ARLINGTON, Texas -- The New York Giants kept giving the Dallas Cowboys the ball on Sunday night in a season opener. It was only a matter of time before Dallas started doing something of substance with the gifts.
Tony Romo and the Cowboys took advantage of six turnovers to hold off the Giants 36-31 before 85,348 fans at AT&T Stadium. The win was the first for Dallas in five tries against New York in the Cowboys' $1.2 billion home.
The six turnovers led to 24 Dallas points, 21 coming in the second half. Romo passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns, both to Jason Witten. Romo left the game late in the first half after getting the wind knocked out of him but returned to start the third quarter.
The six turnovers, three in each half, were the most by a Dallas opponent since 2003. The Cowboys had promised during the offseason that turnovers would be a focus under new defensive coordinator
Giants quarterback Eli Manning did his best to overcome the turnovers, which included three interceptions. The two-time Super Bowl winner connected with Victor Cruz for three touchdowns as New York tried to rally down the stretch.
The Giants coughed the ball up twice in the third quarter, allowing Dallas to go up 27-10. David Wilson's second fumble -- and New York's fourth turnover -- was returned 27 yards by Barry Church for a touchdown.
A muffed punt by Trumaine McBride gave Dallas another golden opportunity at the New York 16. Two plays later, Romo found Witten in the end zone.
The Giants answered with an 80-yard march, punctuated by Manning's second touchdown pass to Cruz. They hooked up again in the fourth quarter to get New York within 30-24 with nearly nine minutes left.
The Giants had the ball with less than three minutes left, but Manning's third interception was returned 49 yards for a touchdown by Brandon Carr to seal Dallas' win. The pass bounced off backup running back Da'Rel Scott.
The Cowboys said
"We have to find a way to take away the ball from the offense. We've been emphasizing that." -- Linebacker Sean Lee.
The Giants said
"We get the game 30-24 and the ball is at midfield, you've got to go win the game." -- Coach Tom Coughlin.
What we learned about the Cowboys:
1. Monte Kiffin's defense is a turnover-producing machine so far. The promise of Kiffin's new 4-3, Tampa-2 scheme was an uptick in turnovers, and the defensive forced five in the opener. Two were returned for touchdowns, including the clinching interception by Brandon Carr. The Cowboys didn't have at least three turnovers in any game last season.
2. The Giants' curse may be over. Dallas had yet to beat New York on its home turf since moving into AT&T Stadium, formerly Cowboys Stadium, in 2009. The Cowboys were 0-4 in their new yard against the Giants before Sunday night. "It feels good to win at home," Dallas' DeMarco Murray said.
What we learned about the Giants:
1. They have fight. Despite six turnovers and a 17-point deficit, the Giants didn't give in. New York had the ball near midfield with two minutes left and down six, needing a touchdown to win. "They played hard, they believe in each other, they fight for each other," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "There's no finger-pointing. We have a good team. We have good leadership."
2. Running back David Wilson had better learn how to hold on to the ball if he wants to hold on to his starting job. He fumbled the ball away twice, leading to 10 Dallas points, and was pulled out of the game. Coughlin said it's too early to decide whether Wilson starts next week but added, "He's still very much in our plans. He's got to play. He's a very talented young man."