EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Once they stopped beating themselves with penalties, the Dallas Cowboys took command of the NFC East by riding their biggest stars: Tony Romo and Terrell Owens.
Romo hit Owens on two of his four touchdown passes and Dallas opened a big lead in the division by ending the Giants' six-game winning streak with a 31-20 victory yesterday.
"If you want to call it swagger, yes we have the confidence that we know we can go out and beat teams," said Owens, who broke the game open with second-half TD catches of 25 and 50 yards. Owens finished with six catches for 125 yards, his third straight 100-yard game.
The Cowboys (8-1) opened a two-game lead over the Giants (6-3), and also swept the season series with New York, so it has the tiebreaker should they finish tied. The last time the Cowboys started a season at 8-1 was 1995, the last time they won the Super Bowl.
"It's another step along the journey that we're trying to go through to get where we want to go," said Romo, who completed 20 of 28 passes for 247 yards. "A win like tonight just adds to your confidence. When you do something like this, you have a chance to do something special."
Romo also threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Tony Curtis in the first quarter and a 20-yarder to Patrick Crayton just before halftime, starting a string of three straight touchdown drives.
Nick Folk added a 44-yard field goal.
The Giants' Eli Manning threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey, who tied his career high with 12 catches for 129 yards. Reuben Droughns scored on a 1-yard run and Lawrence Tynes kicked field goals of 40 and 26 yards.
Until early in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys were hurting themselves with undisciplined errors. Four penalties in the first half gave New York 10 points and had Dallas heading to the locker room tied at 17.
"Once it's over, you have to learn from your mistakes," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "We couldn't harp on that. We just told them it was nothing-nothing. We've done it all year. The second half is ours."
Dallas, which sacked Manning five times and intercepted him twice, stopped the Giants on the opening possession of the half and then Romo and Co. took over.