Not all Madden sims are created equal. Indeed, when you assemble a roster of Cowboys greats featuring legends like Roger Staubach, Emmitt Smith and Deion Sanders (each sporting Hall-of-Fame busts in Canton), and you put them in the ring against their bitter rival, the Eli Manning and Lawrence Taylor-led New York Football Giants, expectations tend to be a bit higher. That’s a lot to live up to, but fortunately the two combatants were up to the task Saturday in our latest Madden 20 computer simulation.
The visiting Cowboys didn’t win in the most convincing fashion, needing a last-second field goal courtesy of veteran place-kicker Dan Bailey, to extinguish the Giants’ flame in a 23-20 nail-biter at MetLife Stadium. Bailey had himself a day in East Rutherford, converting each of his three field-goal tries including a 59-yard moon missile (we’re talking Steph Curry range), bettering his career-best by three yards. The 32-year-old’s go-ahead boot, facilitated plays earlier by Ezekiel Elliott’s 22-yard sideline grab, staked Dallas to a three-point advantage with 18 seconds remaining.
The Giants could have evened the score by attempting a 58-yard field goal on the final play of regulation, but went for the win instead, falling short when Manning’s last-ditch Hail Mary eluded Jeremy Shockey’s outstretched hands for an incompletion. Shooting for the end zone when a field goal would have done the trick was a puzzling call by head coach Pat Shurmur (decisions like this are the reason the real-life Shurmur lasted just two seasons in the Meadowlands), though perhaps he didn’t feel Lawrence Tynes (career-long of 53 yards) had the leg for it.
Saturday’s loss was a particularly painful one for the Giants, not only because it came at the hands of a hated division rival, but also because New York couldn’t get out of its own way, squandering countless opportunities to sink their NFC East sparring partner. Despite a pair of early takeaways including an interception of Staubach on his very first play from scrimmage (the stellar field position afforded by that miscue would be the impetus for Odell Beckham’s eight-yard, first-quarter touchdown), the G-Men couldn’t finish Dallas off, letting the Jason Garrett-coached Cowboys off the hook time and again.
Long-time Giants nemesis DeMarcus Ware stripped Beckham after a second-quarter catch, which fellow linebacker Sean Lee promptly scooped up for a 29-yard touchdown sprint. New York fell asleep at the wheel again when an untouched Emmitt Smith broke free for a 75-yard touchdown romp, giving the Cowboys their first lead at the two-minute warning.
Smith, who drew the starting nod over two-time NFL rushing champ Ezekiel Elliott, was otherwise held in check (combined 39 yards on his other 15 carries), but that momentary lapse would prove costly for the Giants, who let another opportunity go to waste late in the first half. Abysmal clock management was the culprit this time as Kid Rock doppelganger Jeremy Shockey risked it all on a check-down pass from Manning, lunging in pursuit of pay-dirt despite ample opportunity to stop the clock by stepping out of bounds. That would have set up a chip-shot field goal for Tynes, but instead Bryon Jones, privy to Shockey’s end-zone aspirations, dragged him down at the one as time expired.
In defeat, the Giants spoiled a gutsy performance from Manning, who starred with 352 yards on elite 39-of-53 passing (73.6 completion percentage). The game was heavily front-loaded with much of the game’s action including 37 of its 43 total points occurring before the halftime bell. Dallas was led by Elliott, who gobbled up six catches for 64 yards out of the Cowboys’ backfield. New York probably could have gotten more out of its ground game with Tiki Barber and Brandon Jacobs contributing an anemic 26 yards on 16 rushing attempts (1.6 yards per carry). If you missed any of the action or enjoyed our 1 PM ET livestream so much you want to watch the whole thing again, be our guest. The link is right here.