The New York Giants got close, but a questionable play call with less than two minutes remaining might have sealed their fate in a crushing 27-26 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.
The Giants had a 23-13 lead with 8:01 left after a Brandon Meriweather hit created a fubmle that Trumaine McBride return to the 1-yard line. Rashad Jennings scored on the next play, and the Giants appeared on their way to an upset.
Dallas closed to win 23-20 with 5:11 left by going 76 yards in six plays, getting a 1-yard pass from Tony Romo to Jason Witten. The Giants then marched 79 yards in 13 plays for a chip-shot 19-yard Josh Brown field goal, his fourth of the night, for a 26-20 lead with 1:34 left. The critical play here might have been the final one, and third-and-goal from the 1-yard line. With a pass play called Eli Manning threw the ball away rather than take a sack, leaving the Cowboys time to put together a game-winning drive.
Dallas took advantage, going 72 yards in six plays with Tony Romo hitting Jason Witten with an 11-yard game-winning touchdown pass with seven seconds left.
"Bad decision on my part. Nobody to blame but me," said head coach Tom Coughlin. "The strategy was obviously wrong at the end."
The Giants (0-1) managed to lose despite generating three turnovers and not giving up any. They have now lost five consecutive season openers.
That had to hurt. pic.twitter.com/4N4WHmnTZ7— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) September 14, 2015
Let's talk about the last 1:12 of the first half
The Giants were statistically dominated in the first half, but the Giants made two huge plays late in the half to change the game's momentum. Dallas wide receiver Cole Beasley fumbled when hit by Trumaine McBride, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie scooped and scored, going 57 yards to give the Giants a 10-6 lead. On the next play, Jason Witten tipped a Tony Romo pass and rookie Uani' Unga intercepted at the Dallas 22-yard line, setting up a 40-yard Josh Brown field goals.
What a crazy first quarter
A 17-play, 79-yard drive by Dallas that took 10:27 and led to a field goal. The Giants had a chance at afumble recovery on the second play and couldn't come up with it.
The Giants catch two huge breaks on their first possession, winning a review of a Rashad Jennings fumble/non fumble, getting a 15-yard Dallas penalty to boot. Then, getting the call when Dallas challenged a catch/fumble by Odell Beckham Jr. Result, a 50-yard Josh Brown field goal and a 3-3 tie with 2:09 left in the quarter.
The Giants return to MetLife Stadium for their home opener next Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. That's a 1 p.m. ET start, and the game will be broadcast on FOX.