The Cowboys' historic Giants beatdown by the numbers

How bad was Sunday's 40-0 Cowboys blowout? So, so bad for New York

Sunday night’s Cowboys-Giants game kicked off at 8:20 Eastern Time, and by 8:45 or so, the only question remaining was how bad of a whomping this game would be.

Dallas won the game, which is somewhat like saying the Ice Age was a touch brisk. The Cowboys unleashed a beatdown literally unprecedented in team history, as the numbers prove. According to ESPN Stats & Info (hide your eyes, Giants fans):

  • The 40-0 win was the largest shutout victory in Dallas history.

  • Dallas is the fifth team in NFL history to open their season with a 40-plus-point shutout on the road, and the first since the 1999 Steelers did it to the Browns.

  • The Cowboys are the first team in NFL history to open the season with a 40-plus-point shutout of a team that made the playoffs the previous season.

Oh, but it wasn’t just the Cowboys making history last night. According to OptaSTATS, prior to Sunday night, no team in the course of a full NFL season has done all of the following:

  • Lost a game by 40 or more points

  • Lost a sack battle by 7 or more

  • Lost a turnover battle by 3-0 or more

  • Had a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown

  • Thrown a pick-6

The Giants did all of that in one game.

Hell, the game even took over social media, spawning two instant-classic memes. First, the Cowboys fan grinning malevolently while the world around him falls apart:

(Via screenshot)
(Via screenshot)

And it was just 16-0 then! It would get worse! So, so much worse, as this poor Giants fan could attest:

If there’s any solace for the Giants, it’s this: you’re not alone. A 40-point margin of victory isn’t all that uncommon; according to Pro Football Reference, 246 of the 17,395 games in pro history have ended with the winner at least 40 points ahead. (Trivia: The most common score in NFL history is 20-17, with 283 occurrences as of Sunday, well ahead of the 230 games that ended 27-24.)

In other words, 1.4 percent of all pro football games have been 40-plus-point shellackings. There are 272 games in an NFL season, which statistically means we’re due for at least two more of these this season, so … heads up, Arizona. (Yes, most of the absolute woodsheddings happened in the pre-Super Bowl, pre-parity era. Roll with it.)

The Giants' 40-0 loss to the Cowboys was historic, for all kinds of bad reasons for New York. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
The Giants' 40-0 loss to the Cowboys was historic, for all kinds of bad reasons for New York. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Five games, including Sunday night, have ended at exactly 40-0, most recently in 2021’s Week 4, when the Bills pasted the Texans. The fates of those losing teams don’t bode well for New York. None made the playoffs, none even managed to win more than six games.

The 40-0 skull-dragging isn’t anywhere close to the worst blowout in NFL history. That honor belongs to the 1940 championship, a Chicago-Washington nailbiter that the Bears won 73-0. (For the record, Chicago had three pick-sixes, and six different Bears rushed for touchdowns. Talk about a fantasy-killing running back platoon.)

The worst recent thrashing came in 2009, when the Patriots annihilated the Titans 59-0 … and didn’t even score in the fourth quarter. Tom Brady inexplicably played all the way into the third quarter. The Titans ended the miserable day with net passing yards of minus-7. At least Daniel Jones wasn’t that bad.

If the Giants really wanted to look on the bright side of life, they could point to the fact that one of the worst beatdowns in NFL history — 45 points, nearly a touchdown worse than New York just suffered — happened not just in the Super Bowl era, but in the Super Bowl itself. That came in Super Bowl XXIV, when the 49ers throttled the Broncos by 45 points, 55-10. Yes, John Elway and the Broncos got steamrolled … but at least they were in the Super Bowl, right? Right … ?

At least the Giants get Arizona next week. That’ll either be good for what’s ailing them … or give Giants fans plenty of time to save up and buy Jets jerseys.