Parcells gets kick out of Dallas win

The Baltimore Sun

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Bill Parcells has never been crazy about kickers.

Martin Gramatica may have changed the Dallas coach's opinion.

Gramatica, signed last Monday after Parcells cut the enigmatic Mike Vanderjagt, kicked a 46-yard field goal with one second left yesterday to give the Dallas Cowboys a 23-20 win over the New York Giants and a two-game lead in the NFC East.

"I've got to thank the Cowboys for giving me a second chance," said Gramatica, once a top kicker who had just one field goal in three games since 2004.

"It's been a rough couple of years for me," the journeyman said, "being out all last year and then not making any teams this year."

The winning score was set up by a 42-yard pass by Tony Romo to Jason Witten and came just over a minute after the Giants, wearing their red jerseys for the first and only time this season, had tied the score at 20 on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress.

Gramatica, who also kicked field goals of 41 and 35 yards, was signed last week after the Cowboys cut Vanderjagt, who had received a three-year $5.3 million contract in the offseason.

But being the new guy didn't keep Gramatica from bursting into one of his over-the-top celebrations: The diminutive kicker leaped into the arms of teammates, while coach Bill Parcells broke into a wide smile on the sideline as the ball sailed through.

"Gramatica made me look good," Parcells said with a smile. "For a first game back in the league, you can't get more pressure than that for the division lead."

It didn't look so good for Parcells on Gramatica's first kick, a 44-yard attempt that went wide right on the Cowboys' opening drive. But the last kick, which went down the middle with power to spare, more than made up for it.

"For a guy who hadn't been kicking with regularity," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, "it was a difficult thing to do."

It was the fourth straight loss for the Giants (6-6) and the fourth win in five games for Dallas (8-4) since Romo replaced Drew Bledsoe at quarterback at halftime of a 36-22 loss to New York on Oct. 23. He finished 20-for-34 for 257 yards with two interceptions.

"Anytime you come up to this place you know it's not going to go smoothly," Romo said. "We made mistakes today. I know I did. You just have to have a chance to do something at the end of the game to win."

Both teams did - there were three scores in the final 3:33 - but the Cowboys had the last chance.

First, Marion Barber III scored the second of his two touchdowns on a 7-yard run at the end of a 66-yard drive. Then Manning drove the Giants 63 yards for the tying score on the pass to Burress.

Dallas 7 3 3 10-23

N.Y. Giants 7 0 3 10-20

First quarter NYG-Shockey 17 pass from Manning (Feely kick), 4:39. Dal-M.Barber 1 run (Gramatica kick), 1:28.

Second quarter Dal-FG Gramatica 41, :01.

Third quarter NYG-FG Feely 23, 4:32. Dal-FG Gramatica 35, :05.

Fourth quarter NYG-FG Feely 22, 9:44. Dal-M.Barber 7 run (Gramatica kick), 3:33. NYG-Burress 5 pass from Manning (Feely kick), 1:06. Dal-FG Gramatica 46, :01. A-78,666.


First downs 21 22

Total Net Yards 365 396

Rushes-yards 24-110 29-126

Passing 255 270

Punt Returns 1-0 0-0

Kickoff Returns 5-132 6-109

Interceptions Ret. 0-0 2-13

Comp-Att-Int 20-34-2 24-36-0

Sacked-Yards Lost 1-2 0-0

Punts 2-46.0 3-32.3

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-1

Penalties-Yards 7-58 9-94

Time of Possession 26:39 33:21 Rushing-Dallas, M.Barber 12-76, J.Jones 11-24, Romo 1-10. N.Y. Giants, T.Barber 23-90, Jacobs 5-29, Manning 1-7. Passing-Dallas, Romo 20-34-2-257. N.Y. Giants, Manning 24-36-0-270. Receiving-Dallas, Owens 8-84, T.Glenn 4-52, Witten 3-73, Crayton 3-31, J.Jones 1-11, Hoyte 1-6. N.Y. Giants, Shockey 6-65, Burress 6-43, T.Barber 5-53, Jacobs 2-52, Carter 2-21, Tyree 1-19, Moss 1-10, Shiancoe 1-7. Missed field goal-Dallas, Gramatica 44 (WR).

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