EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Bill Parcells is one of the NFL's best-known personalities. Billy Cundiff is just another no-name kicker.
But Cundiff turned what could have been one of the Tuna's worst losses into one of his biggest wins.
Cundiff sent the game to overtime with a 52-yarder and added his NFL-record tying seventh field goal from 25 yards with 5:56 left in the extra session to give the Dallas Cowboys a 35-32 victory over the New York Giants on Monday night.
It was Parcells' first win as Dallas' coach and it came against the team he led to two Super Bowl victories.
Cundiff's winning kick capped an eight-play, 51-yard drive led by Quincy Carter.
"I approached the 52-yarder the same way I approached the 21-yarder. I tried to keep it real simple. I breathed. I relaxed," said Cundiff, the fourth kicker to make seven field goals in a game. "To be honest, I felt I just did my job."
The often cynical Parcells felt more than that after a game that lasted nearly four hours and went from high to low for both teams -- the Cowboys blew a 15-point fourth-quarter lead, the Giants seemed to have won it, and then Cundiff sent it into overtime after Matt Bryant's kickoff went out of bounds and gave Dallas a last shot.
"I feel fortunate to win," Parcells said. "I would have been very disappointed to lose. It was one of the greatest games I've ever been involved in."
"It's great when you win," Giants quarterback Kerry Collins said when he heard what Parcells said. "It was a great football game. It was a fun game to play. It's no fun to lose."
He shouldn't have.
Collins rallied the Giants from a 29-14 fourth-quarter deficit and seemed to have the game won when Bryant kicked a 30-yarder with 11 seconds left for a 32-29 lead.
But Bryant's squib kickoff went out of bounds at the 1, giving Dallas the ball at its 40. Carter then hit Antonio Bryant with a 25-yard pass to the New York 34. Cundiff sent it to overtime with the longest field goal of his career.
"You can't pin it on one guy," said Giants coach Jim Fassel said, adding that Matt Bryant apologized to him for the kick.
"It was supposed to be a squib down the middle and eat up 5 or 6 seconds, leave them at the 30 at best and with just one desperation play."
Carter, 24-of-39 for 298 yards, led the winning drive. The key play was a 23-yard pass to former Giant Dan Campbell, who made his first catch for Dallas after signing in the offseason.
For most of the final quarter, it looked as though Parcells' Cowboys (1-1) would go down valiantly.
The Jersey guy coaching the Texas team watched helplessly as Collins rallied the Giants (1-1).
Collins threw second-half TD passes of 5 yards to Ike Hilliard, 1 yard to Jeremy Shockey and 20 to Amani Toomer.
Parcells had been 49-0 during his career with the Giants, Patriots and Jets when his team carried a lead of 12 points or more into the final quarter, but it appeared that the streak would stop short of 50.
His Cowboys dominated the first three quarters against a team starting three rookies in the offensive line -- the first time that has happened since Washington did it in 1981.
Leading 26-14 entering the final quarter, the Cowboys added Cundiff's fifth field goal to lead 29-14, but it fell apart.
First, the Giants went 69 yards in six plays, capped by the 1-yard TD flip to Shockey, the tight end who had disparaged Parcells in a preseason magazine article. Until then, Shockey, who finished with two catches for 8 yards, hadn't caught a pass and dropped one while wide open in the end zone.
Then New York took only three plays to go 63 yards to tie it with 6:20 left. First came a 38-yard completion to Hilliard followed by the 20-yard TD pass to Toomer. Tiki Barber ran in the 2-point conversion to tie it.
The Giants finally got the ball on their own 48 with 2:59 left after a punt by Toby Gowin from his own 15.
They moved methodically reaching the 12 to set up the go-ahead field goal.
The Cowboys led 20-7 at halftime, keeping the New York offense in its own territory until Collins completed a 40-yard pass to Toomer with 2:39 left in the half. That was the only bright spot of the half for the Giants as Toomer broke Frank Gifford's 39-year-old team career receiving record on the play.
New York took a brief lead when Ralph Brown jumped in front of Joey Galloway and returned an interception 29 yards untouched to the end zone midway through the first quarter.
But Zuriel Smith returned the kickoff to his own 47 and the Cowboys drove from there to tie it on an 8-yard scramble by Carter. Cundiff's 37-yard field goal following a fumble by Barber made it 10-7 and he added a 49-yarder to make it 13-7.
Then Collins' wobbly pass was intercepted by Al Singleton, who trotted untouched into the end zone to make it 20-7.
Cundiff added his third field goal four minutes into the second half to make it 23-7.
The Giants cut it to 23-14 on Collins' 5-yard TD pass to Hilliard, which was set up by a 38-yard pass-interference call on Roy Williams. But the TD came only after a wide-open Shockey dropped a pass in the end zone.
Then it was Cundiff again from 21 yards after a 34-yard pass interference call on the Giants' Will Peterson and it was 26-14 with 4:53 left in the third quarter. Another interference call set up Cundiff's fifth field goal, from 36 yards.
The fun was just beginning.
The Associated Press News Service
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