IRVING -- There were 141 plays in the New York Giants’ 29-24 win over the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon. Most folks, as you would expect, want to focus on Dez Bryant's apparent 37-yard game-winning touchdown being nullified. But there were several other plays that determined the outcome of this game.
Here are five plays that shaped the game:
Play: Ahmad Bradshaw fumbles
Situation: First-and-10 at New York 40
Score: Giants, 23-0
Time: 11:37 left, second quarter
Taylor's Take: Although the Cowboys were getting blown out, you could tell from the reaction of Morris Claiborne, who recovered the fumble, and his teammates that they truly excited about the way they were playing. Defensive lineman Kenyon Coleman stripped Bradshaw as he ran up the middle and Claiborne pounced on the ball, changing the game’s momentum and giving Dallas an opportunity to get back in it.
Play: Danny McCray intercepts pass
Situation: Third-and-2 at Dallas 46
Score: Dallas, 24-23
Time: :59 left, third quarter
Taylor's Take: Gerald Sensabuagh delivered a perfect hit, dislodging the ball from Victor Cruz before he secured the pass, and McCray plucked it off Cruz’s butt. The play, however, required a lengthy review -- first to see if the pass was intercepted and then to determine if McCray had been touched negating his return. The extended review allowed the Giants to gather themselves while taking away some of the crowd’s emotion and the Cowboys’ momentum. The replay acted like a timeout in a basketball game.
Play: Tony Romo incompletion
Situation: Second-and-1 from the New York 15
Score: New York, 29-24
Time: 1:23 left, fourth quarter
Taylor's Take: Tony Romo and Jason Witten had been virtually impossible to stop on an option route that allowed Witten to find a soft spot in the coverage against zone and run an out against man coverage. Romo had completed eight consecutive passes to Witten and nine of 10. But on second down, one play after a 9-yard completion to Witten, Romo led the tight end too much and he couldn’t make the catch as he ran out of bounds. Two plays later, the drive ended with an interception.
Play: Tony Romo incompletion
Situation: Second-and-10 from the New York 27
Score: Giants, 29-24
Time: :01 left, fourth quarter
Taylor's Take: On the game’s final play, Osi Umenyiori beat Doug Free off the snap and immediately pressured Romo, forcing him to roll left. Romo eluded the pressure but as he ran toward the line of scrimmage Jason Pierre-Paul peeled off his blocker and pressured him too. Romo’s final pass sailed out of the end zone because he didn’t have a chance to set his feet and make an accurate throw.
Play: Dez Bryant 55-yard reception
Situation: Second-and-1 at Dallas 21
Score: Giants, 23-7
Time: 2:11 left, second quarter
Taylor's Take: The Giants busted a coverage, and Dez Bryant found himself along the left sideline without a defender within 10 yards. Instead of throwing a pass that Bryant could run under, Romo heaved a pass that resembled a punt. Bryant waited for it, which gave the defense time to recover and tackle him at the Giants 24. Instead of a touchdown, the Cowboys settled for a field goal.