It wasn’t pretty, in fact it was rather ugly. But the New York Giants fought their way to a 20-19 win at the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon in a game they seemingly tried to find ways to lose.

With 6:13 left in the game and the Giants down 19-13, quarterback Eli Manning placed a pass through a tight window for a three-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz. The 20-19 lead was the first for the Giants since halftime.

The Giants played lackluster football up until the fourth quarter and their revamped defense looked decidedly anemic for much of that time, giving up four scoring drives. A $200 million overhaul was supposed to make the league’s worst defense a season ago significantly better.

Instead they allowed a rookie quarterback to orchestrate the flow of the game and gave him plenty of time in the pocket until they finally generated a pass rush in the fourth quarter.

At the end of the game, the Cowboys were driving and nearly were in field goal range but inexplicably Terrance Williams fought for more yards rather than step out of bounds and stop the clock to set-up a long field goal try. Time would run out before Dallas could get their next play off.

Cruz is back

Cruz hasn’t had an NFL reception since the mid-point of the 2014 season but the Giants wide receiver is back and showed flashes of being the star of old. His fourth quarter touchdown put the Giants up 20-19, all part of an afternoon where he had four catches for 34 yards. Not surprisingly he looked a bit rusty at times as Cruz only played in the fourth preseason game as he was limited throughout training camp; if he can come back and be effective then the Giants offense can be a top unit.

Shepard is Sterling

He had a touchdown grab right before halftime to give the Giants a 13-9 lead and finished with three catches for 43 yards. But also impressive was his ability to block down the field. He was culpable on Eli Manning’s third quarter interception where he cut short his route but his NFL debut was promising. Shepard also had a big fourth quarter catch, a 20-yard grab on what would be the go-ahead drive.  

Didn’t look like a rookie

In his first NFL game, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott didn’t look like a rookie. The Mississippi State product, a fourth round pick of Dallas, played smart and efficient football for much of the game. His playbook was clearly limited and the Cowboys relied heavily on Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris carrying the football, but Prescott looks like he has the intrinsics to be the Cowboys long-term starting quarterback. He failed in the fourth quarter to lead the Cowboys on a late-game drive but he was quietly effective. The Cowboys held the ball for 36:31 of the game as Prescott finished 25-for-44 for 227 yards.