Marion Barber got things rolling in the second quarter with an 18-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1, while Terrell Owens scored two second-half touchdowns to lead Dallas to a 45-35 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night.
Dallas (1-0) held a one-point lead at halftime which was hardly enough to feel comfortable, but the Cowboys came back to score 28 points in the second half to pull away for the win.
Tony Romo threw for a career-high 345 yards and four touchdowns, plus ran for another score, as the Cowboys opened the Phillips era by matching the most points scored the last four years under Bill Parcells.
Dallas needed them all, though, because the Phillips 3-4 defense gave up 438 yards and lots of big plays, turning a potential blowout into a nail-biter. The Cowboys were up by only a field goal when Hurd took a slant and turned it into the game-breaking score with 3:03 left.
"How about my offense, huh?" Phillips said with a laugh at the start of his postgame news conference.
Dallas was among the league's top offenses last year, with Barber running for the most TDs in the NFC and Owens catching the most scoring passes in the NFL. New offensive coordinator Jason Garrett proved he hasn't messed with a good thing by calling plays that led to touchdowns on five of six drives -- from Barber's dazzling dash in the second quarter to a 47-yarder by Owens early in the fourth quarter.
Considering that left the Cowboys up by 16 and the Giants had lost both sack leader Osi Umenyiora and new starting running back Brandon Jacobs to knee injuries, it would've been understandable if national TV viewers headed for bed.
Anyone who did, however, missed Eli Manning proving to Tiki Barber and the rest of his critics that he's got plenty of leadership ability.
Manning drove 80 yards in nine plays, capping it with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Ward that got New York to 38-28 with 7:20 left. After botching a 2-point try -- and bruising his throwing shoulder on the play -- the Giants got the ball back on an interception, then Manning threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress. It was their third TD connection of the night and it pulled New York to 38-35 with 4:09 left.
But Romo came back with a quick score of his own, the long, blitz-beating touchdown to Hurd, a second-year receiver in because of an injury to Terry Glenn.
Manning was 28-of-41 for 312 yards and four touchdowns with an interception. Burress caught eight passes for 144 yards.
"No matter how you lose it, it's a loss," coach Tom Coughlin said. "It hurts."
Romo was 15-of-24. Tight end Jason Witten had six catches for 116 yards and a touchdown. Owens caught only three passes, but scored on two of them.
"It was good to see we were able to put up so many points and keep attacking," Romo said.
The Cowboys might need to keep scoring to prop up their defense.
Cornerback Terence Newman missed the game with a foot problem that could linger and linebacker Greg Ellis isn't back from an Achilles' tear from last year. Then, in the first quarter, Dallas lost nose tackle Jason Ferguson for the season because of a torn bicep. The team initially called it an elbow problem.
The good news for the D: Newman's replacement, Jacques Reeves, had an interception and Ferguson's replacement, Jay Ratliff, had a sack.
"We would definitely love to cut some of those yards down," linebacker Bradie James said. "We have some things we have to correct, [but] we came out with a win."
New York started strong, silencing a sellout crowd swishing "Wade's Warriors" towels when Manning threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Burress on the third snap. But the Giants flubbed the extra point.
Dallas was down 6-3 and facing fourth-and-1 from the New York 18 when Phillips made his first big decision as coach of the Cowboys -- opting to go for a first down instead of a short, tying field goal.
The ball went to Barber and all he did was shake a defender at the line, bounce outside, shove away a second defender, then dive headfirst toward the end zone from around the 5. A third defender hit Barber, flipping him over the goal line for the go-ahead score.
Cameras caught Phillips' smiling widely and throwing a soft uppercut. The reaction would be seen several more times, like after the touchdown pass to Witten that stretched the lead to 17-6, Owens' first touchdown -- a diving one-hander -- to open the second half, and Romo dancing in from 9 yards for the first TD rushing of his career.
"This is going to be the nature of our team," Owens said. "It's a good starting point to where we need to go."
Romo, Cowboys Blow Past New York
CowboysHQ Top Stories
How Romo Can 'Massage' His Way To TradeHow Tony Romo Can 'Massage' His Cowboys Contract Into A Trade
CowboysHQYesterday at 2:17 AM
Cowboys StarCAST: Jaylon's Gear, Jerry's WallCowboys StarCAST: Looking Inside Jaylon Smith's Footwear And Looking Inside Jerry Jones' Wallet
CowboysHQThursday at 8:11 AM
Cowboys 7-Round Mock V1: Cornering the EdgeWith the Senior Bowl behind us and the National Scouting Combine squarely ahead, it’s Mock Draft time. In this case, it’s my first Dallas Cowboys 7-round mock draft.
CowboysHQWednesday at 5:05 PM
Cowboys Blueprint Part 1: Navigating Cap HellOur Dallas Cowboys Offseason Blueprint, Part 1: Navigating 'Cap Hell'
CowboysHQWednesday at 4:26 AM