RECAP: Cowboys Defeat Giants, 31-21, Improve to 6-1

Consider this another test passed for the Cowboys.

Last week the team shocked everyone by going into Seattle and defeating the defending Super Bowl champs, taking a game that no one expected them to. Coupled with the Giants getting blown out in Philadelphia, this matchup therefore had the makings for the proverbial trap game for the Dallas side, everyone now penciling them in as the favorite.

But teams that aspire to greatness take care of business when they're supposed to, and that is exactly what the Cowboys did, outlasting their division rivals, 31-21, to improve to 6-1 on the season.

This one wasn't always pretty at times, in fact there were moments in the first half that were downright ugly. But in the end, the Cowboys' firepower was simply too much for the banged-up Giants.

DeMarco Murray continued his amazing run, surpassing 100 rushing yards (128) once again to become the first player in NFL history to reach the century mark in the first seven games of a season.

He wasn't alone, however. Tony Romo was efficient in his performance, totaling a modest 279 yards on 17-of-23 passing, but also throwing three touchdowns. Most of that work went in the direction of Dez Bryant, the superstar receiver posting a game-high nine catches for 151 yards. And while he didn't get into the end zone, he left that to tight end Gavin Escobar, who recorded a single-game career-high two scoring grabs with Terrance Williams earning his sixth touchdown of the season, already surpassing his total from all of last year.

The Cowboys seemed well on their way when they took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, that early advantage coming courtesy of an 11-play, 76-yard drive that was capped when Romo found Escobar all alone in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown strike.

But, maybe they needed to be reminded that this is the NFL, the NFC East no less, and nothing comes easy.

The Giants took control just before the game entered the second quarter and went on their own lengthy drive, covering 71 yards in 10 plays with Manning finding wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on the right side of the end zone to even up the score, 7-7. The visitors' effort was helped when safety J.J. Wilcox was called for pass interference after a New York pass fell incomplete on fourth-and-1 at the Cowboy 38-yard line.

More problems then ensued for the Dallas side. On their next possession, Romo attempted to go deep to Bryant down the right sideline, but when the receiver tripped and fell, that left Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara all by himself to haul in the easy interception. After he returned the pick back to the Cowboys 27-yard line, Manning needed only one play to connect for another touchdown, tight end Daniel Fells rumbling through the Cowboys secondary and into the end zone. Just like that, the home team now found themselves behind the underdog New Yorkers, 14-7.

With that, the Cowboys perhaps woke up. Using a balanced attack, rushing the ball six times and throwing it four, the offense moved 80 yards in 10 plays, the key blow coming on a third-and-9 at the Dallas 43 when Romo found tight end Jason Witten 15 yards downfield to move the chains and keep the drive alive.

Three plays later, Romo did what Romo does, scrambling, avoiding the rush, biding his time before firing a laser into Williams in the back of the end zone from 18 yards out to even the score, 14-14, where it remained at the half.

Carrying that momentum into the third quarter, Dallas halted a New York drive that reached the Cowboys 43-yard line with the Giants' punt forcing the home team to start at its own 7-yard line. No matter. On third down, Romo  found Bryant running an out to the left side, the receiver then breaking loose for a big 44-yard gain. Two plays after that, the quarterback saw Escobar running up the right seam, the tight end reaching out for a great catch in the end zone, the home fans erupting with the 21-14 lead.

The good vibes then continued into the fourth quarter when safety Barry Church jarred the ball loose from Giants tight end Larry Donnell and linebacker Justin Durant fell on it at the New York 19-yard line. Given the great field position, Romo needed only four plays to get his team into the end zone.

Actually, it first appeared that Dallas had found paydirt in just three snaps after the quarterback hit a streaking Bryant down the left sideline, the wideout diving to reach the pylon, but instead being ruled down at the 1. That left the glory to Murray, who eased his way in, the Cowboys now comfortable at 28-14.

A comfort that lasted all of about four minutes. For that's how long it took Manning to come right back and narrow the score to just a touchdown, 28-21. New York's passer picked apart the Dallas defense, Donnell hauling in a big 17-yard catch with Beckham grabbing an 11-yarder during the series. And it was the latter who eventually got the score, Manning scrambling away from pressure before finding the rookie just inside the goal line.

But again, teams that aspire to greatness have to close out games such as these, and that is exactly what the Cowboys did.

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Relying on its two lead horses, Murray and Bryant, Dallas went from their own 20-yard line to the New York 31, and more importantly ate up 4:29 of clock. That's where Dan Bailey then got into the action, splitting the uprights on a 49-yard field goal with less than a minute remaining to secure the win, a fumble recovery by Henry Melton only seconds later just icing on the cake, 31-21.

With the victory, the Cowboys improved to a league-best 6-1 on the season, and with the Eagles off this week, moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC East. This marks the team's best record since also opening up the season at 6-1 in 2007.

The first of three straight home games, Dallas next welcomes the rival Redskins to town for a Monday night battle in Week 8.

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