East Rutherford, N.J. – The game was supposed to be the Giants’ Super Bowl, and certainly given what was on the line as well as the yapping, one might have thought the game would have been played with a bit more intensity.
Instead, New York turned in a super dud, falling to Dallas 24-21 thanks to a late-game winning drive engineered by Tony Romo, cumulating in a 35-yard field goal, by kicker Dan Bailey.
“If you have followed our team, he has made so many big kicks at the end of the ballgame for us to win games as the time is expiring, in overtime. He has just done it over and over and over,” said Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.
“We knew we wanted to get inside the 30-yard line going in that direction. We felt he could make it from there. He’s just money.”
The Giants, who were without receiver Hakeem Nicks, struggled to get their passing game going as quarterback Eli Manning only completed 16 of 30 pass attempts for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
Half of Manning’s completions were to the wideouts, who couldn’t take advantage of a struggling Cowboys defensive secondary.
“Obviously Hakeem [Nicks] is one of our star players and you like to have all of your guys out there, but hopefully we get him back healthy so that he can help us down this stretch,” Manning said after the game.
The Giants managed just six points in the first half as their season-long issues with the red zone continued. Worse yet, both of the field goals by kicker Josh Brown came on drives that stalled inside of the Cowboys five-yard line.
Dallas got on the board first thanks to – what else? a Giants turnover. Manning completed a five-yard pass to receiver Victor Cruz along the Giants’ sideline, but cornerback Orlando Scandrick ripped it put of Cruz’s grasp, and safety Jeff Heath scooped it up and was off to the races for the 50-yard touchdown.
That was the ninth turnover returned for a touchdown by an opponent this season, and the fifth allowed by the Giants offense.
Also contributing to the Dallas scoring party was noted tight end Jason Witten, who caught both of Tony Romo’s touchdown receptions.
The Cowboys’ game-winning drive came after the Giants had tied the game on a 4-yard touchdown pass to receiver Louis Murphy and Andre Brown converted the two-point play.
With 4:45 left to play, Romo went to work, methodically picking apart the Giants defensive secondary that, thanks to the groin injury suffered by cornerback Trumaine McBride, had Antrel Rolle move into the slot cornerback spot while Terrell Thomas moved outside.
Romo proceeded to complete six of nine passes for 67 yards on that final drive, as he maneuvered his offense into field goal territory.
Bailey’s kick not only won the game, but also kicked any last remaining unrealistic hope that the Giants might have had of making the playoffs to the curb.
Dallas, who moved back to first place, now has the head-to-head tiebreaker as well as a 4-0 mark against division opponents, making it literally laughable for the Giants to even think about participating in the postseason.
“We’ve got five games left and we have to win every one,” said Manning. “That’s the only way that will possibly give us a chance. We don’t know if that’s going to be good enough, but that’s the only way.”
Unfortunately, there were other ways. The Giants just didn’t capitalize on them.