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Palace coup during a "classic matchup in an ultra-modern setting"

The local TV ratings will go through the roof, too. Photos: Ed Bark

Lose the last one in the old stadium, lose the first one in Jerry's biggest excess story.

But it still looked pretty promising for the Cowboys when NBC splashed the above graphic on-screen during the third quarter of Sunday Night Football.

Dallas still trailed the New York Giants 20-17 but would soon take a 24-20 lead on QB Tony Romo's touchdown run. So the camera caught owner Jerry Jones flashing thumbs-up to all those paying customers before standing and applauding their record-busting effort.

Surely everything would turn out OK in the end. But after a bucking bronco of a game -- and a sterling effort by NBC's announcing team of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth-- New York branded the Cowboys with a 33-31 loss on a last-second field goal.

The Peacock got what it wanted, a "classic matchup in an ultra-modern setting," as Bob Costas put it before NBC put Cowboys Stadium in the company of the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon and other wonders of the world.

Costas also supplied the postscript -- "What does it feel like to silence 100,000-plus?" -- before turning it over to Andrea Kremer's interview with winning Giants QB Eli Manning.

NBC's coverage was first-rate throughout, giving Jones and his team a showcase with all the trimmings. But the Cowboys' owner couldn't buy a win -- or for that matter, a break. The ball twice bounced in mysterious ways -- into the waiting hands of Giants' players. Not that Romo won't be taking most of the hits Monday for throwing three interceptions.

In the end, well-meaning but comical Wade Phillips jumped up and down before watching that dadburned 37-yard field goal beat him at the buzzer. NBC caught his final frustration in closeup (see below) while a fleeting companion shot showed Jones dying at least 105,121 deaths.