Sunday’s tilt at MetLife Stadium appeared to be another signature comeback of the Tom Coughlin New York Giants. With 4:45 to go, a 4 yard Eli Manning hook up with Louis Murphy Jr, followed by an Andre Brown two point conversion run, tied the game up at 21 apiece, shocking considering they had trailed the Dallas Cowboys 21-6 earlier in the half. With the Meadowlands expecting a Tony Romo turnover in the clutch, Giants fans got loud as they expected the team to continue their winning streak, which stood at four games going in.
However, Romo, in another clutch performance, led the Boys on a 14 play, 64 yard drive that ended with K Dan Bailey’s game winning 35 yard field goal as time expired. The win moved the Cowboys (6-5) back into first place in the NFC East by virtue of their tiebreaker over the idle Philadelphia Eagles, and clinched the Cowboys’ first regular season sweep of the Giants (4-7) since 2007. Dallas is 3-1 at MetLife Stadium since it opened in 2010.
While the Giants foretold that “blood would be spilled” and guaranteed victory, the Cowboys stayed quiet leading into the big game. The 1st half started off similarly, with the teams combining for 3 punts and 1 turnover, a Romo pass that bounced off WR Dez Bryant’s hands and into the arms of S Antrell Rolle. On the ensuing New York possession, however, CB Orlando Scandrick stripped WR Victor Cruz of the ball, and S Jeff Heath took it 50 yards for a 7-0 lead after the 1st quarter. In the second, Dallas responded to a New York field goal with a 20 yard Romo pass to TE Jason Witten. Though the Giants responded with another Josh Brown field goal before the end of the 1st half, the Cowboys had a seemingly safe 21-6 advantage in the 3rd quarter after another Romo-to-Witten touchdown, this one from two yards out.
However, the carelessness the Cowboys have displayed a majority of the year exposed itself late in the 3rd quarter. On 4th and 3 from the Dallas 27, Manning completed a 1st down pass to TE Brandon Myers, who made a diving catch. Neither Heath or LB Bruce Carter touched Myers when he was down, leading the former Raider to waltz into the end zone to close the gap to 21-13. Manning later found Murphy for a score in the 4th quarter. It was just Murphy’s 2nd reception of the year. However, Manning and the Giants left plenty of time for Romo’s heroics. After converting just one of eight previous 3rd down attempts, the Cowboys converted three of them on the final drive, silencing the rowdy New York crowd and setting up Bailey’s game winning field goal.
Despite allowing 356 yards (including 202 on the ground) and the tying score, the Dallas defense had an admirable performance, especially considering that leading tackler Sean Lee was missing. DE Jason Hatcher, who celebrated the victory by smearing fake blood over his face, sacked Manning twice and the defense was in the youngest Manning brother’s face all day. He would finish the day 16-30 with 174 yards and 1 TD. While Brown (127 yards) and Brandon Jacobs (75) had room to run all day, no Giants receiver had over 100 yards. The normally explosive Cruz had just 2 receptions for 27 yards, leaving Reuben Randle to lead the way with 65 yards on 3 receptions. The biggest contribution from the defense was probably their performance in the red zone. Though they allowed the Murphy touchdown to tie it, the Cowboys limited the Giants to mere Brown field goals, allowing them to keep the lead. New York also went 3-12 on 3rd down. Offensively, the Cowboys were paced by Romo (23-38, 250 yards, 2 TD’s), RB DeMarco Murray (126 total yards), Bryant (9 receptions, 102 yards) and Witten (4 receptions, 37 yards, 2 TD’s).
With a 4-0 divisional record, the Cowboys now head to their annual Thanksgiving matchup, with this year’s opponent being the Oakland Raiders.