"That's a tough one; very difficult," Jim Fassel said. "It hurts badly right now. I'm proud of my guys the way they kept fighting back."
But it wasn't enough. The Cowboys, on their second possession of the OT period, moved 51 yards in eight plays for the win.
"It was a fun game to play, but it's no fun to lose," Kerry Collins said.
Big Blue stormed back from a 29-14 fourth-quarter deficit and seemingly had the game won when Matt Bryant split the uprights from 30 yards out with 11 seconds to play. But Bryant went from hero to goat in a matter of seconds. His subsequent squib kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Cowboys the ball at their own 40-yard line. Cowboys QB Quincy Carter found WR Antonio Bryant out of bounds for a 26-yard gain, setting up Cundiff's career-long 52-yarder at the buzzer to send the game into the extra session.
Fassel was upset with Bryant, stating that it should have been a "deep middle squib" kickoff. "I didn't plan on (them) having the ball at the 40-yard line with no time off the clock," an exhausted Fassel said.
Judging from how the majority of the game unfolded most would believe that the Giants should have signed an offensive lineman or two this off-season. New York's new OL failed miserably under Monday Night Football's bright lights as Big Blue was being dominated by Bill Parcells' Cowboys in front of 78,907 rain-soaked fans at Giants Stadium.
"It all starts with the offensive line," Fassel said. "If we can't block it, then we can't run it or throw it."
The fact that the defense couldn't tackle or cover anyone on Dallas' roster to save their lives didn't help matters either. Quincy Carter played probably the best game of his life, completing 25-of-40 passes for 321 yards.
His counterpart, Collins, hadn't looked this bad in quite some time. After all, it was only three regular-season games ago when Collins posted a perfect QB rating (158.3) in Indianapolis. His QB rating at halftime? A comical 10.1.
But Collins (21-of-51, 265) and the offense rebounded, storming to 18 fourth-quarter points. "Kerry was magnificent," Fassel said. "He hung in there very well; he started getting better protection."
But in the end, they couldn't get it done, losing five yards in three OT plays.
Much of New York's early failings came courtesy of the inexperienced front five.
As expected, LT Luke Petitgout missed the game due to his back injury so New York unveiled its revamped offensive line. Two rookies - LT Jeff Roehl and C Wayne Lucier - were thrust into the starting five, joining fellow rookie RG David Diehl, LG Rich Seubert and RT Chris Bober, who shifted from center.
Things started well for Big Blue. Nickel back Ralph Brown saw the play unfold from the get-go. Carter never took his eyes off intended receiver Joey Galloway. The New York defense initially lined up in man-to-man, then dropped into zone. Brown was in perfect position to pick off Carter's pass and did just that, easily gliding 29 yards into the end zone. Brown made the pick and never looked back, giving the Giants a 7-0 lead.
But the wheels came off quickly after that, as Carter scrambled for an 8-yard run to tie the game. Barber's fumble, which was recovered by Dallas LB Dat Nguyen, led to the first of Cundiff's seven field goals.
Then Collins, who was hit by Dallas DE Greg Ellis, threw a terrible pass right to Cowboys LB Alshermond Singleton, who returned the gift 41 yards for a TD and a 20-7 halftime lead.
New York attempted to get back into the game early in the second half, but that threat didn't last long. The Giants got a break, gaining 38 yards on a questionable pass interference call on Dallas S Roy Williams. Two plays after Jeremy Shockey inexplicably dropped a sure TD, Ike Hilliard came through with a five-yard scoring catch.
But the Cowboys took off from there again, scoring compliments of two more Cundiff field goals, extending to a 29-14 lead in the process. Then the lights came on for New York. Collins, who struggled for much of the first three quarters, all of a sudden couldn't miss. The O-line, which was sieve-like to this point, became a brick wall.
With 9:54 to play, Shockey atoned for his earlier drop by catching a 1-yard TD pass.
Collins then moved the troops 64 yards in only three plays, the final two which were a 38-yard strike down the middle to Hilliard and a 20-yard Toomer TD with 6:20 to play.
Down two points, Big Blue opted to go for a two-point conversion. After the first two attempts were kept alive by pass interference calls on Dallas, Barber walked in from inches away to knot things up.
But Bryant's miscue overshadowed his potential game-winner and the Giants were cooked.
* Giants Record: 1-1
* This time last year: 1-1
* Matt Bryant's 30-yard FG with 11 seconds to play was upstaged by Billy Cundiff's 52-yarder at the buzzer and 25-yarder in OT.
* Amani Toomer became New York's all-time leading receiver, catching seven passes for 126 yards. * Micheal Barrow (19 tackles) and Dhani Jones (15) led the way defensively.
* The Cowboys lead the all-time series between the teams, 49-31-2. But the Giants have won five of the last seven meetings. New York is 15-12 against the Cowboys in Giants Stadium.
* Next up for New York is a trip to the nation's capital for a clash with the surprising 2-0 Redskins. Kickoff at FedEx Field is set for 4:05 p.m.
"It is going to be a bitter pill to swallow, but the teams that end up at the end on top are the teams that know how to get through it." - Jim Fassel
"I feel fortunate to win. It would have been very disappointing to lose. It was one of the greatest games I've ever been involved in." - Bill Parcells