You remember in school when your English teacher would scrape her nails across the chalkboard, how your skin would crawl? That's how this game started for Cowboys fans. After an abysmal opening act that saw the Cowboys bumble and stumble their way to a 23-0 hole less than two minutes into the second quarter, Dallas pumped up themselves and their fans with a scintillating comeback. Several fans probably turned off their televisions knowing how the rest of the script went.
In the second act, they chipped away at the lead and cut it to 23-10 by halftime. They opened the third quarter, the third act, with a 4th and goal touchdown and took the lead on their next possession. Unbelievable, improbable comeback. If they were able to hold onto it, the deficit would have surpassed the 21 points they revived themselves from in Washington back in 1999. That's right, Aikman-to-Rocket.
Unfortunately, there was plenty of time left in the fourth act to revert to the Cowboys of early in the game. The Giants retook the lead 29-24 only to have Dallas have two drives with an opportunity to win the game. On the first drive, inexplicable play-calling on 2nd, then 3rd, then 4th and one saw the Cowboys attempt no run to secure a new set of downs; instead we had Romo rolling out under pressure and throwing his fourth interception of the game. After a three and out, Dallas got one final chance.
Dez Bryant, the butt of so many jokes, insults, derisive jeers throughout the season (and prior) ran a beautiful double move with under 20 seconds to go, leaped into the air between two defenders and hauled in the game winning catch. Except, it wasn't. Using his hand to brace his fall, his fingers landed outside of the endzone before his rear hit the turf; incomplete. Effectively game over. Star-crossed.
The way the Cowboys started the game, they had no business teasing everyone with this high-intensity finish. The Giants drove for an early field goal, Tony Romo throws an interception on a deep ball to Dez Bryant into zone coverage where Bryant didn't cross in front of the defenders. The return set up another Giants field goal, and Tony Romo throws a deep bomb that Miles Austin doesn't get, another interception with healthy return. This time, the Giants converted a touchdown to go up 13-0. A few drives later, Bryant tries to catch a punt over his shoulder, then scoops, then gets his loaf of bread stolen from him. Another field goal, 16-0.
Cowboys have the ball to start the second quarter, Jason Pierre Paul leaps in the air to make a jaw-dropping interception and returns it for a touchdown. 23-0. Again, the Cowboys had no business making this interesting if it wasn't for such a stellar effort from the defense.
Bruce Carter was amazing covering for Sean Lee's absence. Morris Claiborne made play after play, including a fumble recovery. Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher and Josh Brent were disruptive on the defensive line and pressured Eli on several occasions after a slow start. Gerald Sensabaugh crushed Victor Cruz leading to a Danny McCray interception.
Even Ernie Sims acquitted himself very well in his first action as a Cowboy. There were defensive standouts everywhere.
Yet, when it was all said and done, the offense couldn't finish the job despite having three receivers gain over 100 yards. Jason Witten was unstoppable with 18 catches; laughing at the rubes who dared to call him a progress stopper to Martellus Bennett. Miles Austin made the young Giants secondary look ineptly overmatched trying to stop him out of the slot. Dez even chipped in with a 22 yards per catch average. Yet, the offense was still pretty offensive behind Romo's four picks and Felix Jones momentum-killing fumble when he ran into the back of Ryan Cook; reminiscent to the self-fumble on the kickoff return against Seattle. The Giants harassed Romo relentlessly and sacked him four times.
Heart-breaking. Dallas is now 3-4, two and a half games behind the (6-2) Giants who are now sitting pretty in the NFC East at the halfway point. There was so much wrong with the Cowboys, yet so much right with them as well. The defense deserved better than what the offense put out there today. Now, they have to get this bizarro game out of their minds and get ready to travel to face the undefeated Atlanta Falcons.