EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Jason Garrett’s first game as the Dallas Cowboys coach was lights out.
Jon Kitna passed for 327 yards and three touchdowns and the Dallas Cowboys looked revitalized with Garrett running the team in a 33-20 victory that served as a reality check for the New York Giants on Sunday.
Kitna had TD passes of 13 yards to rookie Dez Bryant, 71 to halfback Felix Jones and 24 to Miles Austin as Dallas (2-7) snapped a five-game losing streak in its first game since Garrett replaced Wade Phillips.
Rookie cornerback Bryan McCann scored on a team-record 101-yard interception return in a game highlighted by big plays and two third-quarter power failures that delayed the game for 11 minutes.
Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes for the Giants (6-3), who had a five-game winning steak snapped.
Dallas gained 427 yards against the NFL’s top-ranked defense and forced three turnovers in avoiding its first six-game losing streak since a run at the end of 2000 and the start of 2001.
It had to make owner Jerry Jones think that he waited too long before firing Phillips on Monday or that Garrett was saving all his good plays for when he took over.
The bottom line was Dallas finally looked a little like a talented team instead of one which always found ways to lose.
Coming off a near perfect 41-7 thrashing of Seattle, the Giants made way too many mistakes and the pundits who have been calling them the best team in the NFC need to guess again.
Kitna, who took over as the starter after Tony Romo broke his collarbone against the Giants on Oct. 25, finished 13 of 22 with a meaningless interception.
Besides the plays, there were power outages.
There were two in the third quarter lasting a total of 11 minutes, with the second one turning the $1.6 billion New Meadowlands Stadium into total darkness for about 10 to 15 seconds.
When the lights were on — sometimes not totally — there were plenty of highlights.
The first outage lasted three minutes and came after Kitna misfired on the opening play of the second half. Two plays later with the lights dimmed in the Cowboys end of the field, the veteran quarterback found Jones on a screen on the left side and the halfback scampered 71 yards untouched for a 26-6 lead.
Manning answered with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham to cap an eight-play, 58-yard march that was delayed eight minutes by the second outage, one that took out every light in the stadium.
Fans clicked pictures in the darkness and when the lights came back on there was a fight in one end of the stands involving several people.
Kitna, who had not won a game since 2007, needed only six plays to move the Cowboys 85 yards on their next possession. He capped the drive with the TD pass to Austin, which came a play after finding Roy Williams for 27 yards on a third-and-22.
A 35-yard touchdown pass from Manning to tight end Kevin Boss got the Giants within 33-20 in the third quarter.
New York appeared to cut the margin to less than a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter when Manning and Hakeem Nicks connected on a 48-yard scoring pass down the right sideline, but the play was called back by a questionable holding penalty against guard Kevin Boothe, who was playing his first game of the season.
The Cowboys made big play after big play in this game with none changing the momentum more than McCann’s interception in the second quarter.
With New York down 9-3 and at the Dallas 2 and facing a third-and-goal, Manning threw to a spot on a quick slant to Nicks, only to find McCann waiting. The rookie took off for the other end of the field and no one got close to him as he gave Dallas a 16-3 lead.
Kitna, who faced little or no pressure, made the other big plays, hitting Byrant for 45 yards, Austin for 44 and tight end Martellus Bennett for 32 yards.
The long pass to Bryant set up a 13-yard TD toss to the rookie. The play was originally called incomplete but Garrett challenged the call and it was overturned after a replay.
The passes to Austin and Bennett set up short field goals by David Buehler, whose extra point on Bryant’s touchdown was blocked.
Lawrence Tynes opened and closed the first-half scoring with field goals of 43 and 25 yards for the Giants.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)