Spagnola: Cowboys Do Amazing Things In This Torrid Race To The Finish Line

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Whew, that was something.

No, take that back. When you get right down to it, that was amazing, truly amazing.

Come on, you kidding me? The Giants ran 74 plays. They held the ball for 35 minutes, 7 seconds, an NFL eternity. They converted 69 percent of their third downs (11-of-16), bordering on ridiculous. They, before 80,520 people at MetLife Stadium and a national TV audience, held an 11-point halftime lead. They were benefactors of seven penalties on the Cowboys worth 63 yards, two of those personal foul penalties worth 15 yards each, and another, a holding call, wiping out a 39-yard pass to the Giants 16.

The Cowboys defense gave up 417 total yards, most in the past seven games. What had appeared to be an approving defense allowed Giants quarterback Eli Manning to pass for 338 yards, two short of this season's high by an opponent, established by the Saints' Drew Brees.

Let's see, there was the Giants sack/fumble on the Cowboys' last possession of the first half. The Giants no-huddle offense preventing the Cowboys rushmen from entering in waves. The Giants' 93-yard touchdown drive to retake the lead with just 3:00 left in the fourth quarter, 28-24.

And … oh yeah, ODELL BECKHAM JUNIOR, 10 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns, the Cowboys cornerbacks, every single one of them, and their free zone, no match for the rookie receiver from LSU.

Plus, Dwight Clark, move over. You might have authored "The Catch" against the Cowboys, and although that one with far more reaching significance, this forever more will be THE CATCH, the one I'm sure you were right there with me when I said to myself, "You're (kidding) me."

Never, ever before have I ever seen a one-handed, two-finger and a thumb, over-the-head, reaching way back while falling backward into the end zone catch in my life. I mean, they should have flagged Odell for excessive use of pine tar. How else could that pigskin have stuck in there? Suction cups for hands?

Amazing … every single bit of all this.

Including, the Cowboys won. Beat the New York Football Giants, 31-28. Swept the Giants for the second straight year, giving them five wins in the past six meetings. Moving their record to 8-3, their best since the 2009 season. Kept them tied for first with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East and for the second-best record in the NFC, Green Bay included.

Setting up a delicious Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Eagles, maybe the biggest Thanksgiving Day game the Cowboys have played since, well, 20 years ago today when their third-string quarterback, some guy named Jason Garrett, lit up the Packers in the second half for 36 points, finishing with 311 yards passing, in a 42-31 comeback victory over Brett Favre.

No (kid), you believing all this, all thanks to a serious second-half reversal of fortune.

"We have been in a lot of these games over the years, and somehow, someway we have been on the other side in most of them," Cowboys co-captain Jason Witten said. "Great team effort. These division games are always tough. We came back in the second half and did exactly that, we fought, we fought together. It was a big win."

Makes you think, doesn't it, that maybe, just maybe this season is …

OK, let's not get too carried away. Still five games to go.

But, you know what I mean. Down 21-0 early in the second quarter at St. Louis, yet winning 34-21.

Allowing Houston to score 10 straight fourth-quarter points to forge a 17-17 tie, forcing overtime, only to win on a 49-yard Dan Bailey field goal after Bailey had missed the game-winner from 53 in the final seconds.

Going on the road in the most hostile of hostile places, Seattle, falling behind 23-20 in the fourth quarter, yet managing to score the final 10 points for a 30-23 victory.

And now this.

Trailing 28-24 with 3:00 left, needing only seven plays in 1:59 to score the winning touchdown, a Tony Romo-to-Dez Bryant-touchdown pass from 13 yards out that was rather stupefying itself. Did you see the superimposed stopwatch on the TV replay? Romo tap-dancing in the pocket for 8.9 seconds – EIGHT.NINE, I'm telling you – before he delivered that strike in the back of the end zone to Bryant to complete his franchise-leading 23rd fourth-quarter or overtime rally for a victory.

Maybe the worm indeed is turning.

Witten is right. These are the types of games the Cowboys have lost in the past, the ones that have kept them from ever poking their heads above water, er, eight wins in any of the last three seasons, unless you have forgotten Denver, Detroit and Green Bay from just this past season.

But already the Cowboys are at eight wins, and still there are five games to play, starting with the Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Eagles when they will try to defy logic once again.

For turkey sakes, it's one thing to make the Cowboys play on the road before playing host to their 46th Thanksgiving Day game, since their opponents all have to travel in on Wednesday while the Cowboys can relax at home. But to play a night game on Sunday while the Eagles played a noon game at home; to play at the Giants on that Sunday night, which meant departing Newark, N.J. on their American Airlines charter flight at like 1:15 a.m. (CT) Monday and not arriving back into DFW until 5:15, and that's A.M., and unlikely anyone getting to sleep before 6:30, then having to play three days later …

Fair is not part of the NFL's vocabulary, especially if we consider seven days after Turkey Day the Cowboys have to play another night game, and once again on the road, this one in Chicago.

But, whatcha gonna do? Complain? To whom? As Garrett said last week, what's the use, "it ain't changing."

Still, you ain't getting extra credit for winning Thursday nor will anyone afford sympathy for losing. So get ready, go play.

"We just have to rest well and prepare well and get ready for the game," said Bryant, knowing full well no one is feeling sorry for the Dallas Cowboys just because the Eagles could have gotten at least eight hours sleep in their own comfy beds if they chose to before the Cowboys even reached their homesteads on Monday. "I think everybody is ready to go play again. Everybody knows that we won tonight, but when we land in Dallas, that game no longer matters."

Most seemed to catch some sleep on the four-hour flight back home. And they'll need whatever they can manage since Garrett called a 2 p.m. team meeting Monday and will have the team on the field at 4 p.m. for a short practice, probably until the sun goes down.

But then who knows, maybe this indeed is the dawning of a new era for the Cowboys, since not much seems to bother them. Not playing on the road, where they are an NFL-best 5-0. Not playing overseas. Not playing from behind. Not playing with the breaks seemingly all going the other way. And now they challenge fatigue, too.

But see, so far, here is the great equalizer: scoring points.

Of the eight games the Cowboys have won, they have scored Thirtysomething in six of them, and at least 26 in seven. And most of the time (four) those outputs have not been frivolous points. They have needed every darn one of them.

But in the three games they have lost, the Cowboys have scored exactly 17 in each one. Offense wins … at least for this bunch. And don't you forget it.

So take a screen shot, and put up a sticky note: points do matter. And then hold on tight over these next 10 days. The Cowboys just might be giving new meaning to The Amazing Race.

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