EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones isn't going to say it himself, but he's not going to argue if you call Sunday's game-winning drive against New York a season-saver.
Facing a 15-point Giants rally to tie the game, Tony Romo led the Cowboys on a 14-play, 64-yard drive that ate up the final 4:45 of clock and allowed Dallas to kick a game-winning field goal.
Jones allowed the heroics may have saved his team's prospects in the season's final month.
"That's not a stretch. I'm going to let you say that – I'm not going to say it. But seriously, that's not a stretch," he said. "Our win, when you look at our season, when you look at what we've got ahead of us, to have to had come back from this loss – a division loss – as well as that it would reverse the record we've got, 5-6 instead of 6-5, there's no question it damages us."
It's slightly hard to believe the Cowboys have such a shaky hold on a playoff position, given the way they've played their division foes this year. The win gave Dallas a season sweep of the Giants and a 4-0 record in the NFC East – an envious position for any NFL squad.
With a 6-5 record and several staunch opponents remaining, though, Jones said he doesn't yet feel the Cowboys have an inside track – regardless of their resume.
"No I don't – no I don't at all … I see how close these other games are. You look up at those scores this afternoon and see what you're dealing with. You see what you're dealing with within the framework of a ballgame, and you know how close it gets," Jones said.
Winning streaks have been hard to come by for this team, that's for sure. The 24-21 win against the Giants puts the Cowboys one game above .500 for the fifth time this season. On the other four occasions, they have followed their success with a loss.
Thursday's Thanksgiving kickoff against the Raiders gives the Cowboys yet another chance to rectify that.
"We're giving ourselves a chance," Jones said. "We've got a short week, Oakland does too, and we want to come back and make the most of this win."
Of course, Jones was excited to see another clutch performance from Romo, the quarterback he invested so heavily in during the offseason. Jones said he's excited to see the longevity of the rest of Romo's career.
"He gives us, in my mind, a top quarterback – an experienced quarterback. He's unique, he's a student of the game," Jones said. "He's pretty sophisticated in how he coaches the game. It's not too much for him to think a lot like a coach and think about what coaches do. All of those things, he brings to the table."
Jones delivered his comments amid a crowded postgame locker room, right next to Romo's locker. The quarterback, having overheard his boss' endorsement, replied with a hearty "Damn right."
In The Corner
Morris Claiborne's status for the Thanksgiving game is in serious doubt.
The cornerback was coming off a hamstring injury in Sunday's game and re-aggravated it against the Giants, leaving him in question against the Raiders.
"It's definitely going to be tough with this short week, but we can just do what we can do and see how it feels when it comes close to game time," Claiborne said.
Claiborne hurt the hamstring on a pass breakup. Immediately after the injury, he started jogging off the field behind the Cowboys' end zone. He tried to return later, but his night wouldn't last much longer.
"As soon as I came down, I felt it," Claiborne said. "It just tightened up, and that was the end of it.
"I kind of felt it and knew what I'd done to it, because I'd done it before. I was frustrated about it, but I had to let it go. Like I said, I felt like I could continue when I first did it. But it was another story."
The Cowboys picked up the first down that allowed them to clinch the game on a play that should look familiar by now.
The Giants cleared out to cover Dez Bryant downfield, and Romo found Cole Beasley on a short outroute. A short run after the catch helped Beasley pick up the first down on his bread-and-butter play.
"That's pretty much the route that gave me playing time. I've been able to get open on that since I got here in camp last year," Beasley said. "It's probably my best route, with the option to go in, out or just sit down."
With the space created by the attention paid to Bryant, Beasley opted to take his route outside. That hasn't always been the case this season, however, as the pair have hooked up in different variations of the same play.
"I read the DB, and Tony reads me. He has a general idea of what the defense is playing," he said. "Tony has a really quick release, and he can throw an accurate ball right out of the break – even if he doesn't know where I'm going."
The key yards were the only ones Beasley picked up all night, but they offset a third quarter fumble that had put a damper on his night. Romo found Beasley for 17 yards on the Cowboys' first possession of the second half, only for the receiver to cough the ball away to New York.
The turnover wound up being wiped away by a roughing the passer call against the Giants, but Beasley was happy for the chance to atone nonetheless.
"For sure. There's no excuse for that. I've got to hold onto it better," he said. "I didn't get it high and tight enough, so I've just got to work on it in practice more."
Jason Witten has found the end zone six times this season, and four of those touchdowns have come against the Giants.
The All-Pro tight end opened his 2013 campaign with two touchdowns in the home win against New York. Sunday night, he caught four balls for 37 yards, including the Cowboys' second and third touchdowns of the night.
"It was just typical Cowboys-Giants," Witten said. "They're a good football team and they've been good for a long time. It's just a big week."
It's been a hit-and-miss season for Witten to this point, with several big games offset by several ineffective performances. Aside from the two touchdowns in the season opener, he had only scored in Week 5 and Week 9 before Sunday evening. [embedded_ad]
The two scores against the Giants allowed him to double his 2012 touchdown total, though. "He just consistently comes up with big plays for us," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "He does all the little things right. He does things that nobody sees in the run game and the pass game really, really well."