ARLINGTON, Texas — Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott sustained a gruesome ankle injury not long after his first career touchdown catch before backup Andy Dalton led a drive to a field goal on the final play, and the Cowboys beat the winless Giants, 37-34, on Sunday.
Michael Gallup made two spectacular sideline catches on throws from Dalton, the second a 38-yarder to the Giants’ 16-yard line. The Cowboys ran the clock down to 3 seconds, and Greg Zuerlein had his second game-ending kick of the season, from 34 yards.
Prescott was going down in the arms of Giants defensive back Logan Ryan at the end of a 9-yard run in the third quarter when his right leg got caught under Ryan and appeared to snap.
Prescott reached for the leg as he writhed in pain, and TV footage showed his right foot bent at an awkward angle away from his leg. He fought back tears as he was carted off with a cast on the leg. Most of Prescott’s teammates rushed to greet him, as did several members of the Giants, including Ryan and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who coached Prescott for four years in Dallas.
The team said Prescott had a fracture-dislocation of the right ankle and was taken to a hospital, where surgery was planned late Sunday.
Dalton was Cincinnati’s starter for nine seasons before the Bengals drafted Joe Burrow No. 1 over all last spring and Dalton signed a one-year deal to be Prescott’s backup.
Dalton and rookie center Tyler Biadasz fumbled an exchange on Dalton’s first full series, setting up Devonta Freeman’s 4-yard scoring run and offensive tackle Andrew Thomas’s 2-point conversion catch to put the Giants ahead, 34-31.
After Dallas got even and forced a Giants punt, Gallup made a toe-dragging 19-yard catch. Then Gallup made an over-the-shoulder grab with Dion Lewis running stride for stride. Both catches held up on review.
The Cowboys (2-3), who trailed by two touchdowns in the second quarter for their fourth straight game with a double-digit deficit, extended their lead when Ezekiel Elliott ran in from 12 yards out to make it 31-23 three plays after Prescott’s injury. Elliott had 91 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
It was the first game back in Dallas for Garrett, who was replaced by Mike McCarthy after the Cowboys missed the playoffs amid high expectations last season.
Four years ago, Garrett chose to keep Prescott, then a rookie leading a franchise-best 11-game winning streak, as the starter over Tony Romo. Prescott, who replaced an injured Romo in the preseason, has started every game of his career.
Garrett’s offense stopped a two-game streak without a touchdown by getting in the end zone on the Giants first possession with a 3-yard reverse to tight end Evan Engram.
The Giants led, 17-3, in the second quarter — the fourth straight game with a double-digit deficit for the Cowboys — before the Cowboys went in front, 24-20, with 16 seconds left in the first half on Prescott’s 11-yard catch on a pass from receiver Cedrick Wilson, who took a reverse pitch from Elliott.
At 0-5, the Giants will face the Washington Football team at home next Sunday in the second of three straight N.F.C. East games.
The Cowboys, increased the size of the crowd at AT&T Stadium to 25,147 fans, an uptick in capacity for the third straight home game.