Giants 33, Cowboys 31

House party crashers

Giants spoil Cowboys’ night with late FG

By Jaime Aron
Associated Press / September 21, 2009

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IRVING, Texas - Lawrence Tynes sent home the largest crowd in NFL regular-season history muttering about what might’ve been.

Tynes kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired, giving the New York Giants a 33-31 victory over the turnover-prone Dallas Cowboys last night and ruining the debut of their rival’s $1.15 billion stadium.

The Cowboys (1-1) went ahead, 31-30, on a touchdown run by Felix Jones with 3:40 left. It was the seventh lead change of a game in which neither team led by more than 6 points, and it didn’t last.

Eli Manning drove New York 56 yards in seven plays. He got out of a first-and-20 on his 15 to start it and converted two third downs, including one on a tipped pass caught by Mario Manningham. Tynes actually made the winning kick twice; Dallas called time just before the first one was snapped, so he had to do it again.

“Well we just knew we had to go and get in field goal range,’’ Manning said. “We had enough time, we had timeouts.’’

A crowd of 105,121 that included former President George W. Bush and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell began filling Cowboys Stadium more than four hours before kickoff. There were all sorts of ceremonies to mark the occasion, but the tight game was the biggest treat - well, until the end, as far as the locals were concerned.

Other than field goals on their first and last drives, the Giants’ other 27 points all were set up by turnovers. New York (2-0) scored three touchdowns off interceptions of Tony Romo and won despite losing defensive end Justin Tuck to a shoulder injury and receiver Domenik Hixon to a sprained knee.

Manning was 25 of 38 for 330 yards with 22-yard TD passes to Manningham and Steve Smith. Each caught 10 passes, with Manningham’s covering 150 yards and Smith’s going for 134. They had to rely on Manning’s arm because Dallas limited Brandon Jacobs to 58 yards and Ahmad Bradshaw to 37.

On one of the biggest stages of his career, Romo turned in one of his worst outings. He was 13 of 29 for 127 yards with a touchdown and those three interceptions. The first was returned for a touchdown, the second was a bit of a fluke (it bounced up off Jason Witten’s shoe), and the third was a punt-like heave into double coverage.

It was his fewest yards in a full game and his passer rating of 29.6 was the second-lowest of his career.

The Cowboys stayed in it thanks to their running game. Marion Barber ran for 124 yards and a touchdown and Jones added 96. Jones also had a fumble of a kickoff that led to a New York field goal.

“Any time you don’t get any turnovers and the other [team] gets four, it’s hard to overcome,’’ Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said.

Had Tynes not made the winner, the Giants’ fans might’ve blamed him for the loss. He’d missed a 29-yarder early in the third quarter.

Romo scored on a third-down keeper from 2 yards with 3:35 left in the third quarter, a play after throwing a pass that was too hot for Patrick Crayton to handle in the end zone.

The Giants led, 20-17, at halftime after Manning’s 22-yard TD pass in the final minute to Manningham, who juggled the ball while falling down in the end zone before pulling it back in.

That TD came after Romo’s second interception, a ball thrown behind Witten that ricocheted off the Pro Bowl tight end’s foot and was grabbed out of the air by Kenny Phillips.

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