EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants had four second-half takeaways and scored two return touchdowns to beat the Dallas Cowboys 27-20 on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The Cowboys (2-4) lost four games in a row and fumbled away a chance at a game-tying drive in the final minute when wide receiver Cole Beasley fumbled a punt.
It was the first win for the Giants (4-3) in the NFC East rivalry in the past six meetings. Dwayne Harris’ 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown gave the Giants their winning margin.
Harris, who spent the first four years of his career with the Cowboys, tied a Giants franchise record for the longest kickoff return for a touchdown, set by Clarence Childs on Dec. 6, 1964.
“We’ve been overdue for a long time,” Harris said. “We’ve always been one block away, one man away, but tonight it was blocked perfectly. Anybody could have run through the hole that was made.”
Cowboys quarterback Matt Cassel was picked off three times by the Giants, twice by cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who had a 58-yard pick-6 in the third quarter to give the Giants a 17-13 lead.
Giants safety Brandon Meriweather also intercepted Cassel at the 1-yard line to snuff out a Cowboys scoring drive.
“He did a lot of good things in this game,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of
Cassel, who made his first start for the Cowboys in place of Brandon Weeden. “I thought he handled himself well, was composed, and had poise. Obviously the three big plays for him were the interceptions.”
The Cowboys jumped out to an immediate 3-0 lead on the first of kicker Dan Bailey’s two field goals.
Dallas running back Darren McFadden, who rushed for 152 yards on 29 carries, scored the first touchdown for the Cowboys.
The Giants’ lethargic running game got a much-needed shot of adrenaline thanks to the fresh legs of fourth-string running back Orleans Darkwa, who rushed for 41 yards on four carries, including a touchdown, with 11:10 left in the second quarter.
Darkwa, who finished with 48 yards on eight carries, and running back Shane Vereen, whose 39-yard run in the third quarter helped set up Josh Brown’s 34-yard field goal, helped snap streak of six games in which the Giants ground game failed to reach the 100-yard mark.
“It’s nothing new,” Darkwa said of the spark he provided the running game. “I got some experience last year and in preseason, so it wasn’t anything new. Just act like I’ve been there before was my mentality, and make something good happen.”
Cassel, who went 17 of 27 for 227 yards, delivered a beautiful 25-yard pass from to receiver Devin Street in the back of the endzone for a touchdown to cap a 9-play, 80-yard drive, but it was 20-20 for only the length of the television break. Harris returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for the game-winner.
“We had a big third-down conversion and I saw Street get behind the guy and tried to get him the ball,” Cassel said of the game-tying, fourth quarter touchdown. “I was able to put it up and he made a tremendous catch. I think it was a good way to respond; I think it shows the resiliency of the team.”
The Giants are at New Orleans next week and Tampa Bay the following week.
The Cowboys (2-4) are home for back-to-back home games against Seattle and Philadelphia.