Confidence Building in Valley Ranch

The mood in the Cowboys' locker room early Tuesday morning was obvious. This team had just come back from sure defeat after blowing an 11-point 4th quarter lead. Call it a miracle, call it lucky, but most importanly, call it a win.

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells may have downplayed his return to New York in the days leading up to Monday night. However, there was no question of its importance moments after Billy Cundiff kicked a 25-yard field goal to give the Cowboys a miraculous 35-32 overtime victory.

Parcells stood by the door of the locker room and hand-slapped or hugged every player that walked in.

The emotion was fitting, considering the setting and the improbable ending. His greatest moments in coaching had come here at Giants Stadium during an eight-year run and two Super Bowl titles as the New York head man.

It goes without saying what a road victory would mean two games into his latest restoration project.

Midnight appeared to strike on this fairy tale in the form of the Cowboys' own downtrodden history when Giants kicker Matt Bryant made a 30-yard field goal with 11 seconds left.

However, no longer much-maligned Cowboys kicker Billy Cundiff's sixth field goal of the night, a career-long 52 yarder on the final play sent the game into overtime.

And his seventh with 5:56 seconds left in overtime gave him an NFL record and his team one of the greatest victories in franchise history.

Cundiff's seven field goals tied three other kickers in NFL history with seven field goals in a game, including former Cowboy Chris Boniol, who did it in 1996.

It took the emotion away from a raucous Giants crowd that had seen their team rally from a 29-14 fourth-quarter deficit with two touchdown passes by quarterback Kerry Collins and a two-point conversion by Tiki Barber.

From the way things started offensively, Parcells' much anticipated return to the Meadowlands had the makings of a nightmare.

Consider the Cowboys' first six plays from scrimmage.

The Cowboys opened with losses of two and three yards from Troy Hambrick, followed by a motion penalty from tackle Flozell Adams and an incomplete pass on third and 20.

The first play of their second series resulted in Giants cornerback Ralph Brown returning a Quincy Carter interception 29 yards for a touchdown.

And though receiver Zuriel Smith provided a spark with a 37-yard kickoff return, bad things seemed to continue when guard Larry Allen was flagged for illegal motion on the first play of the ensuing series.

For a team that was already low on confidence and not supposedly having the talent to overcome a bevy of miscues, it was a highly unexpected time for a turnaround.

But Carter, showing no mental letdown from the interception, got things going and produced the huge completion in overtime that set up Cundiff's game-winner.

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