The 5 most memorable games of the legendary Giants-Cowboys rivalry

One thing we all know for sure about NFC East: These teams all hate each other. The Giants and Cowboys are no exception.

As Big Blue prepares to take on the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, let’s take a walk down memory lane with the five most memorable matchups between these divisional rivals.

1993 – The Emmitt Smith Game

The first game on our list is one that didn’t go the Giants route. With the NFC East title at stake, legendary Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith had a game that would become a highlight of his Hall of Fame career. In the second quarter, after Smith had already amassed 151 yards of offense, the running back severed his shoulder after a 46-yard rush when he was tackled by Greg Jackson.

Instead of getting out, Smith simply had an extra pad placed on his shoulder and stayed in the game. Despite the painful injury, Jimmy Johnson didn’t change the game plan one bit. Smith carried the ball on and was driven into the ground by the Giants defense.

To make things even harder for Smith, the game went into overtime when the Giants tied it at 13-all. Emmitt Smith carried the ball nine times in the 10-game overtime that put the Cowboys in position to hit the game-winning field goal. Smith landed on 42 touches for 229 total yards. The game helped Smith win another quick title and MVP for the season. It also secured the number 1 pick for the Cowboys in their eventual Super Bowl run.

2005 – Eli Manning scores his first career win

Eli Manning started his rookie season 0-6 after replacing Kurt Warner in the 2004 season. In the season finale against the Dallas Cowboys, we first saw the player who would become Eli Manning. Early in the fourth quarter of that game, the Cowboys were up 16-7, with Manning having a touchdown and an interception en route to the fourth quarter.

From that moment on, Eli Manning would do what he has done so well throughout his career. In the first game of the fourth quarter, Manning hit David Tyree for a 15-yard touchdown pass to put the Giants in a one-score game 16-14. After a quick sack fumble on Vinny Testaverde courtesy of Osi Umenyiora, the Giants were set up in the red zone. From there, Eli Manning was able to connect with Tiki Barber on a short pass to give the Giants a 21-16 with just over 12 minutes in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys responded with a long drive that was dominated by Julius Jones and Jason Witten and lasted over 10 minutes. A touchdown run from Julius Jones and a two-point conversion from Witten gave the Cowboys a 24-21 lead with just 1:52 left.

With just one time-out left and less than two minutes to play, it would give Eli Manning a shot at his comeback win. A 23-yard pass play with an additional roughing the passer got the Giants up just outside the red zone. From there, Tiki Barber took over to put the ball in the end zone to give the Giants a 28-24 lead with just 16 seconds left. From there, the Giants won, giving Eli Manning not only his first career win but also his first career comeback win.

2007 – Giants win Divisional Round

This game would be the first and only time the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys would meet in the playoffs. The Giants went into the playoffs No. 5 and picked up a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Dallas Cowboys were the No. 1 in the NFC and had defeated the Giants during the regular season.

The Giants made an early statement to the Cowboys that they would not be intimidated into going up against the team that swept them. Eli Manning and Amani Toomer connected on the first drive with a deep 52-yard touchdown pass to give the Giants a 7-0 lead. The Cowboys tried to take control in the second quarter after a couple of touchdowns from Terrell Owens and Marion Barber to give the Cowboys a 14-7 lead with just 53 seconds left at halftime. Eli Manning took just 46 seconds to react and hit Toomer for another touchdown pass after driving down the field to end the game before halftime.

Attacks slowed in the second half as the defensive adjustments were made. After the Cowboys took a 17-14 lead after a 14-game opener, the Giants had to react again. After trading three and outs, the Giants orchestrated a shot on goal that was capped by a touchdown run by Brandon Jacobs at the goal line to give the Giants the 21-17 lead. After both offenses faltered for most of the fourth quarter, the Cowboys began to look for a potential game win in the fourth quarter. With 26 seconds to play before the Giants ’23, the defense reacted. After a few incompletions, RW McQuarters intercepted Tony Romo in the end zone to seal an upset victory for the Giants. Defeating division rivals in Dallas was a memorable part of the Super Bowl run.

2011 – The Giants’ victory sparks the second Super Bowl heat

Unlike the 2007 Divisional Round game, the 2011 regular season game had no attack slowdown. The Giants staggered after a 6-2 start to the season, losing four straight games and desperately needing a win to put the ship back on track and keep their playoff hopes alive. Defense got the first points on the board when Jason Pierre Paul Tony Romo dropped to the safety in the end zone. The Giants and Cowboys traded goals for the remainder of the half, and the Cowboys went into halftime with a 17-15 lead.

In the second half, the Giants and the Cowboys traded goals again, but it was the Giants who took the 22-20 lead in the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter, which saw everything on the line, provided fans with one of the most memorable quarters in the history of the rivalry. Tony Romo connected with Miles Austin to put the Cowboys ahead early in the fourth quarter. As the Giants drove, the Cowboys’ defense strengthened and Sean Lee got away with an interception to ensure the Giants got away with no points. After that, it wasn’t long before the Cowboys made the Giants pay. A 50-yard drive from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant gave the Cowboys a 34-22 lead with just 5:41 left in the game.

With the fourth quarter halfway on the books and two turnovers down, Eli Manning needed to deliver on offense for the Giants to keep the season from slipping. The offense went straight to work, delivering an eight-play touchdown drive to Jake Ballard that was topped by an Eli Manning touchdown pass to take the Giants to five.

After a quick three-and-out by the Cowboys, the Giants got the ball back with 2:12 in the game. The connection between Eli Manning and Jake Ballard once again proved fruitful, with two big games between them sparking a Brandon Jacobs touchdown. A successful two-point conversion gave the Giants a 37-34 lead. The Cowboys would not walk quietly and drive within range of the field goal in 40 seconds. Jason Pierre Paul made it big again, blocking the possible field goal and giving the Giants the win they so desperately needed that started their Super Bowl run.

2014 – The Catch

Unfortunately, this game did not go in the direction of the Giants. One thing it has delivered, however, is the one catch that all catches have been compared to since. In the first game of the second quarter, Eli Manning faked the handoff and then fired a shot low down on the right side of the field. From there, Odell Beckham Jr. made the sportiest catch anyone had ever seen.

The catch gave the Giants a 14-3 lead that eventually turned into a 21-10 lead at halftime. Unfortunately for the Giants, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant stole the show, orchestrating two touchdown drives, including a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys eventually defeated the Giants 31-28.

Now we’ll see if this season’s Thanksgiving match will be one for the history books.

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