He dropped Chrebet at the Cowboys' 8-yard line, a yard short of a first down on a fourth-down play with 2:29 remaining that extinguished the Jets' last-gasp comeback effort.
Finally, the Cowboys could exhale.
"We knew on third and fourth down they go to Chrebet," said Hunter, who had been criticized for his poor play in the first two games.
"He's a real shifty guy. I pretty much knew he was coming to me. I was in a good position, and I just made a play on the ball."
The Cowboys didn't allow a touchdown. They didn't allow a 100-yard rusher. They didn't allow a 300-yard passer. And they didn't lose the lead.
The Cowboys blew seven games when they were leading or tied heading into the fourth quarter last season. They let a 15-point, fourth-quarter
lead slip away against the Giants two weeks ago before winning 35-32 in overtime.
"We need to develop an attitude to know how to play with a lead," Cowboys linebacker Dexter Coakley said. "Once we get a lead, we need to
just turn the heat up even more and get a victory."
The Cowboys got the lead by stopping running back Curtis Martin and forcing two Jets turnovers. The Jets had not hid the fact that they wanted to establish their running game against the Cowboys. They had entered Sunday's game with only 143 rushing yards, fewer than 25 running backs in the NFL.
So 10 of the Jets' first 17 offensive plays Sunday were runs by Martin. He gained only 31 yards.
"We had news clippings up on our board back in Dallas," Cowboys safety Roy Williams said. "That was a big motivator, them talking about how they were going to use Curtis and run him, and he's going to get 25 or 30 carries. We took that as a challenge."
Martin finished with 21 carries for 64 yards, with a long run of only 9 yards. He also lost his first fumble since a playoff loss to the
Oakland Raiders in 2001.
Martin's fumble, which was forced by Williams and recovered by Darren Woodson, and Santana Moss' fumble, which was forced by Eric Ogbogu and recovered by Al Singleton, were turned into 14 points by the Cowboys' offense.
"It shows once you create turnovers what can happen," Cowboys defensive tackle La'Roi Glover said.
The Cowboys also showed themselves that they could hold a lead. "We played with a chip on our shoulders," Glover said. "Pete Hunter made a play in the fourth quarter that was huge, and a few other guys made some huge plays for us to win us the ballgame. We'll take it this way anytime."
A Look Back at Sunday's Win
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