, the NFL doesn’t have a BCS system where style points matter; all teams need in the pursuit of the playoffs are wins and losses.
As a result of the victory over the Cowboys, the Giants are now 9-4—the best record amongst potential wild card teams. Work still needs to be done to secure a postseason appearance, but New York pulled to within 2.0 games of Dallas in the NFC East.
The question is: who stepped up for the New York Giants during the second meeting of the 2016 NFL regular season with the Dallas Cowboys?
Dec 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) goes over Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Andrew Gachkar (52) in the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Offensive Player of the Game: Odell Beckham Jr.
The New York Giants have one of the most dynamic playmakers in NFL history in wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. One could argue against that point and call it hyperbolic, but his production through three seasons is on par with that of the best receivers of all-time.
On a night where he struggled with drops, Beckham proved how explosive he can be when he made one of the biggest plays of the season to give the Giants their first lead of the game.
The Odell Beckham slant-to-the-house play just works so damn often.
Beckham finished with four receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown. Those are excellent numbers in the sense that he averaged 23.5 yards per reception and put points on the board, but the four catches and two drops could be perceived as underwhelming.
The reason Beckham’s two drops are ignored in favor of his one touchdown, however, is because the Giants didn’t score another touchdown before or after his.
Manning delivered the ball to Beckham on a slant route and the former LSU Tiger star did the leg work for a 61-yard touchdown. It was an unbelievable display of the speed Beckham possesses and just how quickly he can create separation.
When a team scores one touchdown and wins, it’s hard not to praise the player responsible for the points.
Dec 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) can’t catch a pass on fourth down with coverage by New York Giants corner back Janoris Jenkins (20) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. The call on the field was a first down catch and was overturned following a review. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Co-Defensive Player of the Game: Janoris Jenkins
Jerry Reese and the New York Giants were ridiculed for signing Janoris Jenkins to a five-year contract worth $62.5 million. Against the Dallas Cowboys, Jenkins silenced his critics and legitimately shut Dez Bryant down.
If you disagree that this performance silenced his critics, it’s likely because you believe they should’ve stopped talking long ago.
Janoris Jenkins is the only CB this year with 3+ INTs, 9+ PDs and less than 500 yards allowed.
The fact that Jenkins held Bryant to one reception for 10 yards is reason enough to honor him with this distinction. Throw in the fact that Jenkins pulled down an interception and forceda fumble, and it’s clear that he had an outstanding performance.
What made Jenkins’ performance so spectacular, however, is the fact that Bryant only had one receptions on nine targets.
Prescott was looking and throwing Bryant’s way, but Jenkins wouldn’t let him get his hands around the ball. Though social media will have a field day with, “He dropped it,” memes, Jenkins actually made brilliant plays on the throws that Bryant had a chance to pull in.
Future Hall of Fame cornerback Charles Woodson kept it simple:
Janoris Jenkins player of the game!!Great cornerback play
Dec 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive end Romeo Okwara (78) sacks Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) in the 1st half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Co-Defensive Player of the Game: Romeo Okwara
The New York Giants were given one week to find a way to replace the presence and production of star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. It’s hard to say New York has replaced him, but it came as close as possible to doing so against the Dallas Cowboys.
With the Giants in need of a defensive lineman to step up and make their presence felt, Romeo Okwara was dominant.
"You can't really replace JPP's caliber, so I just went out and did my job." – Romeo Okwara #DALvsNYG
Statistically, Okwara stepped up with eight tackles, 1.0 sack, one tackle for loss, a pass deflection, and three resonating hits on Dak Prescott. Beyond the numbers, Okwara kept Dallas’ vaunted offensive line busy by applying constant pressure and fighting like his career depended on it.
Okwara earned a grade of 80.3 from Pro Football Focus. That may have been No. 5 amongst New York’s defensive players, but it doesn’t change the fact he deserves a game ball.
Okwara was tasked with stepping in and replacing the best pass-rusher on the Giants’ roster. Olivier Vernon was outstanding against the Cowboys, but the pressure Okwara applied from the other side is why Prescott was so flustered in the pocket.
This may have been a breakout performance from an undrafted free agent with as much upside as any player on New York’s defensive line.
Sep 11, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants punter Brad Wing (9) punts the ball in the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. New York won 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Special Teams Player of the Game: Brad Wing
No player’s impact is more commonly overlooked on a football team than that of a punter. Despite the fact that the punter plays a direct role in where the opposition begins their possessions, they’re often written off as virtual non-factors.
During the New York Giants’ 10-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, punter Brad Wing reminded fans of just how important it can be to have a great punter.
Wing punted the ball nine times for a 389 yards—a deceivingly pedestrian average of 43.2 yards per punt. The Giants consistently got past the 50-yard line, but couldn’t score, which thus put Wing in the unenvious position of having to punt with a short field.
Wing was up to the task, landing five punts within the 20-yard line and two within the five-yard line, including a clutch punt that set up the Cowboys’ final possession.
Any time the opponent is working from their own three-yard line, the punter deserves a round of applause. The fact that Wing pinned Dallas that deep in its territory on two separate occasions, including the final drive, is punting wizardry.
Punters may never get the respect they deserve for their impact on the game, but Wing played a major role in limiting Dallas’ offensive potential.