Thomas George reports from the Giants-Cowboys game. Check back later for his complete column.
IRVING, Texas — Reality show, soap opera, family feud or any other depiction offered before kickoff did not sap the Dallas Cowboys. They found a way to silence fractious in-house jawing and venomous outside critics.
They jolted the Giants 20-8 in Texas Stadium in a brawl that gave the Cowboys refreshed playoff hopes and saddled New York with its first two-game losing streak this season.
Dallas did it with eight sacks of Eli Manning and with a defense that entered the stadium individually but played as one throughout. The Giants’ offense did not score a touchdown for the first time this season and their top-ranked running game was held to 72 yards.
Dallas (9-5) soothed reported wounds among quarterback Tony Romo and receiver Terrell Owens, among tight end Jason Witten and Owens, among an entire locker room. Coach Wade Phillips gained a reprieve. And offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, also under siege, orchestrated a sizzling game plan for the Cowboys. It was capped by a Tashard Choice 38-yard touchdown run with 2:16 remaining that crushed New York’s defense and the Giants’ last-gasp hopes.
With consecutive divisional losses to Philadelphia and Dallas, the Giants (11-3) will be pushed to win another game before the playoffs. They play at home next against rising Carolina (11-3) and finish at Minnesota in a game the Vikings will likely find crucial to win their division.
The Cowboys are not the 13-3 team from a year ago that flew into the playoffs with 13 Pro Bowl players only to be punched out by the Giants. No, they are a battle-scarred team with obvious flaws and not-so-obvious agendas by some players who are earning things this season the hard way.
After two straight losses to the Giants, the Cowboys finally changed the complexion of this series and maybe of their team. It was a one-sided show.
Instead of the “freak” ones that have dominated their season.