Cowboys, Romo too resilient to fold against Giants
The Dallas Cowboys had to overcome the best touchdown catch of the NFL season and an 11-point halftime deficit in the Meadowlands. The Giants sent the message this wouldn't be a cakewalk when they marched for a touchdown on their first possession. For good measure, they added 14 points on their next two drives.
But this Cowboys team was too resilient to fold like so many times in the past. With a little help from Eli Manning in the second half, Dallas climbed back into the game and escaped with a 31-28 win. The Cowboys (8-3) and Eagles (8-3) will square off Thursday at AT&T Stadium. It's a tight turnaround for both teams, but it could've been so much worse for the Cowboys. A loss to the Giants would've put immense pressure on this team heading into games against Philadelphia and Chicago.
The Cowboys will give thanks for not having to face Odell Beckham Jr. again until next season. He was the best player on the field in the first half...and it wasn't close. His three-fingered catch early in the second quarter will be shown for years to come. With Brandon Carr having already interfered with him on the play, Beckham reached back with his inside hand and somehow snatched the ball before bringing it into his body. He single-handedly destroyed the Cowboys' secondary for much of the first half, Dallas' defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli wisely assigned two players to him in the second half.
The Giants converted 8-of-9 third downs in the first half. Manning completed 11 of his first 12 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He looked a lot like the guy who's torched the Cowboys so many times over the years. The Giants caught a break after running back Andre Williams was ruled down by contact near the Cowboys' goal line in the first half. Safety Barry Church clearly stripped the ball from Williams, but the call was upheld because replays were inconclusive. Williams scored on the next play to give the Giants a 21-10 lead at halftime.
The Cowboys had a 39-yard completion to Dez Bryant wiped out early in the third quarter when left tackle Tyron Smith was called for holding. But Marinelli's unit finally got a foothold in this game. The Cowboys pulled to within 21-17 when Cole Beasley made a catch near the first-down marker and then bolted for a 45-yard touchdown. Beasley ran a perfect route to get separation from Giants cornerback Jayron Hosley.
The best sign for the Cowboys' offense was a very spry Romo. He extended several plays with his legs, including a touchdown pass to Bryant that gave the Cowboys a 24-21 lead. Romo was 18 of 26 for 275 yards and four touchdowns. He clearly benefited from the bye week after having to play through significant back pain against Jacksonville. And after the defense gave up a 93-yard scoring drive to the Giants, Romo calmly led the Cowboys down the field.
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His offensive line was so sharp that Romo had seven seconds in the pocket on two different plays during the game-winning drive. One was a completion to Jason Witten across the middle. The other one was a 13-yard touchdown pass to Bryant. It was the 23rd fourth-quarter comeback of Romo's career. He did leave a minute on the clock for Manning, but a first-down ruling on a fourth-and-2 pass to Rashad Jennings was overturned on a challenge. Replays showed Rolando McClain stopping Jennings short of the marker.
A large Cowboys contingent in the Meadowlands roared as the call was announced. This is not going to go smoothly, but it would take an all-out disaster to secure a fourth consecutive 8-8 season.
OK, forget I mentioned that last part.
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