The New England Patriots
and New York Jets
are each coming off last-second wins in their season openers, but the level of satisfaction on both sides was markedly different. The Jets eked out a one-point victory over Tampa Bay in quarterback Geno Smith's NFL debut and will look to carry that momentum into
their showdown with the host Patriots on Thursday night. New England blew a 10-point lead and needed a late comeback from Tom Brady
to overcome upset-minded Buffalo.
The Patriots have won the last four meetings, including a 49-19
thumping of the Jets on Thanksgiving night last year - a game remembered for the infamous "butt fumble" by New York quarterback Mark Sanchez. Smith will get his second start while Sanchez seeks a second opinion on his injured right shoulder
from renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews. Brady and New England's overhauled receiving corps struggled in the opener and the team could be further depleted by injury for Thursday's matchup.
The USA, which moved back into first place ahead of Costa Rica, officially
qualified for the World Cup for the seventh straight time after Panama lost to
Honduras an hour after the final whistle of its win.
"This is a huge, huge evening for all of us," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann
said. "It's a huge milestone whenever you make it to a World Cup."
Costa Rica, which beat the U.S. 3-1 on Friday and played to a shocking draw
with Jamaica earlier Tuesday, is in second place. Honduras is currently in third
followed by Panama in fourth Mexico in fifth.
The top three CONCACAF teams qualify for next year's 32-nation competition in
Brazil, and the fourth-place finisher will play in a one-game playoff with
Oceania winner New Zealand.
"This a team that could and should play better," said Mexico head coach Luis
Fernando Tena, who took over for Jose Manuel de la Torre on Saturday. "It has to
take a step forward if we want to make it to the World Cup."
The U.S. was without arguably the region's top player, Michael Bradley, who
sat out for the second straight game with an ankle injury. Three additional
Americans also missed the match because of yellow card accumulation: forward
Jozy Altidore, midfielder Geoff Cameron and defender Matt Besler.
Ahead of the game, Klinsmann called in four additional players, including
Clarence Goodson, who started in place of Besler in central defense along with
Omar Gonzalez. Fabian Johnson shifted from midfield to the back line opposite of
left back DaMarcus Beasley. Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey, Donovan, Alejandro
Bedoya and lone striker Johnson filled out the 4-2-3-1 formation.
Mexico opened the match with a different feel from Friday, when the team had
a late second-half collapse at home against Honduras for its second loss in the
Hexagonal that ultimately led to the firing of De la Torre. Hours later, he was
replaced by Tena, who put star striker Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez back in the
starting XI despite the striker coming off a hamstring injury.
After shifting much of their lineup from the Costa Rica loss, the Americans
looked a bit unsettled after kickoff. Mexico was on the attack early, forcing
goalkeeper Tim Howard to make a diving save on an attempt from Christian Giménez
in the 18th minute for the first scoring opportunity from either side in the
But after the nervy moment, Klinsmann's men calmed down and had some chances
of their own, with both Dempsey and Donovan getting into the box for shots that
were blocked by Mexican defenders. Johnson nearly had the opener off a corner
kick in the 32nd minute, but Mexico keeper Jesus Corona saved the attempt on the
The teams entered the half scoreless. But that wouldn't last long.
Playing with a sense of urgency in front of a raucous crowd, the U.S. came
out of the locker room much like Mexico did to open the game. However, the Stars
and Stripes were able to capitalize off of their surge when Johnson used his
head to slip one into El Tri's goal.
Johnson, who has reinvented himself on the U.S. national team after rejoining
MLS last year, sneaked into the middle off a corner kick delivered by Donovan,
beat Corona to the ball and headed it in to help the Americans move one step
closer to stamping their passports for Brazil.
Later in the half, Johnson was forced to leave the game with a head injury
after taking a nasty fall on the pitch while going up for a header midway
through the second half. He was replaced by Mix Diskerud, but it turned out the
loss of the team's best offensive player on the night wouldn't cause any
For insurance, with just over 12 minutes remaining in the match, Diskerud
kept a short throw-in alive in the box and put his head up to find Donovan at
the far post to poke home the second goal of the match.
With just seconds left to play, Dempsey nearly made it an even worse night
for the visitors but he was unable to convert on a penalty kick that flew to the
right of the goal. But the mission had already been accomplished.
"We're continuing the growth of the game here in the sport, we're improving,
getting better and we've got to make sure we do well in Brazil to keep it
going," Dempsey said.
The U.S. improved to 24-0-2 in home qualifiers since losing to Honduras in
September 2001 at RFK Stadium in Washington, and is now 38-1-7 in qualifiers at
home since losing to Costa Rica in 1985.
The nation has also defeated Mexico at Columbus Crew Stadium for the fourth
straight World Cup qualifier after topping its biggest rival by a scoreline of
2-0 in 2001, 2005 and 2009. The Americans increased their undefeated run at the
MLS stadium overall by winning for the seventh time to go along with two
While the U.S. fans, led by the American Outlaws supporting group, left the
party atmosphere at the stadium, El Tri left with their heads down looking for
answers. Tena may find himself out after just one game in charge as the team
would need two wins in two games for any hope of reaching the World Cup on an
“This isn’t the best moment to make decisions,” Tena said when asked if he'd
resign. “I have to analyze a lot of things.”
Brandon Carr and the Dallas Cowboys are serious about forcing turnovers.
They needed six to put away Eli Manning and the New York Giants.
Carr returned an interception 49 yards for the clinching touchdown, and the
Cowboys overcame a big night from Manning to beat him for the first time at
their fancy $1.2 billion stadium in a 36-31 victory Sunday night.
Tony Romo shook off hits to the ribs that knocked him out for the final Dallas play of the first
half and threw a pair of touchdown passes to Jason Witten.
Manning threw three touchdown passes to Victor Cruz and four overall, and he had New York
in position for a comeback victory despite the flurry of mistakes.
But with the Giants trailing 30-24, Manning's pass went off the hand of
running back De'Rel Scott into Carr's arms.
The cornerback beat Manning down the sideline with 1:50 left for Dallas'
second defensive touchdown. Barry Church returned a fumble 27 yards for a
touchdown in the third quarter.
''It's infectious. It's contagious,'' Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. ''We
challenged them at halftime. We had three, let's get three more.''
The Cowboys had only 16 turnovers all last year, switched to a four-man front
with new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and swore all preseason that taking
the ball away was the foremost thing on their minds. They proved it from the
first snap of the season.
DeMarcus Ware intercepted Manning's first pass, and the Giants turned it over
on their first three possessions. The Cowboys didn't take advantage of the early
gifts, but built a big enough lead to hold off a New York comeback once the
Giants finally stopped turning it over.
It matched the most turnovers for the Giants since 1987, when they had seven
against New Orleans. And it was the most Dallas has forced since 2003.
''Just tells you our system is so much built on attitude,'' said defensive
line coach Rod Marinelli, who was defensive coordinator for Chicago last year
when the Bears led the NFL with 44 turnovers. ''We had a lot of guys play
tonight who jumped in and helped us. It's just team defense.''
Church scored on the fourth New York turnover - the second fumble from new
starting running back David Wilson, who lost control of the ball on a strip by
Nick Hayden just before hitting the ground. Church scooped up the ball and ran
The Cowboys went up 27-10 in the third quarter after the fifth miscue - a
punt that bounced and hit Trumaine McBride while he was trying to block for the
return. Rookie Devonte Holloman won a scramble for the loose ball, and Romo
threw a 4-yard scoring pass to Witten.
''I just think it's pretty exciting to see what our team defensively has been
able to do here, in training camp, preseason and into the season,'' Romo
When the mistakes stopped, the Giants made it a game again. New York went 80
yards, capped by Cruz's second score on an 18-yard pass, and Cruz scored again
from the 10 to pull the Giants to 30-24 midway through the fourth quarter.
New York got the ball back, but the Cowboys forced a quick punt. After Dallas
again failed to move the ball, Carr came through with the clinching
''You're not going to win the game turning the ball over five times and
muffing a punt,'' Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. ''I'm totally, totally
disappointed, embarrassed about that football. That's sloppy, sloppy
The Giants scored with 11 seconds left on Manning's fourth touchdown, a
4-yarder to Brandon Myers. But Dallas recovered an onside kick.
Manning was 27 of 42 for 450 yards and had three 100-yard receivers in Cruz
(five catches, 118 yards), Hakeem Nicks (five for 114) and Rueben Randle (five
Romo was 36 of 49 for 263 yards, and Miles Austin had 10 catches for 72
yards. Witten, who had only three touchdowns last year, had eight grabs for 70
and became the third tight end in NFL history with 9,000 yards receiving.
DeMarco Murray had 86 yards rushing for Dallas.
Romo threw a 15-yard TD pass to Witten before halftime, and Dan Bailey also
had two field goals (30 and 38 yards) by then for a 13-10 lead.
In the final minute of the first half, Romo was hit in the ribs and had the
wind knocked out after being crushed between Mathias Kiwanuka and Justin Trattou
after throwing an incompletion. Kyle Orton came on to finish the half, but Romo
was back after halftime.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Romo didn't receive any treatment, and that
the medical staff cleared him to play.
''One tough player, one tough man,'' Jones said. ''He will go out and play in
pain and play hurt.''
After Manning's second interception, this one by new Cowboys safety Will
Allen, Dallas had third-and-11 at the Giants 14.
Romo threw a pass toward rookie Terrance Williams that instead deflected off
the Giants' Prince Amukamara into the arms of New York teammate Ryan Mundy, who
raced 91 yards. He was caught from behind by Murray at the 1.
GAME NOTES: The crowd of 85,348 was significantly smaller than the NFL
regular-season record crowd of 105,121 that watched the first Giants game at the
stadium in its 2009 debut. ... Giants CB Prince Amukamara was knocked out of the
game with a concussion after a helmet-on-helmet collision with S Ryan Mundy, who
was cleared to return.
Dallas Cowboys defensive end Anthony Spencer is officially doubtful
for Sunday's game against the New York Giants due to a knee injury.
Spencer struck a circumspect tone with reporters.
"I've got to listen to my body, and right now it's saying, 'I'm not ready,'
but who knows on Sunday?" Spencer said.
The Pro Bowl selection had surgery July 25.
Spencer recorded a career-high 11 sacks last season.
"I want to make sure I'm good for the whole season," Spencer said. "That's kind of the same thing last year with my pec. If I tried to come back too early it would've put me out longer than I would've been out.
"I was out for two weeks, so if I came back I could've tore it completely
and then I would've been out. I don't want to do anything that's going to
jeopardize the season."
By: Aaron Wilson