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Monday, January 13, 2014
Five moments that shaped the season: No. 5

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

This week, we'll be taking a look at five moments that shaped the New York Giants' disappointing 2013 season. I chose the word "moments" in order to be intentionally broad. For our purposes, a "moment" could be a play, a series of plays, an injury... any number of things. Vague is the way to go on these types of projects, and I think that's for the best. We'll also do them in reverse order, so No. 1 will be Friday. Now, without further ado...

No. 5: Tony Romo ends the dream

I resisted, but faithful Giants fans, the state of the division and actual math did in fact keep the Giants' hopes of reaching the playoffs alive in spite of their 0-6 start. They won four in a row to move within a game of the second-place Cowboys and a game and a half of the first-place Eagles. When Dallas rolled into MetLife Stadium on Nov. 24, the Giants had a legitimate opportunity to move within a game of first place with a win. And when they finished erasing a 15-point second-half deficit and tied the game with 4:45 to go, the frozen home crowd was as fired up as it would be at any point in the season.

But it was not to be. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo led Dallas on a 14-play, 64-yard drive that sapped all of the remaining time off the clock and set reliable Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey up for a game-winning 35-yard field goal. Romo completed three third-down passes on the drive, the last one to Cole Beasley with 1:17 to go to move the ball from the Giants' 28 to the Giants' 15. Had that pass not been completed, Bailey's attempt to win the game would have been from a far less certain 45 yards and, even if successful, would have given the ball back to Eli Manning and the Giants with at least some time left on the clock to get themselves into range for a game-tying field goal.

Instead, the Giants fell to 4-7, two full games behind the eventual division champion Eagles and the Cowboys, against whom they were 0-2. With almost no chance to win any tiebreakers, trailing two teams by two games with five to play effectively ended the Giants' hopes for a miracle comeback. They would be officially eliminated from postseason contention two weeks later with a loss in San Diego.