TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Even though they got help from the Giants , Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys took this pivotal game and all but buried New York’s slim hopes of making the playoffs.
Romo threw two touchdowns and led a drive that set up Dan Bailey’ 35-yard field goal on the final play as the Cowboys won 24-21 Sunday, ending the Giants’ four-game winning streak and denying them a place in NFL history.
The victory moved the Cowboys (6-5) into a first-place tie with idle Philadelphia in the NFC East with five games left. It left the Giants (4-7) wondering about what they gave away in two losses to Dallas.
Romo hit two third-down passes on the 14-play drive that covered the final 4:45 after New York tied the game on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Louis Murphy Jr., and a 2-point conversion run by Andre Brown.
Romo hit Jason Witten on TDs of 20 and 2 yards, and Dallas got a defensive touchdown on a 50-yard fumble return by Jeff Heath.
The Giants, seeking to become the second NFL team to win five straight after losing the first six, rallied over the past month to get into position to challenge for a playoff spot. They knew this was a must-win game because they had lost to Dallas in the season opener after turning over the ball six times.
They also knew the Cowboys were facing questions after a blowout loss to New Orleans before a bye week.
Romo and his team answered them at the end of a week in which owner Jerry Jones said coach Jason Garrett would return next season.
True to form, New York tried another comeback after falling behind 21-6 in the third quarter.
But Romo took it from the Giants on the final drive that started at the Dallas 20 on a cold and blustery day. He hit Dez Bryant on a 19-yard pass on third-and-8 and added throws of 17 yards to Miles Austin and 13 to Cole Beasley, the latter on third-and-10 from the New York 28.
With the wind howling, a long field goal would have been tough. Instead, that play gave Dallas a first down at the 15 and Bailey converted after Romo took a couple of kneel-downs.
The Giants’ tying drive was kept alive by a 22-yard pass from Manning to Victor Cruz on third-and-8 from the Dallas 27. Before that, the Cowboys seemingly took control with a 65-yard drive Romo capped with his second touchdown pass to Witten. The drive continued because of a roughing-the-passer penalty against Mathias Kiwanuka on a play that Beasley fumbled after a catch at the Giants 20 and New York recovered.
Manning’s 27-yard pass to tight end Brandon Myers brought New York within 21-13. The final 10 yards were covered after safety Jeff Heath and linebacker Bruce Carter failed to touch Myers after he fell catching the ball. He got up and scored.
The Giants handed the Cowboys the season opener, committing six turnovers in a 36-31 loss. Two of those miscues were returned for touchdowns and two others led to 10 points.
New York continued its charity in the rematch.
Cruz caught a pass near midfield and had the ball stripped by Orlando Scandrick. Heath picked it up and had a clear-path to the end zone.
The fumble return started a run of four straight scores.
Manning hit Rueben Randle on passes of 21 and 22 yards to set up Josh Brown’s 21-yard field goal. Romo sandwiched passes of 14 and 17 yards to running back DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar around a 30-yard run by Murray on the next drive, setting up a 20-yard TD pass to a wide-open Witten.
Runs of 9 and 37 yards by Brandon Jacobs on consecutive plays got New York to the Dallas 4, but it settled for another short field goal.
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