The pressure is going to intensify for Dallas Cowboys coach Dave Campo to make a change at quarterback.
Playing one of the worst games of his stellar career, Troy Aikman tied a franchise record with five interceptions, allowing the New York Giants to rally for a 19-14 victory that left them tied for first in the NFC East heading into their bye week.
"It was just one of those days," said Aikman, who completed 22-of-42 passes for 211 yards and one touchdown. "The Giants' defense played well and I felt I rushed some of my throws, especially at the end of the first half. But all I have to do is is get back up, have a week of practice and go back to work again."
Led by its "Thunder and Lightning" backfield of rookie Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber, New York (5-2) exploited the NFL's worst run defense by rushing for 203 yards.
Dayne gained 108 yards on 21 carries -- his first career 100-yard game -- and Barber added 73 yards on nine carries.
Cornerback Reggie Stephens' interception set up Dayne's go-ahead three-yard touchdown run with 10 minutes remaining as New York posted its first come-from-behind win of the season and remained tied atop the NFC East with the Washington Redskins.
"I didn't realize I had 100 yards until someone told me when I was coming off the field," Dayne said. "I tell you, it feels good. I'm just really confident out there right now and having a lot of fun."
"People need to realize that I'm faster than what I appear," he added. "I did run a 4.5 for these guys. I'm loking forward to getting better and better."
The Giants played virtually the entire game without safety Jason Sehorn, who suffered an injured collarbone while intercepting Aikman on the first play from scrimmage and did not return. X-rays on Sehorn were negative, but he did break a rib and will be sidelined indefinitely.
"Fortunately, I have the bye week to rest up," said Sehorn, who has had a history of injury problems with the Giants. "Injuries are part of the game. I've faced adversity before so this is nothing new for me. The injury happened when I landed on my shoulder after intercepting the pass. I'm confident in my teammates that they will step up in my place until I return."
The last Dallas quarterback to throw five interceptions in a game was Steve Pelleur in 1986. Aikman's previous career high was four against the Green Bay Packers on December 12, 1989, his rookie season.
"Troy's our guy," Campo insisted. "We felt we had the best chance to win with him and he had just had a rough day today. Some of the things were beyond his control. I think we haven't lost any confidence in him."
"I went down to New Orleans and ended up with two yards total, so it happens," Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith added. "Some of those interceptions you saw today might not have even been his fault. I feel for him because we're up here in New York, the big spotlight, the big scene. That is the unfortunate part of it."
Still, the Giants did not take full advantage of the Cowboys' miscues, cashing Aikman's four first-half interceptions into only seven points.
Kerry Collins completed 14-of-25 passes for just 119 yards as the Giants continue to rely heavily on their defense getting them favorable field position. New York's two TD drives were just 21 and 31 yards.
In last week's 13-6 victory at Atlanta, the Giants also scored their only touchdown off a turnover.
"The botom line in this business is to win," Collins said. "It wasn't pretty, but that's what we did this week and that's what we did last week."
The Giants got their only points of the half on Collins' one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Pete Mitchell midway through the second quarter and it almost came back to haunt them as Aikman drove the Cowboys (2-4) deep into Giants' territory in the final two minutes.
With no timeouts remaining, it appeared time was going to run out after Aikman hit tight end Jackie Harris over the middle. But a roughing-the-passer penalty on defensive end Keith Hamilton gave Dallas a first down at the 15 with 11 seconds remaining.
More importantly, it stopped the clock, allowing the Cowboys to set up. But the Giants' stiffened as defensive end Cedric Jones sacked Aikman on the next play for a loss of eight yards. After spiking the ball on second down, Aikman's third-down pass was broken up in the end zone.
"I thought we played smarter and better than we had the last three weeks and I am encouraged by that," Collins said. "Even though there were some tense moments at the end, we all felt we would find a way to win this game and the defense came up big for us."
Fortunate to be behind only 7-0 at the half, the Cowboys rallied in the third quarter behind their special teams and defense.
Jason Tucker's 90-yard kickoff return led to Aikman's one-yard TD pass to running back Robert Thomas before Smith's three-yard burst off right tackle gave the Cowboys a 14-13 lead with 1:19 left in the third quarter.
The Giants could have put away the contest in the third quarter, but settled for field goals after twice having 1st-and-goal.
"I didn't like the (kickoff) return against us, but our defense really stepped up and that was the difference," Giants coach Jim Fassel said. "We ran the ball good, but I'm still not satisfied with some of the things offensively. We have to get the ball into the end zone."
However, the key play came when Stephens picked off Aikman at the Cowboys 31 with 13:19 remaining in the contest. Collins coverted two first downs with short passes to Joe Jurevicius, giving the Giants a 1st-and-goal at the 6.
Dayne picked up three yards on first down before going off right tackle on the next play to give the Giants the lead.
With both offenses struggling early, cornerback Dave Thomas gave the Giants excellent field position by intercepting Aikman at the Dallas 21 midway through the second quarter.
Collins appeared to throw a TD pass to Ike Hilliard on third down, but the officials ruled he was forced out of bounds at the one-foot line.
Fassel lost his seventh straight challenge of the season, but it become moot as the Giants scored on fourth down. Collins rolled to his right and a hit wide-open Mitchell in the back of the end zone.