Cowboys force six turnovers, hold off Giants
Arlington, TX (Sports Network) - Many in Big D wondered whether the 73-year- old Monte Kiffin could still get his defense to generate a plethora of turnovers.
The ageless one won't be questioned again anytime soon.
Especially after he helped end the curse at "Jerry's World."
Brandon Carr's game-sealing 49-yard interception return for touchdown late in the fourth quarter lifted the Dallas Cowboys to a 36-31 triumph over the New York Giants on Sunday night.
New York were down by as many as 17 in the third quarter, but the Giants whittled away at the margin and had the ball with 2:41 left and trailing, 30-24.
On a 1st-and-10 at their own 48, though, Eli Manning's pass intended for Da'Rel Scott went off his hands and into the arms of Carr, who scampered in for Dallas' second defensive touchdown to make it 36-24 with 1:50 to go.
The Giants, who had been unbeaten in four prior trips to the $1.2 billion AT&T Stadium, tallied three of their six turnovers within the first 6:10 of the game.
"You're not going to win anything with minus-five in turnovers," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said. "There's no way."
The Cowboys (1-0), coming off a pair of 8-8 campaigns and a third straight year missing the postseason, decided to make the change from Rob Ryan's intricate 3-4 scheme to Kiffin's 4-3 Tampa 2.
Dallas' defense forced a franchise-low 16 giveaways under the leadership of Ryan last season.
During Kiffin's tenure as the defensive coordinator of the powerhouse Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-2008, his defense averaged 19 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries and 39 sacks a year.
"It's been a huge point of emphasis," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said of the turnovers. "That was the difference in the ballgame."
Barry Church forced a fumble and returned one 27 yards for a score for the Cowboys, who also made some changes on the offensive side of the ball as Garrett relinquished his play-calling duties to new offensive coordinator Bill Callahan.
Tony Romo, who inked a six-year contract extension in late March, was 36-of-49 for 263 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the triumph. Jason Witten caught eight passes for 70 yards and two scores, Miles Austin tallied 72 yards on 10 receptions and DeMarco Murray ran for 86 yards on 20 carries.
Manning was 27-of-42 for 450 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions for New York (0-1), which has missed the playoffs in three of its last four seasons. Victor Cruz registered 118 yards receiving and three scores on five receptions in defeat.
Church's defensive score in the third preceded another Giants miscue a few minutes later when a Chris Jones punt bounced and ricocheted off of Trumaine McBride, who was blocking on the return. Devonte Holloman recovered the loose ball for Dallas and Romo hit Witten for a 4-yard TD reception to stake Dallas a 27-10 advantage with 4:55 left in the quarter.
Manning's 18-yard scoring strike to Cruz near the end of the third and another one to him midway through the fourth, a 10-yard score, were wrapped around Dan Bailey's 45-yard field goal to pull New York within 30-24 with 8:54 to play.
Earlier, despite Dallas forcing the three quick New York giveaways in the opening frame, the Cowboys only managed to score once on Bailey's 30-yard field goal on their first possession of the contest.
Dallas drove deep into New York territory later in the stanza. The Cowboys faced a 3rd-and-11 at the 14, but Ryan Mundy intercepted Romo's pass and returned it 91 yards down to the Dallas 1-yard line.
New York, though, was unable to punch the ball across the goal line and settled with a Josh Brown 20-yard field goal to tie the score.
Bailey answered Brown's boot with a 38-yarder on Dallas' next touch, and following a Giants three-and-out, Romo capped a nine-play, 71-yard trek with a 15-yard TD strike to Witten for a 13-3 Dallas spread.
Manning hit Cruz for a 70-yard score down the left sideline four plays later to get the Giants within 13-10 heading into the break.
In the final minute of the first half, Romo temporarily left the game after having the wind knocked out of him after Mathias Kiwanuka and Justin Trattou sandwiched him ... Dallas held a 37:10-22:50 edge in time of possession.
09/09 01:45:49 ET