By Will Martin
One of the twelve coldest games played in Cowboys history. The second coldest November game in Cowboys history. Playing a division rival for a second time and the chance to sweep. The start of Thanksgiving Week with another game in four days. A team depleted by injuries with a hangover looming from two weeks ago in New Orleans. One returning ace in the hole with Miles Austin, and the speculative hope of special teams being able to be a difference maker in a game that Dallas needed to win. Against the New York Giants and all their bulletin board talk. And they did!
Tony Romo is one of the best, if not the best, in passer rating in the 4th quarter of games he’s involved in. Yeah, go ahead and insert a chuckle and a punch line for the pick or the turnover. It’s happened so many times just like the Denver game, right?
Not this time. Romo’s two touchdown passes brought him to the 200 plateau in his career. 23 completions on 38 attempts for 250 yards with one interception courtesy of a batted pass by a receiver. For all the talk about not getting Dez Bryant the ball there were 16 pass attempts to number 88. Quite a few drops and a costly cough up of a fumble that placed the Silver and Blue in a 3rd and 30 earlier in the game at East Rutherford, NJ.
When it was crunch time, when it was time for clutch, it was Tony Romo who would complete two third down plays in a 14 play drive in the final 4:45 to place Dan Bailey in position to punch in a 35-yard field goal as the gun expired for a dramatic and thrilling 24-21 win over New York.
The victory ended a New York four game winning streak. One where the victories were against sub-par teams. At 4-7 the Giants now sit on the outside looking in while Dallas gets back to above .500 at 6-5, tied with the Philadelphia Eagles and what looks to be a looming Week 17 flex game on December 29th when they meet.
In a game where the Dallas Cowboys played some dominant defense there were some really stupid lapses in focus. One play that will be talked about for a little while will be the touchdown Dallas allowed on a Brandon Myers completion on a third down play where Bruce Carter ran right by Myers inside the 5 yard line without touching him. Brandon Myers quickly got up and scored what would then place the Giants in a 21-13 hole.
In a matchup that was penalty-filled and began before kick-off with trash talking on the playing field pre-game Dallas would strike first on a play that appeared to be a completion and a stop to Victor Cruz midfield in the first quarter. No whistle blown as Orlando Scandrick stripped the ball out of Cruz’ hands. Jeff Heath scooped up the fumble 50 yards for his first career touchdown and a 7-0 Cowboys lead.
22 penalties notwithstanding-11 by each team-Eli Manning was ineffective trying to get into the Red Zone having to settle for two field goals. One of those field goals after Morris Claiborne was called for pass interference as Dallas held New York on a first and goal stand. The other field goal brought on after a penalty was assessed on Jarius Wynn. The Cowboys otherwise were able to keep the Giants and Eli Manning in check.
Manning would have better luck in the second half throwing for two touchdown passes. Overall a paltry 16 of 30 for only 174 yards. No where near the 450 he hung on the Cowboys back on Opening Night.
With a 14-6 halftime lead to start the 3rd quarter Tony Romo and team were able to pad the lead to 21-6 on some porous defense by the G-men. A roughing the passer and an Antrel Rolle late hit would place the pigskin on the New York six where a little milestone history was made.
Rolling back to throw, Tony Romo found Jason Witten for their second connection of the game. The throw was Tony Romo’s 200th career touchdown pass. It was also the 50th career touchdown for Jason Witten in his Cowboy career.
Lest you think this ballgame was in the bag I remind you this the Dallas Cowboys I speak about. It’s never a blowout when these two teams meet. Eli Maning would begin to catch a little fire. A 15 point lead fell to 8 at 21-13 when Eli Manning found Brandon Myers for a score after a failed touch/tackle by Bruce Carter and Jeff Heath.
The following two possessions produced nothing for the Cowboys and then New York would start a drive at their 42. Coupled with a 22-yard completion to Victor Cruz and a few rushes by Andre Brown and Brandon Jacobs, Manning would reach the end zone on a 6-yard toss to Louis Murphy. Going for two Andre Brown ambled on in for a score and a 21-21 tie.
Five minutes left in the game and Dallas with the ball. Would we see another Classic Cowboys meltdown at crunch time? Seated amongst a bunch of longtime Cowboys fans all you could hear is:
1. Romo is going to blow this one!
2. Don’t throw to Dez!
3. Where the hell has Miles Austin been this game?
4. How did we let New York back into this game?
5. Damn it, I can’t bear to watch!
6. Here we go again!
7. Jason Garret is too passive.
8. As banged up as we are we’re still in this?
9. We aren’t a cold weather team!
10. This is all Jerry’s fault!
Like the paying customer who attends the play and anticipates an unlikely finish to the plot everyone would be set upon a wild, bumpy, and joyous finish.
Tony Romo would throw an array of passes to Gavin Escobar, Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, and Miles Austin in a drive that would eat up the rest of the clock before Dan Bailey would decide the outcome 24-21.
What was curious about that final drive was how Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley came up big after some earlier drops and what appeared to be a lack of focus under adverse conditions. Equally interesting was the way Tony Romo was finally to convert successfully on third down after an 0 for 22 streak in Cajun country and beginning this game.
Statistically, DeMarco Murray had 86 yards rushing on 14 carries-1 for 30 yards. Lance Dunbar added 20 on three carries while Tony Romo completed passes to no less than EIGHT Cowboys receivers. Dez Bryant caught 9 passes for 102 yards while DeMarco Murray caught three for 40 yards. The remaining six: Terrence Williams, Cole Beasley, Miles Austin, Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, and Lance Dunbar caught at least one pass from 5 to 37 yards.
Andre Brown and Brandon Jacobs would rush 30 times for 202 yards on the Dallas Cowboys. The two early stops on 1st and goal which amounted to field goals amounted to the difference in the game. That and special teams.
Punter Chris Jones would belt his first of seven punts into the wind 51 yards and set a tone for field position for the Giants all afternoon.
Statistically the game was even-steven with time of possession (30:39-29:21) and total yards (352-326). On the anniversary date of DB Cooper doing a great escape off an airplane Thanksgiving Week , Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys do the same thing as they board the plane back home as they can now prepare for the Oakland Raiders and another national audience watching.
Dallas: At crunch time you came through in a big way. Sorry to disappoint the Romo haters.