|ESPN.com: ESPNDallas||[Print without images]|
A ground game that was dominant against the Giants in September never got going Sunday. The Cowboys' tailback trio averaged a shade less than 2.0 yards per carry, forcing offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to become one-dimensional in his second-half play-calling. There was hope that Felix Jones was back to being an explosive weapon after his Thanksgiving performance, but he was held to six yards on six carries. The offensive line, which misses RT Marc Colombo's toughness, got whipped by the New York front four.
Tony Romo set new career highs in completions (41), attempts (55) and yards (392) during a three-touchdown, no-turnover performance. The Cowboys thought they could exploit a pair of backup safeties and succeeded, with TE Jason Witten catching 14 passes (on 16 targets) for a career-high 156 yards. WR Miles Austin had his fourth 100-yard game of the season. WR Roy Williams continued to emerge as a red-zone weapon, scoring twice. Romo's miss of a wide-open Williams down the right sideline late in the game was his only glaring mistake.
The Cowboys contained 6-4, 264-pound running back Brandon Jacobs in the running game, holding him to 39 yards on 13 carries. But backup Ahmad Bradshaw caused big problems, gaining 47 yards on seven carries. Bradshaw's 29-yard run set up a field goal in the fourth quarter that extended the Giants' lead to seven points. NT Jay Ratliff, who ripped the ball away from Bradshaw in the first half to set up a Dallas touchdown, got great penetration again but couldn't make the tackle. Bradshaw reversed field and caught outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware off guard, allowing him to turn the corner.
Eli Manning only completed 44 percent of his passes, but the Cowboys gave up too many big plays. Brandon Jacobs' 74-yard score on a checkdown throw against a zone defense was inexcusable. The Giants' offense was awful until Manning exploited the Dallas two-minute defense late in the second quarter. Manning capped the four-play, 74-yard drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks. The highlight of the drive was Manning tossing the ball to TE Kevin Boss, who rumbled 16 yards, while being wrestled to the ground by Bobby Carpenter and DeMarcus Ware. Nickel CB Orlando Scandrick got picked on again by Steve Smith (six catches, 110 yards), who did most of his damage out of the slot.
For the first time under coach Joe DeCamillis, the Cowboys' special teams played a major role in a loss. Domenik Hixon's 79-yard punt return, which featured four missed tackles by the Cowboys, was a dagger. Nick Folk has missed five of his last seven field goal attempts. The 57-yarder at the end of the half would have been a bonus, but the Cowboys badly needed him to make a 42-yarder when they trailed by four in the fourth quarter. Mat McBriar took the blame for a poor hold, as he's done on two previous occasions. It's probably time for the Cowboys to look at other options at holder, because they can't keep giving away points.