It’s hard to imagine a more heartbreaking loss than the one the Giants suffered on Sunday night, but in the end they have no one to blame but themselves.
Leading 23-20 with 1:43 remaining in the game, Eli Manning took the ball under center on 3rd-and-1 from inside the 2-yard line and after a play-action fake he inexplicably heaved the ball out of bounds to stop the clock and give Dallas second-life.
Instead of running the ball to either ice the game or at the very least run the clock down inside of 40 seconds, offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo elected to go for the gusto and tried a passing play to catch the Cowboys defense off-guard. Head coach Tom Coughlin didn’t overrule the playcall, and even running back Rashad Jennings told reporters postgame that the coaching staff told him not to score on the first two plays inside the Dallas 5-yard line. Josh Brown would convert a 19-yard field goal to extend Big Blue’s advantage to six points.
A complete and utter breakdown left the door slightly ajar for Tony Romo to try and conjure up some late fourth quarter magic and escape AT&T Stadium with an improbable victory.
Trailing 26-20 with 1:29 left, Romo dinked and dunked the ball 61 yards on five plays all the way down to the Giants 11-yard line. On 3rd-and-2, Romo bobbled the snap, scooped it off the turf and snapped a pass into the hands of tight end Jason Witten for the game-winning touchdown with only seven seconds remaining in the contest.
Placekicker Dan Baily booted through the extra point and Manning had one last gasp to avoid a devastating defeat. On the final play of the game, Manning found Shane Vereen who scampered across midfield before lateralling the ball to Preston Parker who was taken down at the 42-yard line.
The Giants were on the verge of pulling off one of the more surprising upsets of Week 1, but poor clock management and suspect playcalling quickly derailed their chances of leaving the Lone Star state with a win.
New York was able to force three turnovers including a 57-yard fumble return for a touchdown by cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie with 1:10 remaining in the first half. On the Cowboys ensuing possession Linebacker Uani Unga hauled in a pick after the ball deflected wide off the outstretched hands of Witten and returned it to the Dallas 21-yard line with 55 seconds remaining in the half. Cornerback Trumaine McBride intercepted Romo with 8:09 left in the fourth quarter and returned it 20-yards to inside the 1-yard line.
The most controversial call of the game came with 6.24 left in the game with Rogers-Cromartie defending Cole Beasley in the end zone as the Giants cornerback was flagged for a pass interference penalty to set the Cowboys up at the 1-yard line. Romo found Witten on the next play for score to narrow the gap to three.
Big Blue’s secondary capitalized on a trio of Cowboys miscues, but when it was all said and done Dallas’ quarterback finished with 356 passing yards and three touchdowns to produce a 85.9 passer rating.
Despite a strong outing from a beleaguered secondary, the Cowboys won their fifth straight meeting over the Giants in dramatic fashion.
Cowboys WR Dez Bryant suffered a broken foot in the 27-26 win Sunday night and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.