It was not a pleasant Dallas Cowboys debut for Matt Cassel. The veteran quarterback who is now on his fifth NFL team did not fare well most of the game. Despite having a halftime lead, three third quarter interceptions on three straight drives led to ten points for the New York Giants and would ultimately undo the Cowboys as their five game winning streak against the Giants was snapped by the 27-20 New York win.
After a decent opening drive for the Giants stalled, Dallas took their first drive down the field before having to settle for a field goal by Dan Bailey. On their first drive the Cowboys ran the ball for 61 yards, en route to their best game on the ground so far this season. For the first time, the Cowboys looked even remotely close to what they looked like last year on the ground as Darren McFadden ran for his first 100+ yard game in almost two years as he ran for 152 yards on 29 carries with a touchdown. As a team Dallas ran for 233 yards on 41 carries.
The Giants came back with their best drive of the day, a 79 yard touchdown drive which was capped off by a 15 yard run by Orleans Darkwa, his first touchdown of the season. Dallas got another field goal and then took the lead on a one yard touchdown run by McFadden to go up 13-7. The Giants had another drive before the half ended, and got a field goal by Josh Brown to pull within three at 13-10.
In the third quarter, Cassel began to unravel. The first interception he threw was returned 58 yards for a touchdown by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. It was his sixth career interception return for a touchdown and his second defensive touchdown against the Cowboys this season. Later another interception set up a field goal by Brown to put the Giants up 20-13. After a third interception by Cassel, all looked lost. But the veteran would show his savvy yet.
In the fourth, Cassel drove the Cowboys 80 yards in nine plays, capped off with a great throw to Devin Street as he was being hit to a spot where only Street could get it, and he kept his toes in bounds for the touchdown to tie the game. On the ensuing kickoff, former Cowboy Dwayne Harris took the kick 100 yards up the middle for a touchdown. It was the first time the Giants have had a kickoff return and interception return for a touchdown since 1951. The Cowboys made one final push, but they were stopped on a fourth down deep in Giants territory with roughly two minutes to play. The defense forced a three and out by the Giants, but on the ensuing punt Cole Beasley muffed it and Myles White got in it for the Giants to preserve the win.
Eli Manning did very little in this game, completing just 13 of 24 passes for 170 yards and no touchdowns. Odell Beckham only caught four passes for 35 yards, though he was a presence moving the chains. The running game for the Giants was also bottled up, with just 132 yards on 25 carries, which is a more generous number than actually was the case as one carry by Shane Vereen gained 39 of those yards, almost a third of the total rushing output for the team. Dallas dominated this game, holding the ball for over 38 minutes, gaining 27 first downs to 13 for the Giants and outgaining the Giants 460 to 289 total yards. But the turnovers made the difference.
Dallas has now lost four in a row and will return home next week to take on the Seattle Seahawks. The Giants sit atop the NFC east (with the Eagles still to play) at 4-3 with a trip to New Orleans to take on the Saints next week, who have now won two straight after starting 1-4.