There were no interceptions thrown by Eli Manning and the New York Giants, surprisingly, didn’t lose the turnover battle. Tony Romo, regardless of the stigma about his late-game skills, came through with a clutch, winning drive, leading the Dallas Cowboys to a 24-21 win, giving them the lead in the NFC East once again while sweeping their bitter rivals for the first time in six years.
On a normal season, maybe the Giants wouldn’t mind. The last time they were swept in the regular season by the Cowboys, they ended up going to the Super Bowl, beating Dallas in the playoffs. But this year is different – they’re 4-7, now two games behind both the Eagles and the Cowboys without any more games to play against them, and Eli Manning suddenly playing like a solid, consistent quarterback has come too late in the season.
As always, the Cowboys were the better team right off the bat. Jeff Heath picked up a Victor Cruz fumble to open the scoring in the first quarter. Jason Witten caught two touchdown passes in the span of 18 minutes to give Dallas a 21-6 lead midway through the third quarter. Things were going as expected, even better.
But the Cowboys’ run-defense fell apart, allowing Andre Brown and Brandon Jacobs to combine for 202 yards on 30 carries. Eli Manning found more and more openings in a defense that’s too eager to create turnovers, often missing assignments and leaving big, gaping holes for quarterbacks to take advantage of. Brandon Myers caught a touchdown pass late in the third, Louis Murphy caught one late in the fourth. We’re at 04:45 to go in the game, tied at 21.
Tony Romo takes chances late in games. More often than not, it works out, but people tend to remember the interceptions and mistakes. This time, he led the Cowboys on a 64 yards drive with not clock-management goof offs from his head coach. He came up big on third down (3-of-3), twice finding Dez Bryant for the key completion. It ended up with a Dan Bailey field goal from 35 yards as time expired, and once again being above .500.
Tony Romo – Everyone understood how important the game was for both teams. They won four in a row to put themselves back into position. They had a home game. I could tell by their words leading up to it that they were confident. That’s what makes the game great. It was a big buildup, but we understood that the game was going to be played on Sunday.
In the final huddle, Romo said the Cowboys are going to score a touchdown and win. He was wrong, but not by much. He was only 6-of-31 on his last 31 third-down attempts since Week 8 prior to the drive. Out of those 31 attempts, he targeted Bryant only four times. Everyone knows his default option is Jason Witten. Even though Bryant once again didn’t score a touchdown (three games in a row), he can’t complain about 9 catches for 102 yards.
The Cowboys running game was at its best, averaging 5.4 yards per carry, including 86 on 14 from DeMarco Murray. It helped Romo in the play-action, completing 8-of-11 for 111 yards and a touchdown off of it. Eli Manning completed less than 50% of his play-action attempts.
The Giants season is almost over. Three road games left to play, not to mention playing someone like the Seattle Seahawks as well. For the Cowboys, it’ll be about not messing up, and hoping Aaron Rodgers is still not healthy when the Green Bay Packers come to play them in three weeks.