EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Giants fans began booing early in the third quarter of their team’s game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.
It was an impressive show of restraint. Booing in the first quarter would have been understandable. The Giants’ offense certainly deserved it. Eli Manning had fumbled twice. Odell Beckham Jr. had dropped two crucial passes.
And then, as often happens, Beckham changed the course of the game with a flash of his signature, unmatched speed. The Giants were trailing by 4 points late in the third quarter when Beckham caught a routine, short slant pass, evaded four Cowboys defenders and dashed virtually untouched into the end zone for a 61-yard touchdown.
The somnolent Giants offense had awakened. The stout Giants defense had momentum to feed off. And the home crowd was on its feet cheering for the rest of a stirring 10-7 Giants victory.
For the Cowboys (11-2), the loss ended their 11-game win streak. The Giants (9-4) are the only team to have beaten Dallas, having also won the season opener on Sept. 11.
The victory was well timed for the Giants, as their postseason prospects had taken a downturn earlier in the day when nearly every other N.F.C. playoff contender won its game. Minnesota, Washington, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Detroit and Green Bay all improved their postseason candidacies with victories.
The Cowboys had two chances to tie the game in the final minute, but Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant fumbled after a 10-yard reception near the Cowboys’ 35-yard line. Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins knocked the football out of Bryant’s grasp, and safety Landon Collins recovered the fumble with 2 minutes 13 seconds remaining.
Dallas got the ball again at its own 2-yard line with 1:06 left, but Prescott threw four incomplete passes.
On their second drive of the third quarter, the Giants scored their first points as the inside running of the rookie running back Paul Perkins and a crucial fourth-down catch by the rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard set up a 39-yard field goal by Robbie Gould.
That cut Dallas’s lead to 7-3.
On the ensuing drive, a 13-yard run by Ezekiel Elliott and an 18-yard Cole Beasley reception had Dallas in Giants territory until Giants safety Leon Hall intercepted Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott. Hall had been inserted into the game during the first quarter after the Giants’ starting free safety, Andrew Adams, apparently missed an assignment and gave up the Cowboys’ first touchdown.
Beckham scored two plays later, catching the quick pass from Manning at the Giants’ 46-yard line and cutting across the field. When he received the football, three Dallas players were within a couple of yards of him, and a fourth was closing with a good angle for a tackle. But as he has done before, Beckham simply out-sprinted each defender to the corner of the end zone.