It was nowhere close to the two-day 2003 blackout in our area, but the two power outages suffered in New Meadowlands Stadium certainly would have been a good side note if the New York Giants made a charged comeback. Yet, no matter how many lights were on, the downtrodden Dallas Cowboys finally lived up to their promise for at least one game this season with the 33-20 upset of the home team this past Sunday.
Truthfully, most of the offensive numbers look fine in retrospect. Eli Manning posted near-career highs in completions (33 for 48) and yards (373) to go with two touchdowns. Unfortunately, this was couple with three illegal shift penalties from the offensive line, including one that nullified a Hakeem Nicks score midway through the fourth quarter. Manning also had two interceptions, including one in the end zone that was returned for a Cowboys’ record 101 yards by Bryan McCann, a reserve cornerback that played because of injuries.
Despite a depleted wide receiver corps – missing starter Steve Smith during the week and reserve Ramses Barden during the game due to a broken ankle – most of Manning’s numbers came when the game was well in hand for Dallas.
Though the Giants’ still stifled Dallas’ rushing game until late, the Cowboys didn’t exactly need to use their running backs to better New York. Felix Jones and Marion Barber III combined for 98 yards on 22 carries. Yet, Jon Kitna, unlike most quarterbacks the Giants have faced this season, was able to expose the secondary with a few deep passes. The journeyman quarterback with a big arm, but bouts of bad decisions, knew the right plays to make in spreading the ball around to keep defenders guessing.
Three of those passes were caught by the dynamic rookie wide receiver/returner Dez Bryant, who had 104 receiving yards and Dallas’ first points of the game with an impressive 13-yard sprint for a touchdown. Kitna also connected with Jones and Miles Austin for touchdowns.
The third quarter power outages and the first win for Dallas’ interim head coach Jason Garrett got all the attention, but for the Giants, the lights flickered off much earlier. Said defensive end Justin Tuck after the game, “I don’t know that we were complacent and thinking that we were going to come in here and show up and beat the Cowboys again and thinking that they were just going to lay down. I don’t know what it was, but this wasn’t the football team that we had put on film the last month and a half.”
This coming Sunday, New York is going to have to regroup quickly in Philadelphia to take on another division rival in the Eagles. Michael Vick, who put himself in the MVP conversation with a historic performance against Washington on Monday night, quarterbacks arguably the NFL’s most feared team. With identical 6-3 records, the winner will take the NFC East lead for the moment.