Smothering Defensive Effort Allows Cowboys To Escape In Overtime, Beat Giants 16-13
Jose Cortez didn’t know it at the time, but he was only eight days away from being released as the Dallas Cowboys’ place-kicker. For now, though, he was lining up for a 45-yard overtime field goal trying to dispel the sour taste which recent events had left upon his resume. In San Francisco two weeks before, he dared to criticize the hold by backup quarterback Tony Romo after missing an extra-point try, and was duly punched by mammoth offensive lineman Larry Allen.
Back home in Texas Stadium in a first-place battle with the New York Giants, Cortez’s first four quarters had been anything but stellar. After missing a 48-yarder early in the first half, Cortez had another field goal blocked on the final play of the first half.
So there was nothing automatic about this 45-yard attempt in overtime…until it went through the uprights and gave the 2005 Dallas Cowboys a 16-13 victory and Cortez something tangible to hang his hat on.
It was a euphoric ending for an up-and-down afternoon that nearly cost the Cowboys an inter-division matchup it had no business losing. Behind a persistent running attack from Anthony Thomas and Marion Barber, and a 312-yard passing effort from quarterback Drew Bledsoe, the Cowboys controlled the ball for more than 40 minutes. But four turnovers and a host of other mistakes put the onus on the Dallas defense to keep the league’s highest scoring offense in check.
Through the game’s first three quarters they proved up to the challenge, as they limited the New York offense to 92 total yards and only four first downs while forcing three turnovers.
A Bledsoe-to-Jason Witten touchdown pass put the Cowboys ahead 7-6 late in the second quarter, and two chip-shot field goals from Cortez in the fourth quarter gave them a seven-point advantage with under five minutes remaining.
But the New York offense awoke, as Eli Manning led a drive that reached the Dallas 1-yard line. That’s when Dallas safety hammered Giants running back Brandon Jacobs at the line of scrimmage and forced a fumble which the Cowboys recovered. It was the fourth time New York was inside the Dallas red-zone, and the fourth time they had failed to come away with a touchdown.
After a Dallas punt, though, the Giants had one last opportunity, needing 52 yards in 52 seconds. They covered that distance in two plays, Manning connecting with Plaxico Burress for 28 yards followed by a 24-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Jeremy Shockey to tie the game.
In overtime Dallas won the coin toss, and Bledsoe calmly orchestrated an inspirational final drive, using completions of 10, 13, and 26 yards to get within Cortez’s range.
In a game in which he notched his 700th career reception, Cowboys receiver Keyshawn Johnson tallied eight grabs totaling 120 yards….Left tackle Flozell Adams left the game with a knee injury in the third quarter, and missed the rest of the season….The win moved the Cowboys to 4-2 on the season, and was their second straight victory within the NFC East.