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Cowboys top Giants in OT 16-13

IRVING, Texas (Oct. 16, 2005) -- The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants wanted to find out which of them looked ready to challenge for supremacy in the NFC East.

The Cowboys won, but the answer to the bigger question might be neither.

Dallas committed four turnovers, missed two field goals and allowed a tying touchdown with 19 seconds left, yet overcame it all with a 45-yard field goal by Jose Cortez on the opening drive of overtime for a 16-13 victory against the equally inept Giants.

"I feel pretty fortunate," Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said.

He should.

Coming off a throttling victory against the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas (4-2) gave New York every chance to put this game away early.

But Eli Manning and the Giants (3-2) couldn't do it. They trailed 7-6 midway through the third quarter after the Cowboys had already committed all of their turnovers. Then New York started giving the ball away: four turnovers in five drives, including a fumble at the Dallas 1 with 1:18 left while down by seven.

"We just shot ourselves in the foot," Manning said. "We were letting them get the best of us."

Keeping with the game's theme, the Cowboys wasted their chances, too. Manning wound up throwing a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey that forced overtime.

Dallas won the overtime coin toss and never gave the ball back. Bledsoe moved the Cowboys 51 yards in eight plays and Cortez made it pay off, giving them back-to-back victories for the first time this season -- and first place in the NFC East.

"It was luck; totally luck," Dallas receiver Keyshawn Johnson said. "We're entitled to have a bad game and still win, at least once."

The flip side was felt in the New York locker room, where the only solace was knowing the rematch will be Dec. 4 at Giants Stadium.

"This feels like a blown opportunity," defensive end Michael Strahan said. "We should've won. ... You're not going to win when you handicap yourself."

Bledsoe finished 26-for-37 for 312 yards, with a touchdown, an interception and two lost fumbles, one on a snap.

Johnson caught eight passes for 120 yards, his most since 2002, but also fumbled, although it did not prompt a sideline confrontation with Bledsoe, as happened last week. This time, Bledsoe was the first to console Johnson.

Anthony Thomas started in place of injured Julius Jones and ran 21 times for 47 yards. Rookie Marion Barber III was Dallas' most effective running back in the second half, finishing with 30 yards on 11 carries and two receptions for 21 yards.

Manning was 14-for-30 for 215 yards and a touchdown, but he ended a streak of 125 attempts without an interception and lost a fumble.

Shockey caught five passes for 129 yards and Plaxico Burress had 55 yards on five catches, with a fumble. Tiki Barber gained 64 yards on 14 carries.

Dallas limited New York to 92 yards and four first downs through three quarters. The Giants didn't convert on third down until there was less than four minutes left in the game and finished 1-for-11.

"The offense really let down the defense," Shockey said. "We left them out there on the field too long."

While neither team was able to grab control, the Cowboys should've known better. They dominated Washington for 56 minutes in Week 2, then gave up two long touchdown passes and lost 14-13.

The Cowboys bailed themselves out of one jam when Roy Williams knocked the ball from rookie running back Brandon Jacobs just shy of the goal line with 1:18 left. However, that forced Bledsoe to take snaps practically in the end zone, and he couldn't run out the clock. That gave Manning the ball with 52 yards and 52 seconds to go, leading to the tying score.

Bledsoe opened overtime by completing passes of 10, 13 and 26 yards. A pass-interference penalty on Antonio Pierce gave Dallas another first down, then a third-down incompletion to Johnson left it up to Cortez.

New York tried icing him with a timeout, but -- like most things both teams tried -- it didn't work.

GAME NOTES:

The Giants fell to 3-14 in games following a bye.
Cowboys WR Patrick Crayton left the locker room with a cast on his right foot. Parcells said the ankle might be broken.
Giants K Jay Feely made a 50-yard field goal, his longest since 2002.
Johnson became the 22nd WR with 700 catches, hitting the milestone with a one-handed grab while falling after a DB dropped it.
New York failed to score on its opening drive for the first time this season.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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