Monday, October 17, 2005

Cowboys Edge Giants 16-13 In Overtime

In a turnover filled game, the Giants (3-2) fell to Dallas (4-2) 16-13 in overtime at Big D Sunday afternoon.

Coming into the contest, first place in the NFC East was on the line. With two of the top four NFL-rated quarterbacks, many anticipated a shootout but it never transpired.

Instead, each team took turns giving the ball away. Both had four turnovers in a sloppily played game.

Despite being outplayed by the Cowboys for most of the game, the Giants still had a chance to tie it late. Trailing Dallas 13-6 with under five minutes left in regulation, New York drove all the way to the Cowboys' 1. But after an Eli Manning fourth down conversion to Jeremy Shockey and some strong running by Tiki Barber, the drive stalled. Facing a second-and-one from the Dallas 3, Coach Tom Coughlin substituted rookie Brandon Jacobs in for Barber. Jacobs barreled to the 1 and nearly got in but the ball was jarred loose and recovered by Roy Williams with 1:18 left.

Luckily for the Giants, they had all three timeouts and forced a three-and-out to get the ball back near midfield with 52 seconds remaining. On a day in which he struggled, Manning needed just two plays to force OT. After a 28-yard completeion to Plaxico Burress, he hit Shockey on a slant and watched the big tight end run it in for a 24-yard tying score with 19 seconds left.

In sudden death, the Giant D had no answers. They gave up three straight Drew Bledsoe first down completions including a 26-yard one to Jason Witten all the way to the Giants 28. It was all Jose Cortez would need. A few plays later, he atoned for two earlier misses with a gamewinning 45-yard field goal to make Dallas a 16-13 winner with 11:19 left in OT. The Giants fell to 3-14 off bye weeks.

Early on, the Giants got on the board first. After Michael Strahan recovered a Bledsoe fumble, it setup a 50-yard Jay Feely field goal to make it 3-0 after a quarter.

They received a second gift when Bledsoe was intercepted by Curtis DeLoatch near midfield. But Manning and the offense couldn't capitalize, going three-and-out. It would become a common theme.

With Dallas looking to get something going, Bledsoe hit Keyshawn Johnson for a 26-yard completion but Johnson fumbled and Nick Greisen returned it 28 yards to the Dallas 32. After driving to the Dallas 12, a costly false start penalty by Burress and a Greg Ellis sack of Manning forced the Giants to settle for a 45-yard Feely field goal making it 6-0 with 9:15 left in the half. On the next possession, Dallas made New York pay for not coming out with more points.

Bledsoe led the Cowboys on a long 16-play 83-yard drive that chewed up more than seven minutes. Finding wide open receivers all over the field, Bledsoe was near perfect, completing eight of nine passes. He finished it in style with a textbook play action TD pass to Witten from two yards out, giving Dallas a 7-6 lead with 1:14 to go in the half. For the game, Bledsoe was 26-of-37 for 312 yards with 1 TD, 1 Int and two lost fumbles.

After a Giants three-and-out, the Cowboys got the ball back and were in field goal range after a 10-yard Bledsoe completion to Terry Glenn. But Big Blue's D blocked Cortez' attempted 49-yarder with no time left in the half.

Manning and company would get another chance early in the second half on another Dallas miscue. After Osi Umenyiora sacked Bledsoe, leading to a Reggie Torbor fumble recovery at the Dallas 36, Manning had the Giants setup to go in front at the Cowboys' 13. But on third-and-six, he was intercepted by Alex Henry, who returned it 43 yards. It ended a string of 125 passes thrown by the second-year QB without a pick since two in Week One to Arizona.

After the Giants held, the offense again let them down. Manning hit Burress for nine yards but he lost the ball and it was recovered by Jason Ferguson at the Giants' 19. But Dallas couldn't take advantage due to two costly penalties. Cortez missed a 48-yard field goal.

Another New York three-and-out resulted in another long Dallas drive which spanned the end of the third quarter and 2:12 of the fourth. Big Blue's D stopped Marion Barber on a third-and-one to hold Dallas to a Cortez 29-yard field goal giving the Cowboys a 10-6 lead with 12:48 left.

They would extend it to 13-6 on another Manning miscue. After a La'Roi Glover sack of Manning forced a fumble, Ellis recovered it and rumbled 37 yards into Giant territory. With 4:47 left, Cortez added a 28-yard field goal making it 13-6 to setup the unpredictable finish.

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