The Giants–Cowboys rivalry is a National Football League (NFL) rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. The beginning of this rivalry is difficult to trace, but is perhaps best defined by the first game the two teams ever played back in 1960, which resulted in a 31–31 tie. In the early 1960s the New York Giantswere beginning to wind down as an NFL powerhouse. After having been arguably the most dominant team in the Eastern Conference through the 1950s and early 1960s the Giants entered a period of poor play where they did not make the playoffs from 1964–81. While the Giants dominated the Cowboys in the first few years of the rivalry, the Cowboys picked up steam and took control from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, winning 17 of the 20 meetings between the 2 teams in the 1970s. In the 1980s however the Giants struck back, and the rivalry has been relatively even handed ever since with intermittent spurts of dominance (the Giants in the late 1980s and the Cowboys in the early 1990s). This is a unique rivalry in American sports in that no other Texas area team is in the same division as a New York area team, or has a consistent rivalry with one, most likely due to the relatively far geographical distance between the two regions (though during the 1960s, the New York Jets were division rivals with the Houston Oilers in the American Football League East Division).
Another important facet of this rivalry is Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry. Landry was one of the most fateful figures in the history of both franchises. Drafted by the Giants in 1947, it would be three more years before he actually played with them. He played multiple roles – defensive back, halfback, and quarterback – and in those roles he recorded one rushing touchdown, one passing touchdown, two touchdowns off fumble recoveries, and three touchdowns off INTs. He made one Pro Bowl as a player, in 1954, the same season he joined the Giants' coaching staff. After he retired as a player at the end of the 1955 season, he became the Giants' defensive coordinator inventing the 4-3 Defense, serving in that role through 1959. In 1960, he became head coach of the first-year Cowboys and in his 29 seasons went 35–17–2 against the Giants.
The very first meeting between the New York Giantsand Dallas Cowboys, on December 4, 1960 at Yankee Stadium, ended in a 31–31 tie. Eddie LeBaron threw three touchdowns for Dallas (two in the fourth quarter), while George Shaw and Lee Grosscup combined for three touchdown throws for the Giants. L. G. Dupree ran in one Dallas touchdown and caught two scores for the first non-loss of the Cowboys' history after opening their inaugural season with ten straight losses.
The Cowboys defeated the Giants20–13 on October 11, 1971, the first Monday Night Football meeting between the teams and the last NFL game at the Cotton Bowl.
On December 19, 1981, the Giants defeated the Cowboys13–10 in overtime on a frigid Saturday afternoon in Giants Stadium to clinch Big Blue's first playoff berth in 17 seasons. Joe Danelo kicked the winning field goal in overtime after missing a game-winning attempt earlier in sudden death.
In the final game of the 1993 season, with both teams at 11–4 and competing for the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs, Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith suffered a separated right shoulder in the first half, but continued to play in obvious pain, amassing 168 rushing yards, including 41 on the game-winning drive, as Dallas won 16–13 in overtime. Smith also locked up the NFL rushing title with his tough, gritty performance. After the game, sportscaster John Madden paid a visit to Smith in the locker room to congratulate him, the only time John Madden (as an announcer) would pay such a visit to a player, later writing "[It] was one of the toughest efforts I've ever seen by any football player in any game." The loss meant the Giants were the #4 seed, while the win earned the Dallas Cowboys the #1 seed (a bye and home field advantage in the NFC playoffs), giving Smith time to heal, and he would go on to lead the Cowboys to victory over the Bills as the MVP of Super Bowl XXVIII. Meanwhile, the Giants would defeat the Vikings 17-10 in the Wild Card round before falling to the San Francisco 49ers the following week.
The full bitterness of the rivalry played out on Monday Night Football on November 7, 1994 when the 7–1 Cowboys hosted the 3–5 Giants. After a scoreless first quarter, Alvin Harper's touchdown catch from Troy Aikman and a one-yard Emmett Smith rushing score left the New York Giants–Dallas Cowboys up 14–3. On the final play of the first half Aikman launched a deep bomb to Harper in the endzone; Harper was hammered in mid-air by Giants safety Tito Wooten and suffered a sprained left knee. Dallas Cowboys' receivers coach Hubbard Alexander then attacked Jarvis Williams of the New York Giants and Michael Irvin punched Williams with a helmet. As the brawl escalated Dallas Cowboys' safety James Washington grabbed a camera and monopod from a local photographer and brandished it like a sword, yelling for Giants players to take him on. Irvin was fined $12,000 and Washington $10,000 by the league. When order was finally restored the Cowboys routed the New York Giants on rushing touchdowns from Smith, Aikman, and Daryl Johnston en route to a 38–10 win.
In 2003, the teams met at Giants Stadium on Monday Night Football. The game marked former Giants coach Bill Parcells' first visit to Giants Stadium as head coach of the Cowboys. The Cowboys led 29–14 after three quarters, but they squandered the lead over the last 15 minutes, and found themselves down 32–29 with just 11 seconds to play. The Giants simply needed to kick off and play a "prevent" defense for 1 or 2 plays, but the kickoff went out of bounds, putting the Cowboys at their own 40 with no time elapsed, and Quincy Carter completed a deep pass to Antonio Bryant, who went out of bounds at the New York 34 to stop the clock with 4 seconds left. Billy Cundiff then converted a 52-yard field goal as time expired to send the game to overtime, and kicked a 25 yarder with 5:56 left in OT to win it for the Cowboys. Cundiff tied an NFL record with 7 field goals in the game, out of 8 total attempts.
In 2007, the Dallas Cowboys swept the New York Giants in the regular season (45–35 in Dallas & 31–20 in NYC) winning the NFC East with a record of 13–3 and No. 1 Seed in the NFC, but in the playoffs, the No. 5 New York Giants (10–6) came to Texas Stadium and stunned the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys 21–17 en route to winning Super Bowl XLII. Eli Manning scored his second-straight playoff win while Tony Romo suffered his second-straight playoff loss.
Amid several weeks of off-field acrimony involving Terrell Owens, Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Marion Barber, and owner Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys on December 14, 2008 shut down the New York Giantsin New York's final trip to Texas Stadium (and first since the 2007 playoffs), 20–8. Owens and Witten combined for eight catches for 82 yards while Patrick Crayton and Deon Anderson had two receiving scores. Romo completed 20 of 30 throws for 244 yards despite being sacked four times (once for a Giants safety) and injuring his back in the process. The Cowboys sacked Giants quarterback Eli Manning eight times and limited him to only 191 passing yards and two INTs snatched by Terence Newman.
On September 20, 2009, Lawrence Tynes made a 37-yard field goal as the game clock expired to give the New York Giants a 33–31 victory and spoil the opening of the new Cowboys Stadium, with a crowd of a record-breaking 105,121 people. After the game, Giants quarterback Eli Manning signed the wall of the visiting locker room, and wrote "'33–31' First win in the new stadium" next to his name.
On October 26, 2010, the New York Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys in Cowboys Stadium 41–35, leaving the Cowboys at a disappointing 1–5 for the year. This contest is notable for the Giantslinebacker Michael Boley driving Tony Romo to the turf and causing Romo to break his left clavicle and most likely ending the Cowboys chances at a playoff run.
On November 14, 2010, during the teams' first meeting at New Meadowlands Stadium, the lights briefly went out, causing a delay. The Dallas Cowboys won the game 33–20, scoring a win in Jason Garrett's head coaching debut.
On December 11, 2011, during the teams' first meeting of the season, with the NFC East lead on the line, the Dallas Cowboys led the New York Giants 34–22 with 5:41 left to play. Eli Manning led the Giants to a comeback, and Giant's Jason Pierre-Paul blocked Dallas kicker Dan Bailey's game-tying field goal with 6 seconds remaining. The New York Giants took a knee with 1 second left, and won the game 37–34. This game was selected as #2 on Top 20 NFL Games of 2011.
On January 1, 2012, the New York Giants hosted the Dallas Cowboys in what amounted to a NFC East Divisional Championship Game. Both teams entered the game with identical 8–7 records and a share of the lead of the NFC East. With the divisional title and a playoff berth on the line the game was flexed from 1 pm to the 8:30 pm Sunday Night Football slot. While the New York Giants took a 21–0 half time lead, Tony Romo brought the Cowboys back, making the score 21–14 early in the 4th quarter. The New York Giants would hold on however, winning 31–14 and earning their first NFC East Divisional title and playoff berth since 2008 while knocking the Cowboys out of the playoffs. The Giants eventually made another playoff run reminiscent of their 2007 season and won Super Bowl XLVI.
On October 28, 2012 the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants played for a second time in the 2012 season at Dallas. New York Giants looked to avenge themselves after losing the season opening game to the Dallas Cowboys at home. The New York Giants took an astounding 23–0 lead in the 2nd quarter partly because of three Tony Romo interceptions. Dallasrallied up to make the game 23–10 before halftime. The Dallas Cowboys, took the third quarter 14–0 to take a 24–23 lead. Eli Manning led two successful drives for New York both resulting in a field goal regaining a 29–24 lead. The Dallas Cowboys had less than 4 minutes to score a touchdown and take the lead. On fourth down, in the Giants territory, Tony Romo was pressured and forced to throw yet another interception. The Dallas Cowboys used all three remaining time outs during that Giants' possession, but forced Giants to punt and got the ball back with under a minute remaining. Tony Romo threw a pass into the end zone with 10 seconds left to Dez Bryant and the play was ruled a touchdown. The play was reviewed and the officials noticed that the first part of the receiver to touch the ground was his hand, which was partially out of bounds. The call was reversed and the play was ruled an incomplete pass. The Dallas Cowboys failed to score a touchdown and the final score was NYG 29–24 DAL.
On November 23, 2014, during a game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants on Sunday Night Football, Odell Beckham Jr. had 10 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns, including a one-handed touchdown reception hailed as the "catch of the year", with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Tony Dungy, Victor Cruz and even NBA superstar LeBron James all saying that it was one of the best catches ever. Beckham made this catch despite a pass interference penalty called on Dallas's Brandon Carr while diving backwards with full extension of his right hand using only three fingers. On December 8, 2014 the Pro Football Hall of Fame put Beckham's game-worn jersey from his famous one-handed catch game vs. Dallas on display.
The New York Giants were undefeated against the Cowboys in AT&T Stadium since its opening in 2009 until week 1 of the 2013. (Giants record at AT&T Stadium is 5–3). The Cowboys have a similar record at MetLife Stadium at 4-3. The Giants then beat the Cowboys 20–19 at AT&T Stadium, ending a 3-game losing steak at Dallas on September 11, 2016.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie indicated his support of the Cowboys despite the Giants having their home field in his state.