ARLINGTON, Texas – Jerry Jones, who just might be the best marketing man in NFL history, proudly points out that New York Giants have never won a game in AT&T Stadium.
“It got so desperate I just changed the name so we could go on a clean sheet of paper with AT&T,” Jones joked after the Dallas Cowboys’ 36-31 victory in the season opener, well aware that the Giants were 4-0 in the $1.2 billion football palace previously known as Cowboys Stadium before Sunday night.
It’s fitting that the Cowboys had to sweat until recovering an onside kick with seconds remaining. After all, the Giants’ four wins in the building best known as JerryWorld had all been wild affairs.
Call it the Curse of the Tuna, the price Jerry had to pay for hiring Giants legend Bill Parcells, a necessity to secure the $325 million of public financing to build the place. The hex apparently lasted four years, matching Parcells’ tenure with the Cowboys.
How else to explain the insanity of the Giants’ four-game winning streak here?
A quick review of the Giants' JerryWorld reign:
2009: Romo, the miracle quarterback groomed by Parcells, has one of his worst games in JerryWorld's grand opening. All three of his interceptions lead directly to Giants touchdowns. The Cowboys, who rush for more than 250 yards, still manage to rally to take a late lead … only to watch Eli Manning march the Giants on a drive that ends with the game-winning field goal as time expires. And then Eli unintentionally adds insult to injury by signing the wall in the vistor's locker room after New York’s 33-31 win.
2010: The Cowboys jump out to a 20-7 lead but ultimately roll over after Romo breaks his collarbone. (Way to go, Chris Gronkowski, whose brother just happened to become a star for the Patriots, the other team Parcells took to the Super Bowl.) Dallas rallies late to make a blowout look respectable, but this 41-35 loss pretty much seals the fate of poor Wade Phillips, the anti-Bill.
2011: Romo plays a near-perfect game, but it still isn’t good enough because Jersey guy Miles Austin loses the ball in the lights on a deep ball that would have put the Giants away. The Cowboys choke up a 12-point lead in the final four minutes, when Manning engineers two touchdown drives to pull off the 37-34 shocker. And coach Jason Garrett contributed to the collapse with a clock-management malfunction that had Jerry and the rest of the Jones family screaming for a timeout from their luxury suite.
2012: It was another pickfest by Romo, who threw four interceptions. The Cowboys still almost pulled off a crazy comeback, fueled by Jason Witten catching an NFL-tight end-record 18 passes, but Dez Bryant’s fingers land out of bounds on the woulda-been winning TD, seemingly because the football gods like screwing with Jerry so much.
On Sunday night, Manning had a chance to rip out the Cowboys’ hearts again. The Giants, who were down 17 points in the third quarter, trailed by only six when they got the ball at their 17-yard line with 2:41 remaining.
But the ball didn’t bounce the Giants’ way this time, as cornerback Brandon Carr came up with Dallas’ sixth turnover of the game, picking off a pass that bounced off the intended receiver and sprinting 49 yards for the touchdown to give the Cowboys some breathing room.
For the first time, the Giants had nothing to celebrate as they left Arlington.
“That’s been a monkey on our back for a long time,” said Witten, who caught a couple of touchdown passes in the win.
The monkey is gone. The curse is over.
The Cowboys are 1-0.