Giants playoff hopes somehow stay alive with win over Dallas Cowboys after heartstopping ending

Pat Leonard, New York Daily News

Wayne Gallman dropped the football and the Giants’ playoff hopes to the turf on Sunday, only to recover his own fumble and keep Big Blue’s heart barely beating into the night. And the Giants held on for a 23-19 victory despite scoring only three points in the second half.

Gallman fumbled the ball untouched at the Giants’ 33-yard line with 58 seconds remaining while trying to ice the regular season finale against the Dallas Cowboys with a four-point lead.

Officials signaled Cowboys ball when the pile broke up, and Dallas safety Donovan Wilson emerged holding the football. But the on-field officials changed their ruling and determined Gallman had recovered his own fumble.

A replay review showed Gallman did in fact recoup possession of the ball.

The win means the Giants (6-10) stay alive in the playoff hunt going to Sunday Night Football, needing a Washington loss to the Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC East and reach the playoffs.

Leonard Williams had a monster game for the Giants on defense, recording three sacks to give him 11.5 on the season playing on the franchise tag. He will command a major payday on his new contract.

Williams’ second-down sack and third-down QB hit ended the Cowboys’ final drive at the Giants’ 17 yard line. Andy Dalton threw the ball up for grabs on third down as he rolled out toward Williams, and Giants rookie Xavier McKinney made his first NFL interception in the end zone.

The Giants took over at the 20 yard line with 1:15 remaining. Gallman took his handoff on first down for five yards.

On second down, Gallman burst through the middle of the line and was free on the second level of the defense, but he suddenly dropped the ball out of his right arm to the turf, then sat down on top of it trying to recover.

But the Cowboys dove on top of the pile, and it looked like Dallas had recovered. One replay even showed the ball popping into the air out of the pile during the scrum.

Eventually, though, Gallman was saved when the referees determined that the runner was down with possession and the replay appeared to show an angle of Gallman clutching the ball to his chest before it was ripped out.