8:30 PM ET, September 8, 2013
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Carr returned an interception 49 yards for the clinching touchdown, and the Cowboys overcame a big night from Manning to beat him for the first time at their fancy $1.2 billion stadium in a 36-31 victory Sunday night.
Manning threw three touchdown passes to Victor Cruz and four overall, and he had New York in position for a comeback victory despite the flurry of mistakes.
But with the Giants trailing 30-24, Manning's pass went off the hand of running back Da'Rel Scott into Carr's arms.
The cornerback beat Manning down the sideline with 1:50 left for Dallas' second defensive touchdown. Barry Church returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
"It's infectious. It's contagious," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We challenged them at halftime. We had three, let's get three more."
The Cowboys had only 16 turnovers all last year, switched to a four-man front with new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and swore all preseason that taking the ball away was the foremost thing on their minds. They proved it from the first snap of the season.
DeMarcus Ware intercepted Manning's first pass, and the Giants turned it over on their first three possessions. The Cowboys didn't take advantage of the early gifts, but built a big enough lead to hold off a New York comeback once the Giants finally stopped turning it over.
It matched the most turnovers for the Giants since 1987, when they had seven against New Orleans. And it was the most Dallas has forced since 2003.
"Just tells you our system is so much built on attitude," said defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who was defensive coordinator for Chicago last year when the Bears led the NFL with 44 turnovers. "We had a lot of guys play tonight who jumped in and helped us. It's just team defense."
Church scored on the fourth New York turnover -- the second fumble from new starting running back David Wilson, who lost control of the ball on a strip by Nick Hayden just before hitting the ground. Church scooped up the ball and ran it in.
The Cowboys went up 27-10 in the third quarter after the fifth miscue -- a punt that bounced and hit Trumaine McBride while he was trying to block for the return. Rookie DeVonte Holloman won a scramble for the loose ball, and Romo threw a 4-yard scoring pass to Witten.
"I just think it's pretty exciting to see what our team defensively has been able to do here, in training camp, preseason and into the season," Romo said.
When the mistakes stopped, the Giants made it a game again. New York went 80 yards, capped by Cruz's second score on an 18-yard pass, and Cruz scored again from the 10 to pull the Giants to 30-24 midway through the fourth quarter.
New York got the ball back, but the Cowboys forced a quick punt. After Dallas again failed to move the ball, Carr came through with the clinching interception.
"You're not going to win the game turning the ball over five times and muffing a punt," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "I'm totally, totally disappointed, embarrassed about that football. That's sloppy, sloppy football."
The Giants scored with 11 seconds left on Manning's fourth touchdown, a 4-yarder to Brandon Myers. But Dallas recovered an onside kick.
Romo was 36 of 49 for 263 yards, and Miles Austin had 10 catches for 72 yards. Witten, who had only three touchdowns last year, had eight grabs for 70 and became the third tight end in NFL history with 9,000 yards receiving. DeMarco Murray had 86 yards rushing for Dallas.
Romo threw a 15-yard TD pass to Witten before halftime, and Dan Bailey also had two field goals (30 and 38 yards) by then for a 13-10 lead.
In the final minute of the first half, Romo was hit in the ribs and had the wind knocked out after being crushed between Mathias Kiwanuka and Justin Trattou after throwing an incompletion. Kyle Orton came on to finish the half, but Romo was back after halftime.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Romo didn't receive any treatment, and that the medical staff cleared him to play.
"One tough player, one tough man," Jones said. "He will go out and play in pain and play hurt."
After Manning's second interception, this one by new Cowboys safety Will Allen, Dallas had third-and-11 at the Giants 14.
Romo threw a pass toward rookie Terrance Williams that instead deflected off the Giants' Prince Amukamara into the arms of New York teammate Ryan Mundy, who raced 91 yards. He was caught from behind by Murray at the 1.
The crowd of 85,348 was significantly smaller than the NFL regular-season record crowd of 105,121 that watched the first Giants game at the stadium in its 2009 debut. ... Amukamara was knocked out of the game with a concussion after a helmet-on-helmet collision with Mundy, who was cleared to return.
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 08: Fernando Vargas of Denton, Texas grills food outside of AT&T Stadium before a...(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from Penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||8.1||4.5|
Comp - Att
Yards per pass
Sacks - Yards Lost
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||3-5||2-4|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||2|
|FG||13:04||Dan Bailey 30 Yd||0||3|
|FG||02:02||Josh Brown 20 Yd||3||3|
|FG||10:02||Dan Bailey 38 Yd||3||6|
|TD||02:55||Jason Witten 15 Yd Pass From Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick)||3||13|
|TD||01:50||Victor Cruz 70 Yd Pass From Eli Manning (Josh Brown Kick)||10||13|
|TD||12:31||Barry Church 27 Yd Fumble Return (Dan Bailey Kick)||10||20|
|TD||04:55||Jason Witten 4 Yd Pass From Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick)||10||27|
|TD||01:44||Victor Cruz 18 Yd Pass From Eli Manning (Josh Brown Kick)||17||27|
|FG||12:10||Dan Bailey 45 Yd||17||30|
|TD||08:47||Victor Cruz 10 Yd Pass From Eli Manning (Josh Brown Kick)||24||30|
|TD||01:50||Brandon Carr 49 Yd Interception Return (Two-Point Pass Conversion Failed)||24||36|
|TD||00:11||Brandon Myers 4 Yd Pass From Eli Manning (Josh Brown Kick)||31||36|
Victor Cruz's 70-yd TD catch in the 2nd quarter was his 7th TD reception of at least 70 yards since 2011. That's 4 more than any other player in that span.
The Cowboys' new play caller Bill Callahan kept it short for Tony Romo. Of Romo's 49 passing attempts, 33 of them were thrown 5 yards or fewer downfield (67%), his largest percentage of passes thrown within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage in a game since 2008. Romo's final 8 completions were within 5 yards, and he completed 85% of such attempts (73% last season, 4th-best in NFL).
The Giants running backs had a hand in 4 of the team's 6 turnovers as Eli Manning threw two interceptions targeting his backs, on top of David Wilson's 2 fumbles lost. Eli did not throw an interception on a throw to a running back all of last season (56 attempts). The Giants running core collected 93 total yards, nearly 43 fewer yards than their 2012 average.[+]
Giants Running Back Offense, Sunday
The Cowboys improve to just 3-5 all-time when Romo drops back to pass at least 50 times... They were 0-2 against the Giants when he dropped back at least 50 times
This is the 2nd time since the merger (in 1970) that the Giants have had at least 5 turnovers in a season opener. The only other time came in 1983 vs the Rams (also 5).
The Cowboys have forced 4 turnovers tonight, twice as many as they had in any game last season. It is the first time they forced 4 turnovers in a game since Week 10, 2011 against the Bills.
New defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin has switched the Cowboys' defense into a base 4-3 and will implement the "Tampa 2" defense. NEXT LEVEL: The Cowboys allowed the fourth-worst completion percentage on passes more than 20 yards downfield last season, and were the only team without an interception on those throws.[+]
Cowboys Completion Percentage Allowed - Passes More Than 20 Yards Downfield, Last 4 Seasons
ESPN Stats & Information