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October 30, 2012

Slipping out of their reach

IRVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys now must try to keep their season from slipping out of reach.

They were so close — by the length of Dez Bryant’s fingertips — to being within a half-game of the NFC East lead and having a vital tiebreaker with a season sweep of the division-leading New York Giants. But the receiver’s touchdown catch in the closing seconds was overturned on a replay review.

Dallas (3-4) hits the halfway mark of its schedule Sunday night at Atlanta (7-0), the NFL’s only undefeated team. The Cowboys then go to Philadelphia for the first of two meetings in four weeks against their division foe.

“There is a tremendous amount of urgency,” coach Jason Garrett said Monday. “Every game is critical. This is a big game.”

The Cowboys overcame an early 23-0 deficit and led going into the fourth quarter Sunday in what would have been the biggest comeback victory in team history.

But New York won 29-24 after regaining the lead with two field goals, the go-ahead points coming after Felix Jones fumbled. The Giants held on after replay showed Bryant’s fingers hit out of bounds before he landed on a leaping 37-yard grab with 10 seconds left.

Tight end Jason Witten’s franchise-record 18 catches and Tony Romo’s career-high 437 yards passing on a record 62 attempts (with 36 completions) weren’t enough to help the Cowboys overcome six turnovers, including four interceptions.

New York (6-2) now has a firm grasp on the NFC East lead because no other team in the division has a winning record. Philadelphia (3-4) and Washington (3-5) both lost Sunday.

“It’s to that point in the season where you don’t have time,” Witten said. “Nobody cares about battling. They don’t, they want to see you win. ... The clock’s ticking. You have to be able to find a way to get on top here a little bit.”

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