EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – First, the black cat ran on the field.
Then the Dallas Cowboys scampered past the New York Giants.
Dak Prescott shook off an interception on his first pass and threw for three touchdowns, and the Cowboys turned three Daniel Jones turnovers into 13 points on their way to a 37-18 win over the Giants in a Monday night game that was briefly delayed in the second quarter by an elusive feline.
“Things weren’t good up to that point,” Prescott said about the game before the cat appeared. “It could only get better from there. I definitely thought about that. I guess we’ll start rolling now that the black cat’s come in bad for the Giants. It was fun. First time I’ve seen an animal run on the field that I’ve been a part of.”
Ezekiel Elliott ran for a season-high 139 yards as Dallas (5-3) beat New York (2-7) for the sixth straight time. DeMarcus Lawrence had one of the Cowboys’ five sacks.
Prescott hit Blake Jarwin for a much-needed 42-yard touchdown late in the second quarter. He added a 15-yarder to Michael Gallup and a 45-yarder to Amari Cooper in the fourth.
Brett Maher kicked three field goals, including a 52-yarder in the waning seconds of the first half that gave Dallas the lead for good after falling behind 12-3 in the second quarter. Jourdan Lewis scored on a 63-yard fumble return in the final seconds.
The win gave the Cowboys a half-game lead over Philadelphia (5-4) in the NFC East and improved their record in the division to 4-0, including a win over the Eagles.
Daniel Jones threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Cody Latimer for fading New York. Aldrick Rosas hit four field goals, but he also missed an extra point attempt that was important in sending New York to its fifth straight loss.
“You can’t lose the turnover battle and expect to win any game,” Giants defensive back Michael Thomas said. “We’re making young mistakes, If we stop them we’ll start playing winning football. It’s not just the offense, it’s defense and special teams, too. It’s two or three plays a game where we hand the other team points.”
Rosas’ 25-yarder gave New York a 12-3 lead with 2:50 left, but Dallas scored 10 points in the final 52 seconds of the half to take a 13-12 lead.
Jarwin, who has scored five of his six career touchdowns against the Giants, rambled most of the 42 yards on the score to get the Cowboys within 12-10 with 52 seconds remaining in the half.
Xavier Woods intercepted a third-down pass by Jones on the ensuing series and returned it to the New York 38, setting up Maher’s go-ahead field goal on the final play.
The teams exchanged field goals in the third quarter, with a Jones fumble forced by Woods setting up Dallas. Rosas answered for the Giants.
The chippy fourth quarter belonged to the Cowboys and Prescott, who finished 22 of 35 for 257 yards. He has thrown for 12 TDs against New York in the last four games.
Jones finished 26 of 41 for 210 yards, including a 65-yard play by Saquon Barkley, his longest reception.
“I just thought we started to play the way we wanted to play,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of his team’s slow start coming off a bye week.
Winslow Jr. pleads guilty
In Vista, California, former NFL player Kellen Winslow Jr. pleaded guilty Monday to raping an unconscious teen in 2003 and to sexual battery involving a 54-year-old hitchhiker in a deal that spared him the possibility of life in prison.
Winslow initially hesitated and seemed to agonize over his decision.
“I’m sorry. I’m just not thinking very clearly,” Winslow told the judge at one point.
He asked the judge for more time before he finally entered the guilty pleas moments before he was about to be retried on six felonies including kidnapping, sodomy, forced oral copulation and two charges of rape in San Diego County Superior Court that could have sent him to prison for life if he was convicted.
In exchange for his plea, the court agreed to sentence him to between 12 and 18 years in prison for the two charges and dismiss the others.
In June, a jury found him guilty of raping a homeless woman in Encinitas, north of San Diego. Jurors also convicted him of two misdemeanors —indecent exposure and a lewd act in public — involving two other women.
But that jury failed to agree on other charges, including the alleged rape of the hitchhiker and the rape of the unconscious 17-year-old girl in 2003 when he was 19. Under the plea deal, the attack on the hitchhiker was reduced to sexual battery.
The 36-year-old former tight end — at one point one of the highest-paid in the NFL — had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5