GAME RECAP: Offense Improves, But Turnovers Lead to 27-20 Cowboys Defeat

The more things change, the more they stay the same?

Although the Cowboys came off their bye week with a new quarterback behind center, a new left guard, the return of another pass rusher and talk of a new running back handling the carries, the results were the same as Dallas fell to the Giants, 27-20.

In the end, it doesn't matter who's on the field if you can't hold onto the ball. The Cowboys turned the ball over four times, all in the second half, while again failing to record a turnover themselves, the disparity leading to their fourth straight defeat.

The poor play overshadowed what was a breakout performance from a player that some thought, if anything, would see a reduced role against the Giants, that being Darren McFadden. Speculation during the bye week was that Christine Michael would see more action, potentially taking carries away from McFadden.

Instead, after starter Joseph Randle left the game in the first quarter with a back strain, it was McFadden who shouldered the load. He finished the day with 152 rushing yards on 29 carries, his first 100-yard game since the 2013 season and his most since rushing for 164 yards during the 2008 campaign.

With a running game that rushed for 98 yards in the first half, the Cowboys put points on the board in three of their first four possessions in the game, and went into halftime with a 13-10 lead. It was McFadden who fittingly provided the lone touchdown for Dallas in the early going, powering in from one yard out.

In the end, the Cowboys would finish with 233 rushing yards and 460 yards of total offense, easily outdistancing the 289 produced by Eli Manning and the Giants offense.

But again, it was the turnovers that doomed Dallas. Matt Cassel took over the reins behind center and indeed brought a needed element to the Cowboys offense – the threat of a downfield attack. During the first half, in particular, he was solid, completing 11-of-16 passes for a 123 yards, which included a beautiful strike to Jason Witten for 35 yards.

But the case could be made that Cassel was also living somewhat dangerously, and it finally caught up with him, as he threw interceptions on each of the Cowboys' first three possessions of the third quarter.

The worst of those came on the team's opening drive after the break when Cassel tried to connect with Terrance Williams on the right sideline, only to see Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie pick off the pass and return it 58 yards for the touchdown.

That was then followed on the Cowboys' next series with Cassel tossing a lame duck floater toward the end zone, again to Williams. But he was well short on his throw, that leading to another pick, this time by safety Brandon Meriweather, and an eventual field goal that put the Giants up 20-13.

But again, with Cassel now running the offense, the Cowboys offense at least seemed to have a chance, seemed more dangerous. And he showed as much when he led the team on a nine play, 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter that tied the game, if only momentarily.

And during the series, he again showed that he brings an element that Brandon Weeden simply cannot provide. First he threw a perfect pass to Williams, who tiptoed on the sideline for a 21-yard pickup. That was followed immediately by Cassel throwing a 25-yard pass to the back right corner of the end zone where Devin Street made his own tiptoe catch for the score.

The chances for a victory were fleeting, though, as on the ensuing kickoff, former Cowboys Dwayne Harris came back to haunt his old team, returning the kick 100 yards for the deciding score. Then, perhaps in another display of how much Harris just might be missed, Cole Beasley muffed a punt with just under a minute left in the game, the Cowboys' hopes for one last rally put to rest.

With the loss, the Cowboys fell to 2-4 on the year, but are still in the hunt for the NFC East title. They'll now host the Seahawks at 3:25 p.m. next Sunday before then welcoming in division rival Philadelphia for a Sunday night showdown on Nov. 8.

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