ARLINGTON, Texas – The postgame locker room was as jubilant and bubbly after any regular-season win that I can remember.
And that was despite the news that the heart and soul of this team will be out four to six weeks with a fracture in his foot.
But even the disappointing Dez Bryant injury couldn't deter these players and coaches from enjoying the upmost thrill of beating the Giants like they did. It was a classic game, and a classic comeback by the Cowboys. You could also call it a classic mistake by the Giants for giving Tony Romo so much time.
But in no way was this game a fluke. No, the Cowboys didn't steal a win from the Giants. If anything, they just became that kid who gave a Christmas present to his little brother – all wrapped up with a big bow on it – and then just decided to take it back and open it himself on Christmas Eve.
If the Giants gave this game away it was only after the Cowboys spent 58 minutes with the holiday spirit.
The Cowboys were clearly the better team Sunday night and probably should've won this game by 17 points. The defense was great nearly all night long. The special teams were getting the job done, and the offense was moving the ball.
But it was a weird bounce here, or a fumble and bad break there and before you knew it, the Giants went from the verge of a big hole to a commanding halftime lead. That's the way this NFL goes sometimes. The fumble by Cole Beasley was as quick a turnaround as you'll find. It's 6-3 Cowboys and they're driving before halftime, looking for a 10-point lead.
Then he fumbles, it's returned for a touchdown and then Romo throws an interception on the next drive after the pass was tipped up by Jason Witten. The Cowboys were fortunate it was only 13-6 at the half, but that's a 17-point swing in a matter of minutes.
And give these Giants credit because they must practice the tip-drill. Both interceptions Sunday night came off deflections, including the one in the fourth quarter that seemingly gave them too much of a lead.
But with Tony Romo, no lead is safe. He proved it again Sunday night, despite having no timeouts and more importantly, no Bryant. But the latter is something he'll have to get used to here in the next month or so with Bryant injured.
That might be prove to be a big factor here in the next few weeks, but it was a non-factor in the final quarter, especially on the last drive. That was Romo's moment to shine, and he didn't disappoint. I've covered this guy since he got here in 2003, and I can honestly say my favorite trait about Romo is his "I'm never out of it" mentality. I've seen it while he was playing golf. We've seen time and time again on the field, and you can even say it was evident throughout the early parts of his football career when he didn't get the scholarship to a big school or didn't get a real invite to the scouting combine or when he wasn't drafted.
Still, adversity has never bothered Romo, who just finds a way to keep plugging along.
Take the final play as the greatest example. Romo knows he's got probably two throws to the end zone and can't let any play end with a tackle in the middle of the field. So the ball basically gets rolled back to him on the shotgun snap, and he finds a way to keep his poise. He picks it up quickly enough to keep the play alive. And when in doubt, it's always going to be Witten on the receiving end. That's how it was on fourth-and-6 last season in the playoff win over the Lions, and that's the way it was twice here Sunday night in the fourth quarter.
Thanks to Romo and Witten, and a host of other players who rallied to get the job done with Dez out, the Cowboys found a way to win this game when it looked bleak.
But I'm always a little hesitant to say games like this will help the team moving forward. This win only helps in the standings, especially because it's a division win. But from a confidence standpoint, let's hope the Cowboys don't feel like getting down by 10 with eight minutes to go will always work out well. Obviously, comebacks like this are rare occurrences, but it should let this team know that the offense can be explosive, even without Dez in the lineup.
And defensively, it also shows this group can hold it together when their backs are firmly against the wall. That defensive stand in the final two minutes helped them win this game just as much as Romo, Witten, Beasley and Dunbar.
The better team won this game Sunday night, even if it took 59 minutes and 53 seconds to get there.