Giants end Cowboys’ Super Bowl quest

Giants end Cowboys Super Bowl quest

For most of the season, jubilant faces and raucous cheers filled the Dallas Cowboys locker room. After a 21-17 playoff loss to the New York Giants on Sunday, the sound of some loose change hitting the carpet floor would have been deafening.

The Cowboys entered the game with questions concerning key players Tony Romo and Terrell Owens. Would Romo’s Cabo getaway with starlet Jessica Simpson affect his play, and how serious was Owens’ bad ankle? However, the Cowboys didn’t lose this game because of outside distractions. False starts, personal fouls, and numerous dropped balls cost the Cowboys the win.

“We got ourselves in some bad situations. A lot of execution has to do with minimizing some of the negative plays, at least from an offensive stand-point. We weren’t able to do that and it got us in trouble,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said.

The Cowboys finished the game with 11 penalties for 84 yards. The string of penalties started on the Giants first possession of the game. The Cowboys appeared to stop the Giants on third down, but Linebacker DeMarcus Ware was called for off sides. Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning then threw a 52-yard touchdown to receiver Amani Toomer.

The Giants came to Dallas looking to prove they belonged on the same field with a Cowboys team that beat them twice during the regular season. When the Giants scored the first points of the game, they started to believe.

After a shaky first quarter, Romo and the Cowboys answered New York’s challenge.

Owens caught a five yard touchdown to tie the game, 7-7, early in the second quarter.

The Cowboys soon added another touchdown on Marion Barber’s 1-yard touchdown run, putting the Cowboys up 14-7 with 53 seconds to go in the half and what looked to be a secure halftime lead.

However, Manning and the Giants were able to march down the field and tie the game on another touchdown from Toomer, tying the game with seven seconds left in the half.

“That drive at the end of the half really killed us,” head coach Wade Phillips said.

One of the reasons the drive was able to kill the Cowboys was a 15-yard facemask penalty against Cowboys cornerback Jacque Reeves. Mistakes marred the day for the Cowboys on this Sunday. After the game, the always-smiling Romo stood at the podium, wondering how the season was over.

“It hurts. It’s tough right now,” Romo said.

In the fourth quarter, with the Cowboys trailing 21-17, the Giants administered some physical pain on the Cowboys leader. The amount of pressure the Giants’ defensive line put on Romo had the quarteback barking at officials after being peeled off the turf following several vicious hits.

The Giants are headed to their first NFC Championship game since 2000, a feat Manning is thrilled with.

“I won’t get tired of hearing that this week. No one’s given us much credit and probably still won’t, but that’s OK. We like it that way,” Manning said.

The Cowboys are now left to ponder what might have been. They are staring at 12 years without a playoff win, going 0-6 in that span. The last two losses, Seattle last season, and New York this year, were determined on the last play of the game.

On Sunday night, nobody in the Cowboys locker room was smiling.

The swagger that the team worked so hard to gain over 16 games had vanished.