At this point, the Dallas Cowboys can’t worry about style points. They just need to cross their fingers and stack wins together.
Or at least, count on the voodoo of a black cat.
That certainly proved to be the case in Monday’s 37-18 victory against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
It was their second straight win following a three-game losing streak and has the Cowboys (5-3) firmly atop the NFC East with a 4-0 mark in the division.
The Giants dropped to 2-7.
This is what was supposed to happen.
It’s what should have happened the last time the Cowboys came to MetLife, when they suffered a still-unforgivable 24-22 loss to the lowly New York Jets.
It’s the Jets’ only win of the season. They have been outscored 88-33 and are 0-3 since beating Dallas on Oct. 13.
Early on, the Cowboys appeared to be reprising that fraudulent effort. They certainly didn’t look like they had any of the momentum they built during their 37-10 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles before the bye.
Trailing 9-3 in the second quarter — and seemingly listless as well as mistake-prone, thanks an interception by quarterback Dak Prescott and a fumble by receiver Randall Cobb — the Cowboys awakened after play stopped when a black cat ran on the field.
The Cowboys outscored the Giants 34-9 the rest of the way.
Prescott passed for 257 yards and tossed three touchdowns, including a 44-yarder to Amari Cooper with 8:05 left in the fourth quarter to blow the game open.
Cornerback Jourdan Lewis added a 63-yard fumble return for a touchdown with 22 seconds left of what became a sloppy and chippy game with a number of personal foul flags on the Cowboys.
Credit a Cowboys defense that recorded five sacks, forced three turnovers and held the Giants to field goals on drives to the 3, 7 and 11.
Safety Xavier Woods had an interception and a forced fumble. Defensive end Dorance Armstrong had the late sack and forced fumble that led to the Lewis touchdown.
Newly acquired defensive tackle Michael Bennett contributed to the effort with a sack, three tackles, two tackles for losses and two quarterback hits.
But it’s Cooper who remains the team’s most indispensable player since coming over in a bye-week trade from the Oakland Raiders last season.
The offense is just not the same when Cooper is not on the field and not making big plays. He has seven touchdowns of 20 yards or more since he joined the Cowboys, tied for the most in the league with Kansas City Chiefs speedster Tyreek Hill.
Cooper’s effort was seemingly miraculous after he left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury and was seen limping badly on the sideline. He had four catches for 80 yards and a touchdown.
But he was on the field when the Cowboys scored 10 points in the final 1:05 of the second quarter, a 42-yard pass to tight end Blake Jarwin and a 52-yard field goal from Brett Maher at time expired to take a 13-12 halftime lead.
Prescott also tossed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Michael Gallup early in the fourth quarter to make the score 23-15.
But when the Giants cut the lead to 23-18 and were seemingly primed to get the ball back, it was Cooper who drew a 26-yard pass interference penalty on Deandre Baker on third-and-6 from the 15.
A few plays later, Cooper struck again. On third-and-12, Prescott found him running across the middle of the field, and then he won a foot race, bad knee and all, to the end zone.
Cooper’s health over the next six days is important.
His absence after just four plays is the biggest reason the Cowboys lost to the Jets.
The Cowboys face the Minnesota Vikings (6-3) Sunday night at AT&T Stadium to begin a season-defining stretch over the next month, which includes games at the Detroit Lions, at the New England Patriots and at home against the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving Day before playing at the Chicago Bears seven days later.