Sunday, September 11, 2011
New York Jets 27, Dallas Cowboys 24
Cowboys blow a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter with turnovers and poor play.
The Dallas Cowboys accomplished something they had never done in 243 games Sunday night: lose a game in which they were ahead by 14 or more points in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys politely handed the game away to the New York Jets at Metlife Stadium, 27-24 to fall to 0-1 on the new season.
Leading 24-10 after Felix Jones ran it in from the one yard line following a Sean Lee interception at the end of the third quarter, the Cowboys proceeded to find new and inventive ways to give the ball back to the Jets for the rest of the game.
Taking the ball at their own 10 yard line following the kickoff, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez led his team down the field in just seven plays, capping it with a 26-yard strike to new acquisition Plaxico Burress to make it 24-17 Dallas. Dallas responded with a drive down to the Jets' two-yard line — which included a 64-yard catch-and-run from Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to tight end Jason Witten — but one third-and-goal, Romo tried to run it in from the eight and had the ball punched out from his hands, his first turnover of the game to that point.
The Jets recovered the fumble, then moved down to midfield before Sanchez was sacked and stripped of the ball himself with just over six minutes left in the game. Up by a touchdown and needing another score to put New York away, the Cowboys offense sputtered. Jones was caught behind the line for a two-yard loss, then Romo threw two incompletions sandwiching a pair of five-yard penalties.
Backed up to their own 41, the Dallas punting unit inexplicably allowed two Jets to sprint untouched up the middle on the ensuing punt. The punt was blocked; Isiah Trufant recovered and ran it in from the 18 for the tying touchdown.
Dallas got the ball back with five minutes left but got just one first down — while running nearly three minutes off the clock — and the Jets returned the favor, and the Cowboys got the ball back on their own 41 with 49 seconds remaining.
Romo then committed his worst decision of the game at that point, tossing the ball into double-coverage along the sideline. Jets' all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis made one of the easiest interceptions of his career and ran it down to the Dallas 34 before going out of bounds. After a quick three-and-out, Jets kicker (and former Cowboy) Nick Folk made the game-winning 50-yard field goal.
The Cowboys did not have a bad game statistically. Romo went 23-of-36 for 352 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, while his main target Jason Witten had six catches for 110 yards. Dez Bryant had 71 yards and a touchdown, while Miles Austin chipped in four catches for 83 yards and a touchdown of his own, in which he and Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie came down with the ball in the end zone simultaneously.
The Cowboys' running game, which was the glaring weakness in a massively disappointing season last year, was again an afterthought, as Dallas ran just 26 times for a paltry 64 yards.
Mark Sanchez also had a good game statistically, going 26-of-44 for 335 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Sanchez was especially good in the second half, after a first quarter in which he completed less than half his passes and amassed just 35 yards.
Dallas' next game is against their former rivals the 49ers, in San Francisco. The 49ers defeated a hapless Seattle Seahawks team 33-17 on Sunday.