Giants vs. Cowboys: Score and Twitter Reaction for 'Sunday Night Football'

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistSeptember 14, 2015

Tony Romo, quarterback de los Cowboys de Dallas, lanza un pase en el duelo contra los Giants de Nueva York, el domingo 13 de septiembre de 2015 (AP Foto/Michael Ainsworth)
Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

Tony Romo is perhaps too harshly criticized for his late-game errors, and he rose to the occasion on the first Sunday Night Football of the 2015 season, delivering his Dallas Cowboys to a come-from-behind 27-26 home win over the division rival New York Giants.

With the Giants up 26-20 and just under 90 seconds left on the clock, Romo engineered a furious six-play, 72-yard drive, capped by an 11-yard strike to Jason Witten in the front of the end zone with 13 seconds left on the clock. The play had a high degree of difficulty after a bad snap, via the NFL's Twitter account: 


Romo. Witten. BALLGAME! #NYGvsDAL http://t.co/ij1urYFXXw

Grantland's Shea Serrano was beside himself with joy:

Shea Serrano @SheaSerrano


ESPN Stats & Info noted this kind of thing was nothing new for Romo: 

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Most Game-Winning Drives Since 2006 (Romo's 1st yr as starter) Tony Romo 28 Peyton Manning 26 Matt Ryan 26

Romo, who led the league last season with an 83.6 total QBR, per ESPN.com—picked up where he left off with an efficient night of passing mitigated by errors from his various pass-catchers. He completed 36 of 45 passes for 356 yards and three touchdowns against two interceptions, neither of which was his fault. 

Bill Barnwell @billbarnwell

Eli has to just fall over and give himself up there on third down if nothing’s open, I think.

Witten tallied eight catches for 60 yards and two scores, with both of them coming in the fourth quarter. His first touchdown reception brought Dallas to within three points at 23-20 with three minutes left in the game.

Dallas finished with 436 yards of offense to New York's 289, but three costly turnovers kept the Giants in control for much of the game. New York wasn't without fault, though.

A curious decision to throw the ball on 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line with a three-point lead and 1:43 remaining stopped the clock after Eli Manning threw the ball out of bounds, opening the door for Romo's thrilling drive.

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin took the blame for the call, per ESPN's Dan Graziano:

Dan Graziano @DanGrazianoESPN

Coughlin: "My fault at the end of end the game, nobody to blame but me. Decision to throw the ball on third down was not a good decision."

Joseph Randle got the start in the Cowboys' new-look backfield, picking up 34 yards on the team's first drive, and earning the lion's share of the carries. He finished with 65 yards on the ground and 42 more through the air.

Darren McFadden chipped in with 35 all-purpose yards, while Lance Dunbar excelled on passing downs with eight receptions for 70 yards, including a gains of 24 and 16 yards to spark the Cowboys' game-winning drive. 

Dallas did get some bad news on the night. Star wideout Dez Bryant is set to miss a significant amount of time with a foot injury, per Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson:

Charles Robinson @CharlesRobinson

Jerry Jones just said Dez Bryant will be out 4-6 weeks with a foot injury. #Cowboys

It's a broken bone, per Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar: 

Doug Farrar @BR_DougFarrar

Per NFL Network: Dez Bryant has a broken bone in his foot.

With the Giants offense sputtering, it was a disappointing night for star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. He finished with just five receptions for 44 yards, most of which came in the second half. Manning was unremarkable on the night, passing for 193 yards and no scores but also no turnovers. The Giants pass-rush was essentially nonexistent.

New York struggled to gain traction on offense from the outset but converted two Cowboys turnovers just before the half into 10 points for a 13-6 lead at the break. The Giants' offense hardly saw the field in the first half, per NFL on ESPN:


HALFTIME: Giants take a 7 pt lead into the locker room. They had the ball offensively for just 7:54 in the 1st half. http://t.co/QOVV1Tf3wn

The first turnover was the fault of Dallas wideout Cole Beasley. Cornerback Trumaine McBride stripped him of the ball in Giants territory, and fellow corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie scooped up the loose ball and ran it back 57 yards for the first touchdown of the game. NFL on Twitter shared the highlight: 


Cole Beasley tries to extend a play...FUMBLES And Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie takes it to the HOUSE! #NYGvsDAL http://t.co/v880z4bA2O

On Dallas' next play from scrimmage, an off-target pass from Romo bounced off Witten's outstretched hand and into the arms of linebacker Uani Unga. New York added a Josh Brown field goal on the extra possession for a seven-point halftime advantage.

ESPN's J.A. Adande noted Dallas was thoroughly outgunning New York despite trailing on the scoreboard: 

J.A. Adande @jadande

Total yards: DAL 202 NYG 86. Yet it’s the Giants with the 7-point lead

The Cowboys had issues finishing long, clock-eating drives in the first half, with key mistakes from Romo's various targets hindering their efforts. David Moore of the Dallas Morning News noted the Cowboys missed the presence of Bryant on one second-quarter possession:

David Moore @DavidMooreDMN

Dez Bryant goes out with dehydration. Terrance Williams has back-to-back passes go through his hands. Cowboys punt.

Bryant would return for the Cowboys' next series but dropped a catchable pass in the red zone on third down, dooming another Dallas drive to just three points when six looked like a distinct possibility.

Randle, McFadden and Dunbar all saw action on passing downs and served as fine outlets for Romo. The Giants might've had the halftime lead, but Dallas looked like the better team.

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

New York stretched its lead to 16-6 on another field goal, but the Cowboys answered back, finally finishing off a long drive without calamity. The nine-play, 80-yard march took nearly six minutes off the clock, ending with a two-yard strike from Romo to tight end Gavin Escobar in the back of the end zone.

An Escobar TD was a good omen for Dallas in 2014, per Cowboys Nation: 

Cowboys Nation @CowboysNation

Every time Gavin Escobar caught a TD pass in 2014, we won. I think that's your devilish reference. https://t.co/S1f4XJCLfB

McBride made his second major contribution midway through the fourth quarter. With Dallas deep in its own half, he intercepted a Romo pass that bounced off the hands of wideout Devin Street and nearly took it to the house before being pushed out of bounds just before the pylon.

Rashad Jennings plunged in from one yard out, handing the Giants a 23-13 advantage. Romo worked his magic over the final few minutes, however, leading his team to a one-point win. Graziano was quick to credit the Cowboys' offensive line for its part in the comeback:

Dan Graziano @DanGrazianoESPN

Lots to digest here, but fundamentally, Romo went down the field with no resistance twice in the final eight minutes.

Without the turnovers, Dallas might have run away with this one. Both the passing attack and rushing game were in fine form. The offensive line kept Romo upright for much of the night, and he had plenty of time to throw. The loss of Bryant will sting. It will be up to Beasley and Terrance Williams to cut down on mistakes and step up for the 'Boys.

New York has room to improve on offense. The rushing game, spearheaded by Jennings, was hardly inspiring. Hopefully, when wideout Victor Cruz returns to health, Manning will have two surefire options in the passing game with which to extend possessions.