Drive of the Game: Cowboys in the fourth
September, 6, 2012
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning and the Giants were masterful at engineering fourth-quarter comebacks a season ago -- including against the Cowboys.
But on Wednesday night, it was Dallas that owned the fourth quarter -- including the biggest drive of the game, an 82-yard march that essentially salted away the Cowboys' 24-17 victory.
The Giants actually had the ball to start the fourth quarter, trailing by a touchdown, 17-10. They were going to be forced to punt from deep in their own territory, but were bailed out by a roughing-the-passer penalty after a Manning incompletion on third down. Still, the Giants could not take advantage, and were forced to punt the ball away.
Al Bello/Getty ImagesMiles Austin makes a catch that turns into a 34-yard TD.
That's when the drive of the game commenced, with the Cowboys taking over on their own 18-yard line and 13:03 remaining. It was up to the Giants' defense to stop Tony Romo & Co., and give the offense another chance to tie the game. But they couldn't do so.
Instead, Dallas went 82 yards in eight plays, taking a precious seven minutes and six seconds off the clock in the process.
The Cowboys utilized a mixture of the run and the pass during this critical stretch. DeMarco Murray had a couple of nice rushes, and Romo connected with both Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree on big plays.
The most remarkable thing about this climactic drive? The Cowboys committed five penalties -- five! -- yet still stuck the ball in the end zone.
Dallas never even faced a third down. But they did face a first-and-30 from the Giants' 34-yard line after back-to-back 10-yard penalties. That's when Romo hit the jackpot, lofting a ball down the left-hand side that Austin reeled in over Giants cornerback Justin Tryon, taking it in for the score.
After the extra point, the Cowboys led 24-10. The Giants had less than six minutes on the clock, needing two touchdowns to tie. And that was too much to ask this time around.