Things didn’t start off well for Dallas, as they went 3-and-out on their first possession. After the defense held New York, Quarterback Tono Romo was sacked in the end zone on the next possession by Jason Pierre-Paul for a safety and the Giants drew first blood, taking a 2-0 lead.
New York took over after a Matt Briar punt on the free kick after the safety. They got a drive going, thanks to a 64-yard pass from Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks to the Dallas 4, but were forced to settle for a Lawrence Tines 23-yard field goal, pushing the lead to 5-0 with 9:50 left in the first quarter.
Dallas finally got on the board with an 8-play, 80-yard drive that took 4:18 off the clock, when Romo hit John Phillips from 12 yards out with 2:59 left in the opening period. Dan Bailey nailed the PAT and Dallas led 7-5.
The Giants began their next drive at their 20 and put together a touchdown drive, starting on their 20. The drive was 10-plays, 80 yards, and took 5:04. After Tines added the point after, the Giants retook the lead, 12-7.
Dallas went methodically down the field on an 11-play, 80-yard drive, taking 6:19 off the clock, and found the end zone for the second time when Romo hit Laurent Robinson from 9 yards out, getting the lead back at 14-12 after Bailey’s point after kick.
The Giants held onto the ball for 11 plays on their next drive, but Rob Ryan’s defense stiffened when it needed to most, and the visitor were forced to punt the ball away.
Dallas got the ball back at their 4 with 1:38 left in the half, but on the first play Felix Jones gained 5 yards, but fumbled the pigskin away to Deon Grant at the Dallas 14. The Giants weren’t able to get into the end zone, but Tines did kick a 26-y7ard field goal with 1:03 left in the half, and New York took the lead back, 15-14.
The Cowboys were determined to atone for the previous possession, and the team’s grit paid off. Romo led the ‘Boys on a 6-play, 49-yard drive that culminated with a 49-yard Bailey field goal with 20 seconds left in the first half. The kick put Dallas back on top 17-15 at the intermission.
The Giants went 3-and-out on their initial possession of the second half, and Dallas got the ball back at their 28 after a Steve Weatherford punt. Romo led the offense down the field to the New York 31, but the drive stalled and Bailey entered the game for a 49-yard field goal. The kick was good, and Dallas ended the 11-play, 41-yard, 5:11 drive with a 20-15 lead.
The Giants got the ball back and went on a 9-play, 85-yard drive that consumed 3:12 off the third quarter clock, and took a 22-20 lead after a 49-yard scoring strike from Manning to Mario Manningham, and a Tines PAT with 4:30 left in the 3rd quarter.
Kevin Ogletree set the Cowboys up with decent field possession at the Dallas 31 with a 25-yard kickoff return. Though Dallas did get a drive going, it stalled out when Romo was sacked on a critical 3rd down, and McBriar had to kick the ball back to the Giants.
The Dallas “D” came up with a big play on the next New York drive on a 3rd-and-2, and Dallas got the ball back at their 20 after a touchback of Weatherford’s punt.
Romo hit Laurent Robinson for a gain of 74 yards on a key 3rd down in the possession, down to the Giants 6, setting up a 1st-and-goal. On the next play, Romo hit Miles Austin in the right corner of the end zone for the touchdown. After Bailey hit the PAT, Dallas was back on top 27-22 with 12:43 left in the game. The scoring play was 4 plays, 80 yards, and took 1:31.
The Giants were moving down the field on their ensuing possession when Sean Lee intercepted Manning and returned the ball 30 yards to the Giants 49. The pass was batted in the air by Victor Butler, hit Lee on the back of his shoulder pads, then he turned around and made the pick. The turnover gave Dallas the ball in plus territory and on the second play after the turnover Romo hit a wide-open Dez Bryant from the 50 with 5:41 left in the game. After Bailey’s point after kick, Dallas grabbed a commanding 34-22 lead and appeared to have the game in control.
On their next possession, Manning led his team down the field and hit Jake Ballard from 8 yards out with 3:14 left in the contest. The score capped an 8-play, 80-yard drive, and took 2:27. After Tines hit the point after, the Giants were back within 5, trailing 34-29.
After a touchback on the ensuing kick, Dallas took back over at their 20, needing only a couple of first downs to ice the win. On a 3rd-and-5 Romo overthrew an open Miles Austin and McBriar punted the ball out of bounds at the New York 40.
On the first play of the drive Manning hit Ballard for a gain of 23 down to the Dallas 37, and moving the clock to the two minute warning. Brandon Jacobs scored from 1-yard out with 46 seconds left in the game, putting New York back up 35-23. The Giants went for 2 on the conversion and Manning handed the ball off to D.J. Ware who went into the end zone from 3 yards out almost untouched, and New York’s lead went to 3, 37-34. The drive was 6 plays, 58 yards, and took 1:26.
Dallas got the ball back after the Tines kickoff at the 20 after a touchback. They had no timeouts left and only 46 seconds to try to tie the game. Romo, with the aid of the two minute offense, moved the Cowboys down to the Giants 29 with 6 seconds left. On a 2nd-and-10 Dan Bailey came in to attempt a game-tying 47-yard field goal. The kick was good, and just as Dallas fans thought OT was coming for the second week in a row, Referee Scott Green announced that New York had called time out prior to the snap. The call proved to be critical, as Jason Pierre-Paul got in the air just enough to block the Bailey kick. Manning came in and took a knee and the Giants escaped with a 37-34 win.
Coach Jason Garrett refused to succumb to the gloom-and-doom many of the media were pressing him with when he gave his post-game news conference.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game and everybody on our football team left it all on the field. What matters is what we do now. We’ve got to process this game and figure out what to do and go out and beat Tampa Bay next week. You have to put this behind you.”
“We just have to play better in particular areas and see what we can do to get better. We have to process this quickly and get ready to play on a short week. We have to learn from it and hopefully, learn how to move forward. We didn’t get the necessary stops and we have to find a way to do that in the future.”
Quarterback Tony Romo was obviously down when he faced the media. “It’s a tough loss and will be rough for the next few hours, but we’ve got to put it behind us and get ready for Tampa. It’s going to sting for a while. Anytime you lose its disappointing. We just have to move on. We didn’t get the win today and it was an important game. We’ve just got to get better. We need to get a win next week and get back going. You’ve got to put your head down and keep playing games.”
Team Owner Jerry Jones was obviously totally disgusted by the ineptitude of his team when asked his thoughts about the inexcusable loss. “Guys, very disappointing. Major game for both teams; my hats off to the Giants. They didn’t quit, they came back and they played well right at the end. Eli and the entire team came back and got the win. I know every Dallas Cowboy fan is disappointed. We are disappointed and we certainly know that we’ve got our work cut out for us. Maybe (we can) give you guys something positive to write about. That’s all I’ve got.”
With the victory New York moves to 7-6 and Dallas falls to 7-6, but by virtue of their head-to-head win the Giants technically are in first place ahead of the Cowboys. Dallas will play in Tampa Bay Saturday, and then hosts the Philadelphia Eagles on Christmas Eve before ending the season at the new Meadowlands against the Giants on New Year’s Day.
This team probably WON’T make the playoffs, and if they DO, they will almost certainly be one-and-done. This is a mediocre team at best, with overpaid superstars who fail to perform up to their potential, a defense as full of holes as Swiss cheese, and an almost has-been quarterback!