EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Quarterback Dak Prescott saved the biggest of his four touchdowns for last when he connected with slot receiver Cole Beasley on a 32-yard touchdown pass with 1:12 left to give the Dallas Cowboys a 36-35 win over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
Prescott, who played the entire game despite the Cowboys being locked in to the fourth playoff seed, finished his day 27-of-44 for 387 yards, with the Cowboys' passing game needing to take center stage with starting running back Ezekiel Elliott a healthy scratch ahead of the start of the postseason next week.
The game started off rather sluggish, as both sides failed to capitalize on opportunities in the first quarter.
For the Giants, whose first-quarter drives were marred by pre-snap penalties, their opening drive had all kinds of promise as they picked up chunk plays of 24 and 26 yards on a pass by Eli Manning and a run by Saquon Barkley.
But on third-and-4 with the ball on the Cowboys' 6-yard line, Manning made a poor read on a pass attempt to Sterling Shepard, the ball being picked off by Cowboys cornerback Chidobe Awuzie.
The Cowboys, who came up empty on their first drive of the game, had a chance to break the scoreless tie on their second drive, a drive that began thanks to a sack and forced fumble by defensive end Demarcus Lawrence.
Cowboys defensive tackle Antwaun Woods came down with the loose ball to set up a potential scoring drive, but after getting the ball down to the Giants' 16-yard line, Prescott and company came up empty when Brett Maher's 34-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.
The Cowboys finally broke the scoreless deadlock on Prescott's 13-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open tight end Blake Jarwin who cleanly beat Giants linebacker Nate Stupar over the middle for the score on a third-and-12.
Prescott and Jarwin made it 14-0 with 1:50 left before the half as the tight end again was wide open over the middle to haul in a 19-yard touchdown catch on a third-and-9.
The Giants sliced the Cowboys' lead just before the half on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Manning to receiver Cody Latimer, who made a gorgeous one-handed catch and managed to keep both feet inbounds.
After shutting out the Cowboys on their opening drive of the third quarter, the Giants got a 48-yard field goal from Pro Bowl kicker Aldrick Rosas to cap an 8-play, 15-yard scoring drive that took 4:10 off the clock and make it a 14-10 score.
The Cowboys increased their lead on Prescott's third touchdown pass to Jarwin on a play in which the Giants had chased Prescott out of the pocket.
Jarwin, whose third score went for 39 yards, had free access to the end zone given a half-hearted tackle attempt by Giants free safety Curtis Riley, the catch making it a 21-10 contest.
The Giants, refusing to quit, made it a three-point game with time ticking down in the third quarter. Barkley broke free for a 68-yard run, which made him the third rookie in NFL history to accumulate 2,000 all-purpose yards, to set up a first-and-10 at the Cowboys' 15-yard line.
Three plays later, Manning found tight end Evan Engram in the end zone and the Giants -- after drawing a pass interference penalty on the 2-point conversion -- converted that score to make it 21-18 with 1:53 left in the third quarter.
With the Giants' offense starting to click in the second half, they were able to take the lead for the first time in the game to cap an eight-play, 81-yard drive. The score, a 2-yard rush by Wayne Gallman to make it 25-21 with 10:38 left in the contest, was set up by a dart thrown by Manning to Engram for 51 yards on third-and-5.
The Giants lost the lead momentarily when Rod Smith scored on a 1-yard touchdown run on the Cowboys' ensuing drive. But Barkley got the lead right back with a 2-yard score.
After the Giants got a 38-yard field goal to increase their lead, the Cowboys came back in spectacular fashion, with Prescott connecting with slot receiver Cole Beasley on a 32-yard touchdown pass followed by a successful 2-point conversion to steal the win and send the Giants to a 5-11 record for the year.
With his first pass completion of the game, QB Eli Manning passed 4,000 passing yards for the seventh time in his career. ... RB Saquon Barkley's first carry, a 26-yard rush, put him over 1,200 rushing yards for the year. Barkley also broke Reggie Bush's season record for most receptions (88) by a rookie running back, set in 2006. ... Backup QB Kyle Lauletta saw a first-quarter snap at wide receiver. Lauletta and Alex Tanney were both active for this game with five of the seven Giants inactive list members being on that list due to injuries. ... Giants CB Grant Haley was ruled out of the game in the third quarter with a concussion. ... Rookie DT B.J. Hill finished with 5.5 sacks for the season, which set a new franchise record for the most sacks by a rookie defender since sacks became an official league statistic in 1982.