Giants (2-0) and tied for second in the NFC East with the Eagles (losers on Sunday) and Redskins (winners on Sunday), hurt so bad. They nearly beat the team considered the best in the NFC despite themselves. They lost to the team considered the NFC East favorites because of themselves.
Blame them all, every single one of them.
For the second straight game, the tackling was atrocious.
While the defense rose to the occasion to force the Giants to kick four field goals, all inside the red zone, it's a good thing the club hired four guys looking like secret service dudes to stand on the midfield carpet covering the blue Cowboys Star that was to be unveiled right before kickoff. Because the way the Cowboys covered all night long, that star would have been exposed long before warm-ups had been completed.
The corners were whipped in man coverage - all of them: Newman, Orlando Scandrick, Mike Jenkins. They were whipped so often they were apologizing afterward.
"It was a very humbling night, a night I won't forget," Scandrick said. "I made some foolish mistakes I never thought I'd make myself. I didn't sleep last night, didn't talk to anyone in the family."
"He didn't play good, I didn't play good - hey, they beat us," Newman said of himself and Scandrick, who got the start Sunday night in this rotating right corner system.
And then there was Romo. His 41st NFL regular-season start was his worst, or at least his 29.6 QB rating on the heels of the opening 140.6 was. So would suggest his career-low for a four-quarter performance 127 yards passing. That's total. So would his career-low 13 completions in a four-quarter performance. And his 44.7 completion percentage is the second lowest of his career.
At least the three interceptions only matched the second most of his career, although in that game when he threw a career-high five he brought the Cowboys back from way behind to win.
So that is why Romo was sitting on a chair outside the Cowboys locker room after most of the players had filed out as if he didn't have a friend in the world. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett stopped by for a few words on his way out. Yet he sat there silently, waiting for a golf cart to whisk him away.
Romo could only wish the memory of his contribution to this two-point defeat could make as clean an escape.
"We can't win a game if I make mistakes like that," Romo said. "I know why I made a couple of them, and when I look back I was stupid."
He would go on.
"We played good football tonight, and I cost us," he said.
"That's why it hurts so much when you lose, when you didn't play up to what you expect from yourself."
On the first interception Romo tried to do more than he should have. The Giants switched their defensive call at the last second. He realized the slant to Williams wasn't going to work. So he was hoping if he threw to a spot Williams would stop for the catch. He didn't. He ran through the slant route and the ball was way over and behind him, the easiest interception and return for touchdown in Bruce Johnson's career.
The second he threw behind Witten on a crossing route, appearing to be a harmless incompletion. But Monster Vision doesn't lie. The 60-yard replay clearly showed the ball bouncing off the heel of Witten's foot, never touching the ground before caroming into the hands of Phillips for what turned out to be the easiest interception of his career once instant replay confirmed the pick.
And the third, with the Cowboys leading 24-20 and first-and-10 at the Giants 46, was the worst. The Giants were playing a single-safety high formation with Phillips high. The Cowboys tried to run Hurd on a deep crossing route. Hurd beat his guy, and Romo went for it all. But there was Phillips sitting back there, picking the ball at the three.
"I threw the ball thinking nobody was back there," said Romo, figuring whatever the Cowboys called would have attracted Phillips attention. "He was hiding behind someone. But once again, I got to find him (before I throw that pass)."
But look, as I said, it was all their fault. Phillips only returned that pick to the Giants 27, so not exactly putting the Cowboys in a hole. Sort of like