ARLINGTON, Tex.—Tony Romo found Jason Witten for the winning touchdown after a series of Dallas mistakes put the N.Y. Giants in position to beat the Cowboys in an opener for the first time.
Now the Dallas quarterback has to figure out how to make the comeback turn into more victories without All-Pro receiver Dez Bryant, who will miss four-six weeks with a broken right foot.
“We’ll try to reassess that and figure out where to put guys,” Romo said after his 11-yard scoring toss to Witten with seven seconds left gave the Cowboys a 27-26 win over the Giants.
“No one can replace Dez Bryant but it’s my job to help that whole situation,” he noted.
The Cowboys drove 72 yards in 1:27 after stopping New York at the one-yard line and forcing Josh Brown’s fourth field goal when a touchdown would have sealed the Giants’ first victory in an opener against Dallas.
The defending NFC East champion Cowboys are 8-0 against their division rival in openers, and have beaten them five-straight times.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returned a fumble 57 yards for a touchdown, and the Giants had to go just a yard for their other TD after Trumaine McBride’s interception.
The Giants tried to throw on third down from the Dallas 1 with a 23-20 lead but the Cowboys weren’t fooled by the play-action fake.
Eli Manning threw the ball away instead of taking a sack—stopping the clock and giving Romo the final 1:34 to try to win.
“It was bad clock management,” admitted Manning, who had 193 yards passing with no touchdowns after throwing for 12 TDs in his previous four games against Dallas.
“It was definitely an option to take a sack and run 40 seconds off the clock and give them less time,” he remarked.
“That’s 100 percent on me.”
But Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin took the blame, as well.
“The decision to throw the ball on third down was not a good decision,” he said.
“It should have been a run, whether we scored or not.”
On the winning play, Romo picked up the ball after a low snap and found Witten, who finished with eight catches for 60 yards and two TDs, shielding defenders at the goal line.
The 13-year veteran made the catch, stayed on his feet, and left no doubt about getting the ball in the end zone for yet another huge connection between one of the most prolific quarterback-tight end combos in NFL history.
Elsewhere in the NFL, Green Bay beat Chicago 31-23, Kansas City downed Houston 27-20, St. Louis topped Seattle 34-31, the N.Y. Jets dumped Cleveland 31-10, Buffalo trounced Indianapolis 27-14, and Miami upended Washington 17-10.
Carolina beat Jacksonville 20-9, Arizona downed New Orleans 31-19, San Diego topped Detroit 33-28, Cincinnati dumped Oakland 33-13, Denver shaded Baltimore 19-13, and Tennessee routed Tampa Bay 42-14.
Tonight’s games pit Philadelphia at Atlanta and Minnesota visiting San Francisco.