For Odell Beckham and the New York Giants, Sunday night’s game was the “wake-up call” heard ‘round the NFL.
By knocking off the Cowboys for the second time this season, making them the only team to figure out Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and company, the 9-4 Giants stated their case at cold and slippery MetLife Stadium that they could be a team to be reckoned with when the postseason gets underway next month.
With a defense that swarmed all over Prescott and finally made him look like a rookie, the Giants’ come-front-behind 10-7 win will likely open a lot of eyes around the league.
Prescott finished with 165 passing yards and was intercepted twice. Dallas was one of 15 on thid downs.
Beckham, who caught a simple slant over the middle late in the third quarter and turned it into the 61-yard game-winner, just wishes the offense would help the defense more.
“We have a championship defense that deserves a lot of compliments,” said Beckham, who has caught 10 touchdowns of 50 or more yards in his brief career and a franchise record 34 from Eli Manning, passing Plaxico Burress., “I wish we could figure out a way on offense to make things easier for them.
“We want them sitting back eating candy, knowing the game is under control, It’s been frustrating for us on offense. We knew we had to wake up at some point. This was an amazing atmosphere and we knew what was on the line.
“But our defense is what held us together."
Other than a late first-period breakdown, where the Giants defense bit en masse on a Prescott fake pitch to Elliott, allowing Terrance Williams to streak uncovered downfield for a 31-yard touchdown, the defense pretty much had its way.
While Elliott did manage 107 yards rushing on 24 carries, New York bottled up the ‘Boys, all night, who had miserable field position for the most part thanks to punter Brad Wing, who continually pinned them deep in their own territory.
The defense took it from there.
“We gave them a lot of different looks,” said linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who had one of three sacks on Prescott and four solo tackles. “We couldn’t let (Prescott) him sit back there and figure it out or he would pick us apart.
“I think we can be as great as we want to be. We had to step up tonight without JPP (injured Jason Pierre-Paul. We’re a tough,resilient group. Everyone came up with huge plays. A lot of those pressures were coverage sacks, because we did a great job on the back end.”
With Cole Beasley (four catches for 41 yards), Jason Witten (four for 26) and Dez Bryant (one for 10 with a fumble on his only catch), the Giants essentially shut down Prescott’s favorite weapons.
Still, for much of the night, it seemed like that early Williams touchdown might hold up, before the Giants got close enough for a 39-yard Robbie Gould field goal early in the third.
Then Manning connected with Beckham after Leon Hall’s interception.
“He’s a special player,” said Manning, who completed 17 of 28 passes for 193yards with one interception and two lost fumbles after being sacked. “When you hit him in stride, good things happen.”
While the Giants own the tiebreaker should they manage to make up two games in the final three, the more likely scenario would put them in the playoffs.
“We still have a long journey ahead,” said Manning, who’ll take on the 9-4 Detroit Lions next week then close with Philadelpha and Washington on the road. “We just have to make sure to take care of business.”
As wak-eup calls go, this one was certainly loud and clear.