ARLINGTON, Texas — The frustration of losing their quarterback, losing their running back, losing their best receiver and losing to the Cowboys was all starting to bubble up for the Giants. In the fourth quarter, there were several times when plays ended with extra shoves and trash-talking. There even was one that ended with a punch thrown and an ejection.
That’s when Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott addressed his teammates. He told them to keep their cool and composure. He told them not to commit "bum-headed" penalties that would cost them yardage. And he gave them advice on how to handle the Giants’ anger.
"Tell them to look at the scoreboard," he said, "and laugh at them."
Almost exactly one year after Prescott left that very field in tears with an ugly fractured ankle, he left it on Sunday chuckling at the Giants.
That was the kind of demoralizing, humiliating, spirit-crushing game Sunday’s 44-20 loss at AT&T Stadium turned out to be. The Giants were the butt of a bad joke, taunted by archrivals who thrashed them so thoroughly that they had virtually nothing to come back with.
Whether it was Ezekiel Elliott high-stepping into the end zone or Anthony Brown capping the game with a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown, the Cowboys took every opportunity they had to mock the Giants.
Insults and injuries abounded.
Any chance the Giants had of competing in the game had been erased by the rash of injuries that befell them, leaving them with a mostly second-string offense that their replacement quarterback, Mike Glennon, said was reminiscent of the crew that mopped up in preseason games.
Saquon Barkley, with his left ankle swollen like a softball, was carted off. Initial X-rays were negative, but he will undergo further tests on Monday.
Daniel Jones, unable to stand or walk straight after suffering a concussion while trying to run for a touchdown, was carted off. He was able to speak after the game, Joe Judge said, but might be sidelined for a while.
And Kenny Golladay, who at least was able to walk off under his own power at halftime but did not return, left with a knee injury suffered during a play in which he got tangled up with cornerback Trevon Diggs.
"It was crazy," Golladay said of looking around at all of the injured Giants playmakers at one point in the second half, including Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, who were ruled out with hamstring injuries earlier in the week. Together they would have made for a decent fantasy football team. Instead, they were part of the Giants’ nightmare situation.
Backup running back Devontae Booker, who scored two touchdowns, said he’d been in plenty of games in which the starting quarterback was injured. Or the starting running back. Or the most decorated receiver. But all of them? Within the same hour?
"I was like, ‘Damn!’ " he said of the string of bad luck.
The loss dropped the Giants to three games behind the first-place Cowboys in the NFC East standings with an 0-2 record in the division, alone in last place. That would be a nearly insurmountable position to overcome with a fully healthy roster. With the backups the Giants will be employing for their next stretch of games, it very well may be an impossibility.
Their lone offensive playmaker for most of the game was Kadarius Toney, and even he had to miss a few snaps with an ankle injury before being ejected for throwing that punch that only made the Cowboys laugh harder.
"If you guys want to be chippy and have stupid penalties called on you, OK," Dallas linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said he told the Giants.
When Brown intercepted Glennon’s pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown with 1:28 remaining, the belly laughing really began.
With the Giants down 27-13 early in the fourth quarter, they turned to Toney in their last gasp to keep up with Dallas.
On third-and-goal from the 9, the Giants ran a direct snap to Toney and he squirmed his way to the 2. On fourth-and-goal, Glennon tried to throw it to Toney in the end zone. It appeared he was tackled before the pass reached him, but no flag was thrown. The Giants turned it over on downs with 12:22 left.
Dallas then drove 98 yards in nine plays to go up 34-13. On the next series, after Toney caught a pass and a scuffle ensued, Toney threw that punch after Damontae Kazee shoved Evan Engram. There were offsetting penalties on the play, but only Toney was sent packing.
Glennon threw a 3-yard screen to Booker for a touchdown that made it 34-20 with 3:17 left. It was the second TD of the game for Booker, who had scored on a 1-yard run earlier in the game. That first Booker touchdown had tied the score at 10, but even that, which should have been an encouraging play at the time, came under a pall.
It was the snap after Jones was carted off.