Tony Romo stood there. And stood there. And stood there even longer. Finally, after more than seven unadulterated seconds in the pocket, he found Dez Bryant in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
The record will show that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was in coverage on the play and, therefore, was beaten by Bryant in Sunday night's 31-28 loss to the Cowboys. But the reality is that the Giants' lack of pressure on Romo, who seemed to shuffle around the pocket out of boredom rather than any influence by the defensive linemen, was the real culprit on the deciding drive of the game.
"You have to find a way to get to the quarterback," Giants safety Antrel Rolle said. "That's a long time to cover man to man."
And it was the second time on the drive they had to do that. Two plays earlier, on first-and-10 from the Giants' 36, Romo also stood in the pocket for upwards of seven full ticks before hitting Jason Witten for a 15-yard gain.
"We were trying to pressure with four and obviously that didn't work very well," Tom Coughlin said of the defensive mind-set that led to the winning points. "We were unable to get to the quarterback. We gave them plenty of time to throw and he had a nice mix. It isn't like he forced anything. He threw check-downs and they turned into pretty good-size gains."
Romo praised the offensive line for the protection.
"Anytime you are afforded that amount of time, with a couple of plays left at the end of the game, it's huge," he said.
Jason Pierre-Paul, who is supposed to be the Giants' premier pass-rusher, had two strong plays in the game but was a non-factor down the stretch. He left the losing locker room without addressing the media.
"We have to get home on that," defensive tackle Mike Patterson said of the plays late in the game.
The Giants took a 28-24 lead with 3:00 left, and Rolle said it is a situation that the defense "loves" to be in. They had a chance to shut the door on the Cowboys and end the losing streak. Instead, the Cowboys drove 80 yards in seven plays, taking up just 1:59 before Bryant's touchdown.
"You have to be plastered to your guy, no matter how long it is," Rodgers-Cromartie said of the touchdown. "You have to be accountable and make that play."
Even when it's clear no one else can.