Published November 20, 2014
The Dallas Cowboys are no longer alone atop the NFC East.
Instead of building a two-game division lead, the Cowboys blew a 12-point lead over the final 5½ minutes and lost 37-34 Sunday night to drop into a tie with the New York Giants, who snapped a four-game losing streak to get even with three games left.
"This one is going to hurt," Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said. "This one is going to sting."
Just another bad memory for Romo and the Cowboys at home against the Giants.
"Very disappointing. Major game for both teams, my hats off to the Giants," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said outside the locker room before walking off without taking questions. "We are very disappointed and we certainly know that we've got our work cut out for us."
New York (7-6) has won all three of its games at Cowboys Stadium, including the first regular-season game in another Sunday night game two years ago. Then there was last year's game, when Romo broke his collarbone and didn't play again.
This time, the Cowboys might be looking back at this loss as the one that cost them another division title — and maybe knocked them out of the playoffs — if they don't recover.
"It's like playoffs for us. It's sudden death. We have to win the next three to give ourselves a chance," linebacker Bradie James said. "This was a big one. We all talked about being in first place. We knew what was on the line. But those guys made one more play than we did."
Dallas plays Saturday night at Tampa Bay, then is home against Philadelphia on Christmas Eve before the regular-season finale New Year's Day at MetLife Stadium. The Giants have games left against Washington and the Jets before the home game against the Cowboys.
Cowboys sensational rookie DeMarco Murray won't play any of those games. He broke his right ankle and sustained a high sprain when his foot got twisted under a defender while being tackled at the end of an 8-yard run in the first quarter. Murray left the locker room on crutches, staring down with a hoodie pulled down over his head.
"It appears that he's done for the season," coach Jason Garrett said.
Even after Brandon Jacobs' 1-yard run and D.J. Ware's 2-point conversion with 46 seconds left, the Cowboys had another chance.
Bailey kicked the ball through the uprights, but New York had used its last timeout just before the ball was snapped. When Bailey tried again, Jason Pierre-Paul blocked the kick and the ball fluttered through the air and nowhere close to the goalpost.
"I'm not really sure (what happened). ... They're a big middle rush team. Your guess is as good as mine," Bailey said. "I felt like I made good contact with the ball."
Pierre-Paul, filling in for injured defensive end Osi Umenyiora, sacked Romo in the first quarter for a safety and also forced a fumble just before halftime that led to a field goal.
The Cowboys lost their second straight game, both in dramatic, frustrating fashion that involved missed kicks by Bailey, who'd been so good for so long this season.
"We have to process this game and put it behind us quickly," Garrett said.
Eli Manning was 27 of 47 for 400 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once, on a tipped pass, and it led to a touchdown that appeared to put the game away for Dallas when Dez Bryant was wide open for a 50-yard catch.
But Manning came back with a pair of touchdown drives. The first went 80 yards in eight plays, capped by an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jake Ballard.
The Giants then held Dallas to a three-and-out. Romo, who had thrown touchdown passes on the two previous possessions, missed a wide-open Austin deep on third down. Romo said Austin, in his first game back after missing four with a right hamstring injury, lost the ball in the lights.
The Cowboys punted, and it was a short one. Then the Dallas defense had two penalties that helped scoot along a drive capped by Jacobs' scoring plunge.
For Dallas, Bailey's closing segment was all too similar to a week earlier, with a twist.
Bailey had a 49-yard kick at the end of regulation against Arizona, and had kicked the ball through the uprights for the apparent game-winner when officials signaled that Garrett had called timeout. Bailey then missed, and the Cowboys lost in overtime.
Bailey had two field goals against the Giants, both 49-yarders. The second put Dallas up 20-15 midway through the third quarter.
Romo finished 21 of 31 for 321 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Laurent Robinson had four catches for 137 yards, including a 9-yarder for his eighth TD in seven games.
Tight end John Phillips' 12-yarder for his first career TD in the first quarter pushed Romo over 20,000 yards passing in his career — and made it 7-5 after the Giants had gotten the safety and a field goal.
Jones ran 16 times for 106 yards, and caught six passes for 31 yards.
The Cowboys have lost six straight Sunday night games. Romo also continued his trend of winning in November (4-0), then losing in December (0-2).
"We need to get a win next week and get back going," Romo said. "You have to put your head down and keep playing."