Three games in 12 days. Two within just five. Four of the final six on the road. This was just the way the Cowboys wanted to start their toughest stretch of the season.
In an old-fashioned, hard-nosed NFC East showdown, Dallas came-from-behind to defeat the rival New York Giants, 31-28, on the road in front of a prime-time national television audience. And in the process, once again showed they are a playoff-caliber team.
Through most of the first half, Dallas simply had no answer for Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., as the Giants scored on each of their first three possessions, two of which were extended 80-yard drives, with a 66-yard series throw in as well.
But much like they did against St. Louis in Week 3, when they fell behind 21-0 but came back to win 34-31, the Cowboys stayed in the fight, adjusted and found a way to get the victory.
The Cowboys were outplayed on the stat sheet, as the Giants racked up 417 yards of total offense, earning 27 first downs and dominating the time of possession, 35:07 to 24:13. Dallas struggled on defense for most of the day as Manning threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns with the rookie receiver Beckham hauling in 10 catches for 146 yards and two of those scores.
But offensively, the Cowboys were able to get the job done in the end. Behind a dominating line, Tony Romo outperformed Manning with four touchdown tosses, completing 18-of-26 passes for 275 yards. Dez Bryant found the end zone twice and finished with 86 yards receiving while Cole Beasley surprised all with two catches for 66 yards and a touchdown as well.
On the ground, DeMarco Murray continued his success, rushing for 121 yards on 24 carries, the 10th time in 11 games this season that he's cracked the century mark.
It took awhile for the Cowboys to get rolling, though. Manning and Beckham were virtually unstoppable early as they connected eight times for 125 yards through the first two quarters, the receiver putting on a show with several highlight reel catches, including what could be the catch of the year. After securing a relatively routine pass from 3 yards out for the Giants' first score, Beckham got his team on the board again with a 43-yard touchdown that saw him leap, stretch his right arm out behind him and somehow grab the ball one-handed before falling into the end zone … all after Brandon Carr actually interfered with him.
But the Cowboys, having already picked up three points from a 38-yard field goal by Dan Bailey earlier, responded to Beckham's second score with a touchdown of their own. Murray ran the ball five times for 29 yards, but the big blow came when Lance Dunbar took a screen pass 26 yards down to the New York 7. That led to a shovel pass to Jason Witten coming across the line of scrimmage, Dallas only down 14-10.
When the Giants then went up by another touchdown it came with a little controversy. Running back Andre Williams powered off right tackle and in the midst of a Cowboys gang tackle appeared to have the ball stripped by Barry Church, the fumble recovered by Dallas. But officials on the field ruled that Williams was already down and after head coach Jason Garrett threw the challenge flag, there apparently wasn't enough video evidence to overrule the call.
Given the ball back, Williams then scored on the ensuing play, the Giants taking a 21-10 lead that would hold until halftime.
Following the rough start, however, the Cowboys defense finally started to show some life, sacking Manning three times in the Giants' final two possessions of the second quarter, and then forcing three-and-outs on New York's first two series of the second half. Dallas then narrowed the score to 20-17 when Romo found Beasley in the middle of the field, the receiver racing to the left sideline and outrunning the defense for a 45-yard touchdown, his first of the season.
And then it was the Cowboys' turn to catch a bit of a break. The Giants again went on a lengthy march, and on third-and-2 at the Dallas 30, Beckham picked up the first down and was hit by Church as he was going out of bounds. Initially, one official called the Dallas safety for a personal foul, but he was overruled by his peers and the flag was picked up.
Two plays later, Manning had receiver Preston Parker wide open over the middle, but threw high to his target, the ball tipped by Parker and into the arms of Church, who took the interception back 45 yards to the Dallas 48.
With the gift, the Cowboys capitalized with Romo waiting for Bryant to come open deep down the right side, connecting on a 31-yard score, the Cowboys now enjoying their first lead of the night, 24-21.
It didn't last long. Midway through the fourth quarter, New York took over at its own 7-yard line with 9:12 left in the game and proceeded to go the distance, eating up 6:12 of clock with 14 plays, the last a 1-yard pass to Robinson that put the Giants back on top, 28-24.
But three minutes was plenty of time for Romo. With the offensive line simply overpowering its opponent, the Cowboys quickly worked the 80 needed yards in less than two minutes, Beasley coming up big again with a 21-yard catch to the New York 36. On the two final plays of the series, Romo had all day in the pocket, first hitting Bryant on an 8-yard route and then finding Bryant again in the back of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown, Dallas with the advantage for goo, 31-28.[embeddedad0]
And once Rolando McClain wrapped up Rashad Jennings on fourth-and-2 just short of the markers, a play originally called a first down but overturned after video review, the Cowboys had their victory.
With the win, Dallas improved to 8-3 on the season, setting up a showdown with the 8-3 Eagles for first place in the NFC East on Thanksgiving Day.