East Rutherford, N.J. — 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.
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 the Giants a 12-3 lead with 2:50 left, but the Cowboys 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 Dallas 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 Giants 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 New York.
The chippy fourth quarter belonged to Dallas 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. “I do think we dominated them up front. Zeke ran the ball really well. That’s certainly a part of us playing our best offensive football.”
Browns piling up controversies, losses
Odell Beckham Jr. wore clown-themed cleats that didn’t conform to the NFL’s fussy dress code.
The footwear choice was fitting.
The Browns are a three-ringed circus, their coach walking a tightrope.
Cleveland dropped its fourth straight game Sunday, losing 24-19 to the Denver Browns, who started a quarterback that had never taken a snap in an NFL regular-season game.
However, more disturbing for the Browns were deeper signs of team-wide cultural dysfunction and that first-year coach Freddie Kitchens may be overmatched and in trouble.
Those expectations of a special season are gone, trampled by penalties, turnovers and red-zone ineptitude. Here’s the reality: The Browns (2-6) are not any better.
“These first eight games do not matter,” Kitchens said Monday, going on a tangent after being asked during his news conference why he’s not playing wide receiver Rashard Higgins more. “It is not where we want to be, but it is where we are and that is who our record is so we have to own that.”
Kitchens did his best to simplify the problems by blaming a lack of execution for the team’s strange trip into Colorado’s thin air. If it were only that.
Beckham, wearing white shoes with artwork inspired by the film “Joker,” and Jarvis Landry were both told at halftime by an official that they had to change their cleats or they couldn’t play. Quarterback Baker Mayfield shaved at least twice after getting to the stadium. Kitchens had star running back Nick Chubb next to him on the sideline during a crucial possession.
The Browns cut safety Jermaine Whitehead Monday, hours after he went on a scary social media tirade following the game, unleashing a series of posts that included expletives and a derogatory racial word while threatening a former player.
Jets’ Bell has MRI
The Jets are keeping their fingers crossed while waiting on MRI results for running back Le’Veon Bell after he had one of his knees tested Monday. It was not immediately certain if it could force the former Michigan State star to miss some time. Coach Adam Gase thought the Jets would know more Monday night or Tuesday morning.
“I don’t want to get too alarmed with Le’Veon without any information,” Gase said. “It could be nothing and he just felt like something didn’t feel right. It could be something else. It’s hard for me to go anywhere with it mentally just because I feel like it’s just so gray.”
Gase was unsure when Bell was injured during New York’s 26-18 loss at Miami on Sunday.
“He never said anything to me during the game or said anything to me after the game,” the coach said. “I’m not really sure the extent of this.”
Coach Frank Reich confirmed that Jacoby Brissett has a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee and said the Colts would wait until later this week to determine whether its starting quarterback could play Sunday against Miami.
... Dolphins running back Mark Walton was suspended without pay for the next four games for violating NFL conduct and substance abuse policies.
... DeSean Jackson will have surgery to correct a core muscle injury this morning, said a source close to the Eagles wide receiver.