And then it evaporated, just like that, leaving a frustrated team with another frustrating loss and elevating the Giants to a 2 1/2-game lead in the NFC East.
Call it the one that didn't get away.
"Incomplete pass," Giants cornerback Corey Webster said. "Long foul ball. It's over. The Giants win. Going home."
Given a reprieve after Dez Bryant was ruled out of bounds -- barely -- on what looked like the winning 37-yard touchdown catch, the Giants managed to hold off Dallas, 29-24, Sunday. But they came less than the length of Bryant's hand from a galling loss.
The Giants had watched Dallas roar back from a 23-point deficit to take an improbable lead into the fourth quarter. But after a pair of field goals, the Giants finally seemed to have things under control. The Cowboys had the ball but still were 37 yards from the end zone with 16 seconds and no timeouts left.
With hope all but gone, the Cowboys made the amazing happen when Bryant, Dallas' frustratingly mercurial young receiver, found himself running alone against Webster down the right sideline. As Tony Romo's desperate pass -- and Giants safety Michael Coe -- arrived, Bryant elevated between the defenders, pulled down the ball and tumbled backward into the back of the end zone.
It looked like the winning TD. But only for a moment.
"When the replay came," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, "I knew we had a problem."
He was right. The replay review showed that as Bryant came down with the ball in his left hand, he reached behind him with his right to break his fall, and his hand touched the end line. Out of bounds. Incomplete. No touchdown.
"When they took it away, my heart just dropped," Bryant said.
The Cowboys said the play went exactly as designed. The Giants, guarding against the big play, were in three-deep coverage. Bryant got behind Webster with a quick move and had a step as he got to the end zone. The throw was on the money, getting to Bryant just out of Coe's reach.
"We had a pretty good sense of what they were going to play and the matchup we could get," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "At the end, they're playing coverage, and you want to try to get a player on a player and give him a chance to make a play. We were able to do that, and it was an inches-type thing where he was out of bounds."