The Dallas Cowboys have overcome 21-point deficits to win games twice in their long and storied history. They have never scored 24 unanswered points to win a game, and following Sunday afternoon's 29-24 loss to the New York Giants ... well, they still haven't.
The Cowboys haven't won after overcoming such a deficit, that is. That Tony Romo's team scored 24 unanswered points in the second and third quarters of the game will tell you just what an exercise in frustration the rest of the game was. It took the Cowboys allowing a 23-0 lead by the Giants before Dallas' furious comeback, and a very close call to essentially end the game, before the G-Men could walk out of Cowboys Stadium with their fourth straight win in Jerry Jones' palace.
One thing's for sure -- at the half, this was a 23-10 whitewash in the Giants' favor. Tony Romo completed 13 of 26 passes for 187 yards and three picks in the first 30 minutes of the game, and even when Romo's offense was able to establish a few drives in the second quarter, this looked like business as usual for what has been the NFL's most frustrating team over the last few seasons. Dallas was unable to take advantage of an unusually tepid start from Eli Manning, who completed just 8 of 18 passes of his own.
In the end, Romo had to sell out his inconsistent running game in the second half. He threw 62 passes, completing 36, and threw for a career-high 437 yards. Tight end Jason Witten had a marvelous day, bringing in 18 receptions for 167 yards. It was the most receptions for any tight end in a game in NFL history, and the third-most overall for any player at any position.
It wasn't enough. Nothing was enough after Dallas' early mistakes. Two Lawrence Tynes field goals in the fourth quarter, and Dallas' inability to put up a single point in the same 15-minute period, doomed the squad.
"There's a lot to learn from this game," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said afterward. "In terms of ball security, but there's also a lot to be positive about in terms of how we played. We just have to clean up the things that aren't helping us win games, and still build on all the positive things that did happen."
With 16 seconds left in the game, Romo threw to Bryant on a fly pattern from the New York 37-yard line, Bryant appeared to catch the ball for the game-winning score, but after further review, the touchdown was overturned. In a crushingly close occurrence, Bryant's hand went out of bounds just before his body hit the turf. Actually, it wasn't Bryant's entire hand -- the Cowboys lost this game, quite literally, by a fingertip.
Romo had three more chances for the deciding score. He threw a 10-yard completion to Witten, an incompletion to Miles Austin over the deep middle, and ended his day by overthrowing the entire end zone.
"I must say it's been a long time since I've seen three plays in 10 seconds," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said. "That was an incredible thing that happened there."
The Giants, who completely disappeared after dominating the Cowboys early, pulled out the win and maintained their lead in the NFC East, but nobody will be celebrating this win on the plane home. It was more an escape than a victory.
The 6-2 Giants face the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium next Sunday. The 3-4 Cowboys travel to Atlanta to take on the undefeated Falcons. This week would be a very good time for the 'Boys to eliminate their inability to capitalize on splash plays by scheduling little disasters at the worst possible times.
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