EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Dallas Cowboys’ switch to Matt Cassel at quarterback was designed to get the offense going.
But with his ability to throw down the field came a downside and the Cowboys saw that with three interceptions of Cassel in their 27-20 loss to the Giants Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The first interception, which was returned by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for a touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter, was not his fault. Terrance Williams did not run a good route, allowing Rodgers-Cromartie to jump the pass.
The second pick was caught in the wind at the Giants’ goal line by Brandon Meriweather on a deep ball to Williams. The Giants turned that into a field goal after consecutive plays of 44 and 39 yards got New York out of trouble. The third pick was forced to Brice Butler underneath, which Rodgers-Cromartie picked off on the first play of the fourth quarter.
There was some good – the touchdown pass to Devin Street and longer throws to Williams and Jason Witten, but not nearly enough to negate the bad and it leaves the Cowboys with their longest losing streak since 2010. Once 2-0, the Cowboys are now 2-4 and can only hope they will still have a chance when Dez Bryant and Tony Romo return.
Not so special: Dwayne Harris burned his former team with a 100-yard kickoff return for a score after the Cowboys tied it up with 7:14 to play on a Cassel touchdown throw. Harris was barely touched on his scamper up the middle, easily outracing kicker Dan Bailey, the last Dallas tackler. Entering the game, the Cowboys had just three kick returns against them all season. The Cowboys’ chances for a miracle comeback were negated when Cole Beasley fumbled a punt, allowing the Giants to run out the clock. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.
What were they thinking? On the Cowboys’ first series of the game, they were able to use the run game to get down to the Giants 12, mixing in Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and even Lucky Whitehead. But on second-and-3 from the New York 12, Cassel’s throw to Butler was high and wide and a third-down throw to Witten was off. The Cowboys went away from what got them down there and had to settle for a field goal. While getting points out of an opening drive is good, a touchdown would have sent a message.
One reason to get excited: McFadden had the look of the odd man out in the backfield by committee with Christine Michael expected to get more work, but when Randle suffered a low-back strain, the call went to McFadden. He had his first 100-yard game since 2013 and the first for a Cowboy this season. Depending on the severity of the injury to Randle, who did not return, McFadden’s run as the No. 1 back could continue.
One reason to panic: At some point the Cowboys have to get a takeaway, right? Well, they do see Sam Bradford in two weeks. The Cowboys have now gone four consecutive games without forcing a turnover. The Cowboys had a Byron Jones interception turned over by replay.
Lucky hand: Whitehead is a receiver, but he made his impact as a runner. He had a 15-yard gain on the first series of the game on a jet sweep and finished the game with four carries for 35 yards. So far this season, he has one catch for minus-3 yards.