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McFadden's big game goes to waste in Cowboys' loss

Dallas wide receiver Cole Beasley muffed a late fourth-quarter punt, ending the Cowboys' chances of a two-minute drill in Sunday's 27-20 loss at the New York Giants. Here's what you need to know:

  1. Matt Cassel shook off three interceptions in a five-pass span to tie the game at 20 with a touchdown toss to a toe-tapping Devin Street in the middle of the fourth quarter. Those good vibrations lasted just a few seconds before special teams ace Dwayne Harris came back to haunt his former team with the first 100-yard return touchdown by a Giants player in more than 50 years. Minutes later, Beasley sealed the game with the muffed punt, leaving Dallas to lament Harris' presence on the opposite sideline.
  1. Darren McFadden excelled in the workhorse role after Joseph Randle left early with a back strain. Paced by a hard-charging McFadden consistently moving the chains against a stout run defense, the Cowboys dominated time of possession (38:04 to 21:56), total yards (460 to 289) and first downs (27-13). McFadden generated 162 yards and a score on 31 touches. He would have added another 31-yard touchdown on a screen pass if not for a questionable Street penalty. McFadden played well enough to earn a larger share of the backfield pie going forward.
  1. Although Cassel's interceptions ultimately sunk the Cowboys, he proved to be an upgrade on Brandon Weeden on short and intermediate passes, allowing him to move the offense more consistently. Owner Jerry Jones confirmed after the game that Cassel will remain the starter until Tony Romo's return. Jones expects Romo back for the Buccaneers game in Week 10, while Dez Bryant reported no ill-effects after his pregame warmup on Sunday. As frustrating as Sunday's loss was, Jones has to count himself lucky that no one has run away with this division while his stars watch from the sidelines.
  1. The Giants' backfield is a full-blown committee. A healthy Rashad Jennings watched Orleans Darkwa outplay him for a significant stretch of the game. Shane Vereen remains the primary pass-catching back, while Andre Williams' role continues to shrink. It would be no surprise if Jennings loses his grip on the starting job. He's shown a marked decrease in playmaking ability this season.
  1. Greg Hardy took the team lead in sacks six quarters into his season. On the flip side, he came unglued on the sidelines in the fourth quarter, screaming at teammates and coaches. Clad in street clothes, Bryant gave Hardy an earful to (temporarily?) end the episode. A frustrated Hardy answered "no comment" to a series of questions after the game.
  1. Alone in first place at 4-3, the Giants draw the dregs of the NFC South (at Saints, at Buccaneers) before tangling with the undefeated Patriots in Week 10. They would be well served to build a more comfortable lead before Romo returns to Dallas' huddle.
  1. Odell Beckham almost broke the internet -- again. Beating the same defender (Brandon Carr) at the same spot on the field (just in front of the pylon) as last year's life-changing Catch, Beckham nearly pulled in a spectacular one-handed touchdown that would have been good for 30 yards. Carr got away with rather obvious pass interference on the play.
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