Giants control NFC East with 29-24 win at Dallas
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Osi Umenyiora and the New York Giants were feeling awful, believing they had just suffered a monumental collapse.
Upon further review, a replay overturned a Dallas Cowboys touchdown with 10 seconds left and the Giants held on for a 29-24 victory Sunday after blowing a 23-point lead, taking a firm hold on the NFC East lead.
"After going up 23-0 and having them come back like that and win, it was a very bad feeling. But thankfully, it wasn't in bounds," Umenyiora said. "I don't think that's luck. He just didn't make the play."
Dez Bryant leaped and made an impressive catch between two Giants defenders in the back of the end zone. After being ruled a 37-yard touchdown, officials watched a replay that showed Bryant's fingers hit out of bounds first when he reached down with his right hand to brace his fall.
"Everybody thought it was over," said Jason Pierre-Paul, who had his first interception and touchdown for the Giants.
After the overturned touchdown, the Cowboys (3-4) were unable to get in the end zone despite getting off three more plays.
New York (6-2) has won six of seven games since its season-opening loss to the Cowboys on Sept. 5, when the Giants became the first defending Super Bowl champion to lose in the NFL's midweek kickoff game that has become a tradition over the past decade.
But halfway through their schedule, the Giants are the only NFC East team with a winning record. Philadelphia (3-4) and Washington (3-5), the other division teams, both lost Sunday.
"You take that every time halfway through the season," Eli Manning said. "We're happy to be here winning some close games the last two weeks."
What almost became the largest blown lead for the Giants to lose instead became the 20th time since Manning became their quarterback in 2004 that they came from behind in the fourth quarter to win. They also did so a week earlier with Victor Cruz's 77-yard catch with 1:13 left at Washington.
The Giants improved to 4-0 at Cowboys Stadium since Jerry Jones' football palace opened in 2009 with a New York victory.
On the first day of training camp, Jones told his team's fans to come watch them beat the Giants' rear ends. He was a bit more emphatic using a different word.
"You couldn't draw it up and start a game any worse than we started," Jones said. "I'm very disappointed right now. ... I thought after all that, our defense played well enough, our offense kept going and I thought we were going to get a chance to pull one out."
The Giants quickly cleared out of Cowboys Stadium to get home with Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast.
New York led 23-0 only 2 minutes into the second quarter when Pierre-Paul broke off a block and jumped up to pluck a pass out of the air, returning it 28 yards. It was the third of four interceptions by Tony Romo, and among six Dallas turnovers.
Things were so bad then that Jones was booed when he came on the giant video screen during a pre-taped public service announcement about breast cancer awareness.
"Seriously. I'm sure the fans had the same feeling I did," Jones said. "I was frustrated, mad and knew that we had dug ourselves a hole that was going to take super effort to get out of."
But Dallas got within 23-10 before halftime, then took the lead with a pair of 1-yard touchdowns in the third quarter.
Romo, who completed 36 of 62 passes for a career-high 437 yards, scored on a fourth-down run after faking a handoff and rolling right. On the next drive, he faked another handoff and was rolling right again when he tossed the ball to tight end John Phillips.
Lawrence Tynes kicked two of his five field goals in the fourth quarter, including a 43-yarder with 10:20 left for a 26-24 lead. He added a 37-yarder with 3½ minutes remaining after Felix Jones' fumble was recovered by Stevie Brown.
Brown picked Romo off for a second time with 1:03 left, but New York failed to get a first down on three running plays while Dallas used all of its timeouts.
The Cowboys got the ball back with 44 seconds left at the 30, and Bryant's apparent score sent the faithful fans who remained into a frenzy until officials changed the call.
"When they took it away, my heart just dropped. I had my mind set that if the ball is thrown to me, I don't care; I'm going to come down with it," said Bryant, who had five catches for 110 yards. "And I came down with it and I thought I was in. It's frustrating."
Tight end Jason Witten had 18 catches (for 167 yards) to break his own franchise record for a single game and tie for the third-most in NFL history. With Miles Austin catching nine balls for 133 yards, Dallas had three 100-yard receivers for only the second time.
The Cowboys play at undefeated Atlanta next Sunday night.
"Nobody's ever questioned our fight or battle, but you still have to win games," Witten said. "It is the time of the season you have to start putting those wins together."
NOTES: Cowboys LB Dan Connor, starting in place of injured LB Sean Lee, had a neck strain before halftime. Connor will have an MRI on Monday. ... Giants LB Chase Blackburn sustained a left hamstring injury, and TE Bear Pascoe a sprained ankle. ... Tynes is now the second-leading scorer in Giants history with 535 career points.
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