ARLINGTON, Tex. — A dramatic finish would eventually unfold, but Dallas Cowboys fans wanted instant gratification Sunday. And after Tony Romo had thrown three interceptions and Dez Bryant had fumbled away a punt, a crowd announced at 94,067 also wanted its displeasure to be heard.
“I would have booed us, too,” Romo said. “We deserved it at that time.”
The Cowboys’ body language matched their sluggish start as they fell behind the Giants by 23 points early in the second quarter. Still, after the Cowboys nearly overcame that deficit, and six turnovers in all, the mood among them was that they had let the Giants escape with a 29-24 victory.
The Cowboys thought they had won with 10 seconds to play, when Romo’s heave into the end zone was hauled in by Bryant and officials signaled a touchdown. But replays showed that Bryant’s right hand landed out of bounds and the call was reversed, giving the Cowboys (3-4) a season split with the Giants (6-2) and dropping Dallas into a tie for second with the Philadelphia Eagles in the N.F.C. East.
The Giants also remained unbeaten at Cowboys Stadium, improving to 4-0 since it opened in 2009.
“It hurts for you to know you played your heart out,” Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr said. “We got off to a late start. We woke up late. To have the game end the way it ended and to get it taken away from you, it hurts.”
Dallas’s defense limited Eli Manning and the Giants, even with good field position, to five field goals and a rushing touchdown, and allowed only 293 yards. The Giants’ other score was provided by their own defense.
“The emotions were crazy,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “We really wanted this game. But as a unit, as a team, we didn’t do enough, we didn’t make enough plays. We didn’t go that extra mile to get the job done.”
Romo was 36 of 62 for 437 yards, ran for one touchdown and passed for another, but also threw four interceptions. Tight end Jason Witten caught 18 passes, a team record, but with a stunning comeback seemingly in reach, Dallas derailed itself with questionable play-calling.
The Cowboys reached the Giants’ 28-yard line with 1 minute 27 seconds to play, and on first down Romo connected with Witten for a 9-yard gain. Needing only 1 yard for another set of downs, and with all three of their timeouts remaining, Dallas called three straight pass plays, and the series ended with Romo scrambling backward before heaving a desperation pass that was intercepted by Stevie Brown.
“We had a couple of plays called,” Romo said. “It’s dictated off coverage. They’re going to have a free guy if we run it. So you could bang it up there, but at the same time you could be wasting a play. It is what it is.”
The Giants’ victory is certain to fuel more criticism on how much of a home-field advantage the Cowboys really enjoy at their $1.2 billion stadium. They are now 14-13 since the retractable-domed structure opened in 2009 (compared with 14-14 on the road during that time). Cowboys management even addressed the issue last week with a letter to season-ticket holders, exhorting fans to make more noise, along with a new video that was shown on third downs to “help give our Dallas Cowboys a true home-field advantage.”
Instead, the crowd turned hostile toward the home team after Jason Pierre-Paul picked off Romo’s swing pass to running back Felix Jones and gave the Giants a 23-0 lead early in the second quarter. Romo was booed after every incompletion, and fans let Coach Jason Garrett know what they thought of his play-calling. Jerry Jones, the Cowboys’ owner, was also booed when he appeared on the video screen during a segment to promote breast cancer awareness.
“I’m the boo-ster,” Jones said. “The fans had the same feeling I did, frustrated and mad we had dug ourselves a big hole.”
He added: “I understand their frustration. I share their frustration.”