By Jay Betsill
To simply say that the New York Giants won their fourth consecutive visit to Arlington with a 29-24 victory over the Dallas Cowboys does not do the Week 7 NFL contest justice. While it was the 20th time in Eli Manning’s career that the Giants rallied in the fourth quarter to win, it is safe to say it is the first time it has occurred after New York blew an early 23-0 lead.
New York led 23-0 just two minutes into the second quarter when Tony Romo’s third of four interceptions was returned for a touchdown by Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. The Giants would not score again until Lawrence Tynes made a 43-yard field goal with 10:20 left for a 26-24 lead. He would add a 37-yarder with 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter for his fifth field goal of the contest.
In between, the Cowboys put on an offensive display with Romo passing for a career-high 437 yards while completing 36-of-62 passes. Tight end Jason Witten broke his own team record with 18 catches, which resulted in 167 yards. According to Elias Sports Bureau, they were the most catches by a tight end in NFL history. Miles Austin had nine catches for 133 yards while Dez Bryant added five catches for 110 yards.
After falling down by 23 points, Dallas had clawed back to take a 24-23 and the crowd that had booed the very sight of owner Jerry Jones – when he appeared on the stadium’s huge video board during a breast cancer spot – was back in the game and believing in America’s Team. When Dez Bryant had seemingly caught the game-winning touchdown, the game that could not have began any worse (on the FOX broadcast, Troy Aikman had hinted that perhaps it was time that Romo should be replaced by backup Kyle Orton, if only for this game) was shaping up to be one of the greatest comebacks in the storied franchise’s history. Officials reviewed and overturned Bryant’s apparent 37-yard touchdown catch (ruling his hand hit out of bounds) and the crowd booed so loud one had to look to see if Jerry Jones was back on the video board. Dallas was unable to get into the end zone and after one last gasp possession, the defending Super Bowl champions found themselves with a commanding lead in the NFC East as the only team in the division with a winning record.
“Just tough when you think you’ve won the game,” Romo said. “It switches at that moment. You put a lot into it, obviously. We put a week’s worth (of emotion) in that one game.”
Dallas outgained the Giants, 434-293, owned the time of possession, 32:17 to 27:42, and had fewer penalties, three to five. But, the Cowboys’ barrage of six turnovers for the game were simply too much to overcome.
“I’m very disappointed right now,” Jones said. “I thought after all that, our defense played well enough, our offense kept going and I thought we were going to get a chance to pull one out.”
Next up for Dallas (3-4) is a trip to Atlanta for a date with the undefeated Falcons at 7:20 p.m. on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. The Falcons are 7-0 for the first time in the franchise’s 47-year history and fresh off a 30-17 beatdown of the Philadelphia Eagles. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan finished 22 of 29 for 262 yards and three TDs. Ryan and his targets Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez should give the Cowboys secondary all they can handle. The Falcons scored on their first six possessions against the Eagles defense and Ryan’s 137.4 passer rating was his highest of the season and the third highest of his career.
● The only Dallas Cowboys with more passing yards in a game than Romo’s 437 against the Giants are Don Meredith (460 in November 1963) and Troy Aikman (455 in November 1998).
● The only other time the Dallas Cowboys had three 100-yard receivers was November 10, 1963, at San Francisco.