On a cold, blustery and windy day, the Cowboys traveled to the New Meadowlands Stadium trying to right their ship after taking a week off with a bye. They played into the night as the temperatures plummeted, but in the end Dallas will feel warm and fuzzy on their plane-ride back to Dallas, as 24-21 winners.
Dallas now sits at 6-5 on the year and a neat and tidy 4-0 against the NFC East.
The beleaguered Dallas Cowboys defense, led by Jason Hatcher's two sacks, made several key stops during the game, but allowed the Giants to tie the score with just under 6 minutes remaining. That was nothing for the Cowboys offense though, as they corrected their third-down woes with three crucial conversions on a drive that took up the remaining time in the quarter. Dan Bailey came on with just four seconds to go and nailed the 35-yard kick to give Dallas the win.
True to his nickname, Dan Bailey nailed the kick right down the middle, despite the New Jersey wind. He "Split'Em!" for a Cowboys record 8th game-winning kick.
The walkup to the game included plenty of theatrics by Giants players, and even brought the teams to a shouting match prior to the game. However, the Cowboys did their best to keep their composure and benefitted from several personal foul penalties on New York throughout the evening.
The Cowboys defense held in several crucial situations, including a four-down stop inside their own 40 to start the second half. The offense then proceeded to methodically march the field, culminating in a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten, his 2nd of the game. The completion was quarterback Tony Romo's 200th career touchdown. It was also Witten's 50th career touchdown reception.
Romo would finish the game 23-38 for 250 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The win is Romo's 20th career game-winning-drive.
The offense wasn't pretty, as the wind played tricks with several balls and the receivers played tricks with more. They fed Dez Bryant early and often and even though he dropped one that led to a pick, fumbled another that almost cost the game, he was clutch down the stretch with two third-down conversions. He'd finish with 9 catches for 102 yards.
Dallas entered the game amidst a lot of conjecture, as word leaked on Friday that Jason Garrett was injecting himself into the offensive playcalling hierarchy. Quarterback coach Wade Wilson, who normally relays the calls from coordinator Bill Callahan in the booth to Romo, joined BC there for the game. After a horrendous showing by the offense and the defense two weeks ago, the Cowboys were searching for solutions without scrapping the entire season's gameplan.
The Giants on the other hand entered the game hot, winners of four in a row. They had faced a bunch of scrub quarterbacks however, and after an 0-6 start were still a question mark in most's eyes.
Dallas opened up the scoring in a way that we should be getting accustomed to in 2013. A forced fumble strip by Orlando Scandrick was returned 50 yards by UDFA Jeff Heath for a touchdown. It was the Cowboys 5th return touchdown of the season.
It was perfect timing for Dallas, as they had just turned it over to New York on a dropped pass by Dez Bryant that was intercepted by Giants safety Antrelle Rolle. It was an inauspicious start for both offenses, as 40 mph wind gusts rendered both quarterbacks inaccurate on anything with air underneath it.
The Giants would respond to the Dallas score with a 10 play drive, that included a Morris Claiborne pass interference call that put New York inside the 10 yard line. The Cowboys defense, as they have done several times this season, allowed big yards but stiffened when necessary. Bruce Carter stopped Andre Brown on a third down pass short of the goal line and New York settled for 3.
The Cowboys got the ball as the quarter changed and promptly proceeded to use their running backs to gash the Giants defense. DeMarco Murray ran for four, caught a swing pass for 14 and then made a nice cut inside a Doug Free block and raced downfield for a gain of 30. He appeared to pull up injured and was soon replaced by Lance Dunbar.
Dunbar caught a screen and gained 17 yards on the next play. That was followed by a beautiful play action pass to Jason Witten, who was lined up in the left slot and took a good shot at the 3, for the touchdown and a 14-3 lead. It was Romo's 22nd straight game with a TD pass.
Dallas thought they had gotten another turnover on a fumble by Andre Brown, but a questionable illegal contact call on Brandon Carr on the opposite side of the field nullified that. The Giants marched the field, but Dallas was again able to get a stop inside the 10 yard line and New York settled for a field goal.
Those stops proved crucial once New York got their act together in the fourth quarter and continued pounding the Dallas defense with the run. They doubled up the Cowboys run game 202 yards to 101 behind big gains by Andre Brown and Brandon Jacobs. In the end though, points win games, not yards. Dallas was ahead in the only stat category that matters.
The Giants are now 4-7 and can do all the trash talking they want as they have effectively been eliminated from the division race. Dallas (6-5) now prepares for a short week and to face the Raiders on Thanksgiving Day.
Dallas is now 59-42-2 against the Giants lifetime, and swept New York in a season series for the first time since 2007.