EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Eli Manning and Martellus Bennett connected on a 9-yard touchdown pass with 2:36 remaining in the fourth quarter to bring the Super Bowl champion New York Giants within 24-17 of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL opener Wednesday night.
The score capped a 12-play, 79-yard drive.
Tony Romo threw his third touchdown pass, connecting with Miles Austin, as the Cowboys stretched their lead to 24-10.
The drive appeared to stall when the Cowboys picked up consecutive 10-yard penalties. Faced with a first-and-30 from the Giants 34, Romo found Austin who outleaped two defenders with 5:57 remaining.
The Cowboys had expanded their lead on a 33-yard field goal by Dan Bailey with 40 seconds left in the quarter.
Ahmad Bradshaw's 10-yard touchdown run brought Giants within 14-10 late in the third quarter.
The key play on the drive was a spectacular leaping grab by Domenik Hixon in traffic, a 39-yard play to the Cowboys 10.
It was a solid answer by New York after Romo hit Kevin Ogletree with a 40-yard touchdown pass, their second of the game, earlier in the quarter.
The Cowboys marched 80 yards on the first drive of the second half with Romo hitting Ogletree deep down the right side.
The Cowboys scored on their final drive of the first half. Romo found Dez Bryant streaking down the right side for a 38-yard gain that moved the ball to the Giants 15. Two plays later, Romo lofted the scoring pass to Ogletree with 1:01 left in the half.
Earlier in the quarter, Michael Boley's 51-yard interception return set up a 22-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes as the Giants opened the scoring. Boley returned the pick of Romo to the Cowboys 2 and a horse-collar penalty gave New York a first-and-goal from the 1. The Giants lost ground on two runs by Bradshaw and a third-down pass to the end zone failed.
Tynes kicked the field goal with 9:10 remaining.
In the first quarter, the Giants kept the Cowboys off the board with a strong defensive stand. Facing a fourth-and-inches from the Giants 37, the Cowboys went for it and came up short when Lawrence Vickers was stopped for no gain.
The Giants best drive ended with a fumble by rookie running back David Wilson. Sean Lee recovered for the Cowboys on their 34.
Cowboys starting center Phil Costa aggravated a back injury that kept him out of most of the preseason. He was replaced by Ryan Cook.
Giants cornerback Michael Coe left the game with hamstring injury.