Five thoughts on Cowboys’ loss to Giants

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys were down 23-0 and rallied to score 24 unanswered points. But it was not enough, as they lost to the New York Giants 29-24 Sunday at Cowboys Stadium.
Here are my five thoughts on the Cowboys dropping to 3-4 on the season.
1.) It’s amazing how the Cowboys can toy with their fan base. One minute they look like the worst team in the league and 30 minutes later they have you believing they’re a playoff contender. While Sunday’s game came down to the final seconds, it’s still a significant divisional loss. Jason Garrett can talk about how his team fought back and played hard all he wants, but there’s no excuse for an NFL team to continuously start games as poorly as the Cowboys have. That certainly doesn’t seem like the mark of a team “evolving” into a contender.
2.) The most memorable moment of the first half came early in the second quarter and it had nothing to do with a play on the field. Cowboy fans, who voice their displeasure with Jerry Jones via social media sites, comments on blogs and on sports talk radio shows, sounded their disapproval for the Cowboys owner and general manager by booing him in his $1.2 billion stadium. After falling behind 23-0, Jones was shown on the big screen in an advertisement for breast cancer awareness. Several players also spoke in the ad on the jumbo-tron but each time Jones’ face appeared, his words were drown out by boos. There’s no doubt that the man who invited folks to watch his team kick the Giants’ butts heard the reaction loud and clear.
3.) You can’t compare Tony Romo to any other quarterback in the game. There is no other signal-caller that has the ability to reach the lows and highs that Romo does, and all were showcased against the Giants. After tossing three interceptions in the first half, Romo rallied in the final two quarters, rushing for a score and throwing for another. While not all of the interceptions were his fault, he wasn’t close to his best, overthrowing several open receivers. Romo can keep the Cowboys in almost any game, but he can also easily fumble away a sure victory. He’s undoubtedly exciting, but I don’t see how he can have the amazing ups and downs and still deliver the consecutive playoff victories needed to win a Super Bowl.
4.) The result doesn’t show it but the Cowboys defense was outstanding against one of the league’s most potent offenses. Had it not been for the four turnovers by Romo and Co. in the first half it’s unlikely the Giants would’ve scored 23 points. Despite the short fields in the first and second quarters, the defense remained strong, holding New York to three field goals. Jones invested a first-round pick (Morris Claiborne) and $50.1 million (Brandon Carr) on upgrading the cornerback position. Like the season opener, the investment looks like a good one. The NFL’s leading wide receiver, Victor Cruz, was held to only two catches for 23 yards and Eli Manning was limited to a season-low 192 yards. Rob Ryan’s group did their part.
5.) Tony Romo threw 62 passes and 38 of them went to Miles Austin and Jason Witten. Austin and Romo worked together one-on-one for at least 10 minutes about an hour before the game, throwing passes and talking about what appeared to be routes. It didn’t seem like much at the time but it appeared the two were preparing for a big afternoon. Romo targeted Austin 11 times in the first half and 16 times total. It was obvious from the start that Romo was going to count on his most reliable receivers, Austin and Witten (22 targets), in the biggest game of the season. The trio played well, but Sunday showed that the Cowboys can’t get to where they want without Dez Bryant. If they’re going to reach the playoffs, Bryant will need to start playing complete games.

Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota