IRVING, Texas (AP)—The New York Giants aren’t just winning. They’re doing the kind of things winning teams do.
Like making a stand on fourth-and-1 deep in their own territory, then again at midfield in the fourth quarter. Like using a drive-reviving defensive penalty as a springboard to the go-ahead touchdown. And not giving up on Tiki Barber after a slow start, leading to a 58-yard run on that pivotal drive.
It was New York’s fourth win, all in a row since losing its opener. The significant part is that the Giants won only four games last season, so this sends them into their bye with a lot to celebrate.
That is, if tough-to-please coach Tom Coughlin lets them.
“It’s nice to be where we are, but we haven’t done anything yet,” Barber said. “We just have to continue to improve and make strides.”
At game’s end, Coughlin ran to shake hands with Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, his former boss and sometimes nemesis. This was Coughlin’s second win against him in five tries.
Then Parcells blamed himself for the failed fourth-down attempts, although he added he wouldn’t have needed to try creating momentum if Dallas (2-2) had played better.
In addition to 11 penalties, the Cowboys’ first fourth-down failure left them with no points after driving to New York’s 5 and they squandered a 2-minute drill before halftime with a fumble that led to Christie’s second field goal.
“We’re just stupid,” Parcells said. “We’re just dumb.”
A tight game for 2 1/2 quarters tilted toward the Giants when a questionable roughing-the-punter penalty gave them a fresh start from their 28.
Jeff Feagles drew the flag by dropping his leg on top of Dallas’ Keith Davis, who was crouching to avoid contact. Feagles fell, then got up and complained, helping convince officials he’d been decked.
“It’s my fault for being too close to him,” Davis said. “I think that play right there cost us the game.”
Actually, the next play hurt just as much.
Barber had just 26 yards on 10 carries at that point, but came back with his long burst down the left sideline. Two personal fouls against the Cowboys kept the drive alive and Kurt Warner capped it with a 1-yard pass to Jeremy Shockey, putting New York up 13-10.
Dallas answered by reaching the Giants 27, then Osi Umenyiora sacked Vinny Testaverde on third down. Forced to try a 52-yard field goal, Billy Cundiff came up short. New York turned it into a 47-yarder by Christie.
Then Parcells panicked.
Down only six with about 10:30 left, he opted to go on fourth-and-1 from his 43. A swing pass to fullback Darian Barnes was stopped for no gain.
“He showed some confidence in us and we let him down,” Testaverde said.
Coughlin’s knowledge of Parcells may have paid off as New York’s defense spread the field instead of packing the middle, as it did on the first try—a run, like the Giants were expecting.
“It’s almost an insult to our defense when guys go for it on fourth down,” New York defensive end Michael Strahan said.
Christie capped the ensuing possession with a 26-yarder, making him 4-for-4 after an ugly three-miss performance the previous week.
Barber put the game away on the next drive, first by turning a third-and-10 pass into a 55-yard gain, then with a 3-yard touchdown run. It was the first TD rushing against Dallas in 28 quarters.
Barber, the league leader in all-purpose yards and No. 2 in rushing, had 76 yards on five receptions in addition to his 23 carries.
The Cowboys came out showing they’d used their bye week to fix a woeful running game. Eddie George, ReShard Lee and Richie Anderson all had their longest gains of the season before halftime and the team had its season-best total by the end of the third quarter. Dallas finished with 166 yards, 75 by George.
But the passing game that had been so good failed the Cowboys.
Testaverde was just 15-of-24 for 126 yards, with a 7-yard touchdown to Keyshawn Johnson the lone highlight. ^Notes: The Giants lost DT Fred Robbins (sprained shoulder) and WR Tim Carter (hip). … Dallas WR Antonio Bryant (leg) was hurt on one of the final plays, but there was no immediate update. CB Bruce Thornton, who was making his NFL debut, may have sustained a season-ending knee injury. .. At halftime, the Cowboys inducted Rayfield Wright and Cliff Harris into their Ring of Honor.