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Parcells yanks Bledsoe for Romo; Cowboys lose to Giants

Oct 24, 2006 - 4:07 AM IRVING, Texas (Ticker) -- Coach Bill Parcells hooked Drew Bledsoe from the Monday night stage. But the New York Giants did not allow Tony Romo to shine in the spotlight.

The Giants recorded six sacks, four interceptions, including one for a touchdown, and a safety as they flustered Bledsoe and Romo in a 36-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

The win was the third in a row for the Giants (4-2) and moved them into sole possession of first place in the NFC East, one-half game ahead of Philadelphia (4-3) and a game ahead of the Cowboys (3-3).

Tiki Barber, who has announced he plans to retire after the season, rushed for 114 yards and Eli Manning threw for a pair of touchdowns for the Giants.

But it was the defense that put on a prime time performance. Perennial Pro Bowl end Michael Strahan recorded two of the sacks, linebacker LaVar Arrington tackled Bledsoe in the end zone for a safety and rookie Kevin Dockery sealed the win when he returned an interception of a pass by Romo 96 yards for a touchdown with 2:33 left in the fourth quarter.

"We came out with a lot of energy and made a lot of plays," said Strahan, who tied Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor's club record with 132 1/2 career sacks.

The Giants held a 12-7 halftime lead when Parcells decided to make the switch from Bledsoe to Romo. Bledsoe completed 7-of-12 passes for 111 yards in the first half and scored on a one-yard run with 3:51 left in the second quarter.

But Bledsoe was also sacked four times and threw an interception on a 2nd-and-goal play from the New York 4 with 1:38 left in the second quarter. Although Terry Glenn was well covered by right cornerback Sam Madison, Bledsoe still lofted the pass for his receiver and Madison made the interception at the 1 and returned it four yards.

"The throw should have gone to the other side," Parcells said of Bledsoe's interception. "At that point, I decided to make a change. He's a competitor. He didn't want to come out, but we made the change."

The sellout crowd at Texas Stadium agreed, chanting "Romo, Romo, Romo," as the backup quarterback took the field at the start of the second half.

The cheers died down quickly as Romo's first pass was swatted by Strahan and intercepted by linebacker Antonio Pierce, who returned it six yards to the Dallas 14.

Three plays later, Manning hit tight end Jeremy Shockey with a 13-yard touchdown just 59 seconds into the quarter.

Brandon Jacobs scored on a three-yard run with 1:26 left in the third quarter to increase the lead to 26-7.

"We made enough plays and won the turnover battle," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "Our offense could have played better, but our defense made a lot of big plays. They put pressure on the quarterbacks and forced some turnovers."

Despite getting intercepted three times, Romo did show some positive signs, completing 14-of-25 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns.

"I don't feel good about my performance right now," Romo said. "My job is to help the team win and I didn't do that. I would have liked to have played better."

Romo's worst pass went right to Dockery, who made his first interception a memorable one when he returned it down the left sideline for a touchdown.

This was Terrell Owens' first Monday night game as a member of the Cowboys. But even the wide receiver that commands more media attention than any other player took a back seat to the quarterback controversy that now exists in Dallas and New York's defensive performance.

Owens finished with six catches for 98 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown from Romo early in the fourth quarter.

"I thought the move to Romo was a change of pace for us," Owens said. "He has more mobility and when he scrambles, we as receivers have to find the holes in the defense. But whether it's Drew or Romo, we've got to play hard for them."

Romo also hit Patrick Crayton with a 53-yard touchdown pass with 2:03 remaining in the game.

But the four interceptions were too much for the Cowboys to overcome. Even Owens dropped a short pass from Romo on a 4th-and-2 play with 9:05 left in the third quarter.

"A really poor performance by us," said Parcells, who has not won a playoff game with the Cowboys and last won a Super Bowl with the Giants in 1990. "I'm embarrassed to put a team out on the field that performed like that. Too many turnovers is always a recipe for disaster."

The Cowboys were also unable to run the ball on the Giants as Julius Jones and Marion Barber combined for 59 yards on 19 carries.

Dallas ranked first in the NFL against the run, yielding just 67 yards a game on the ground. But that didn't stop Barber from gaining 114 yards on 27 carries.

"We knew if we didn't make mistakes that we would be able to move the ball on the ground," said Barber, who did fumble the ball away in the second quarter and caught four passes for 32 yards.

New York struck quickly as Manning hit Plaxico Burress with a 50-yard touchdown pass just 2:59 into the game. Burress made a leaping catch over rookie safety Pat Watkins in the end zone. Safety Roy Williams tried to help Watkins on the play, but was unable to after falling over the back judge.

Shortly thereafter, a 54-yard punt by Jeff Feagles was downed by David Tyree on the Dallas 1. That set up a safety by Arrington, who came in on a blitz and sacked Bledsoe in the end zone with 3:59 left in the first quarter.

Unfortunately for Arrington, he tore his left Achilles tendon while fighting off a block in the second quarter and will miss the rest of the season.

Burress caught a 44-yard pass to set up a 31-yard field goal by Jay Feely with 11:51 left in the second quarter.

Bledsoe was sacked four times before directing a 10-play, 80-yard drive. Owens highlighted it with two catches for 48 yards before Bledsoe scored on a one-yard keeper around right end for his second rushing touchdown of the season.

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