Rapid Reaction: Giants 29, Cowboys 24
October, 28, 2012
By Calvin Watkins | ESPN.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- These games between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants are always close. Nearly all of them, it seems. Sunday's was no different, and it came down to the final moments again.
The Giants held on for a dramatic 29-24 victory at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday afternoon. They are now 4-0 at Cowboys Stadium since the $1.2 billion palace opened.
What it means: The Cowboys are 3-4 overall and are 1-1 in the division with four NFC East games remaining. The Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins both lost Sunday. This is a difficult loss for the Cowboys, who will be on the road next week at Atlanta.
The miracle catch that wasn't: With six seconds left, Dez Bryant made what appeared to be a leaping 37-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo. One problem: As Bryant came down with the catch, his right hand landed on the wide part of the end zone. The referees ruled touchdown and Cowboys Stadium went crazy. Bryant fell down after making the catch and needed help off the field. After a review of the play, it was ruled that Bryant was out of bounds.
Comebacks for Romo, Manning: Eli Manning has done it again. He has 23 regular-season comeback victories and is 27-5 in October. He continues to outplay Romo down the stretch. The Cowboys took the lead after rallying from a 23-point deficit, which would have been the Cowboys' and Romo's biggest comeback.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers: The Cowboys had a season-high six turnovers, five of them leading to New York scores. The last came when Romo scrambled and directed a pass at tight end Jason Witten, but it was picked off by Stevie Brown with 1:03 left to play, sealing the victory for the Giants.
Bryant benched on punts: Bryant has struggled on punt returns all season. In the first half he muffed a punt, secured it and then fumbled it, eventually leading to a Giants' score. Bryant was replaced by Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris on punt returns. As far as receiver play, Bryant made one mistake on a route, leading to an interception, but he also caught a 55-yard bomb and finished the day with five catches for 110 yards. Bryant returned as the punt returner with less than a minute to play.
The fourth-down play: The Cowboys were faced with a fourth-and-1 from the New York 19 and Romo was flushed out of the pocket. He moved to the Giants' 40 and lofted the pass to Witten that was intercepted by Brown. It was Romo's fourth interception of the day. You could say, with three timeouts, the Cowboys could have run the ball with Felix Jones, who was in the backfield as the Cowboys had a four-receiver set. Instead, the Cowboys tried to throw the ball and the play failed them.
Dan Connor, who earned the start with Sean Lee out with a toe injury, suffered a neck strain in the first half and didn't return. Orie Lemon replaced Connor in the starting lineup. It's another example of how defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has to juggle the lineup. Ryan has missed numerous starters, including nose tackle Jay Ratliff, defensive end Kenyon Coleman and safety Gerald Sensabaugh. Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware left the game with an undisclosed injury but returned.
What gets lost: Tight end Jason Witten had a wonderful day. He finished with a career-high 18 catches for 167 yards and no touchdowns. Romo targeted Witten 21 times. It was a sharp contract to the season opener for Witten, who was playing after being cleared from a lacerated spleen to participate in the Week 1 victory. That night, Witten had two catches for 10 yards and numerous drops.
What's next? The Cowboys visit the Atlanta Falcons, who are coming off a 30-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Falcons (7-0) are 29-6 at the Georgia Dome, the third most home victories in the NFL since 2008. Only the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots have more.