It sucked the air out of the Cowboys. It deflated Cowboys Stadium.
You could feel it, the nearly 92,000 people here collectively groan. Giants linebacker Michael Boley heard the first groan, the first scream, the one from Tony Romo. Boley, full-steam, charging on Romo early in the second quarter, got there untouched as Romo completed a 14-yard comeback curl to Miles Austin.
Boley planted Romo hard, drilling the QB's left shoulder into the ground.
"It was part of our blitz package,'' Boley said. "The guard stayed in his three-technique on the tackle and they just didn't see me coming. I showed coverage and then came. I guess it was a big play."
It was a play that changed the game. It changed the Cowboys' season. Dallas had won only one game with Romo. Now they are supposed to win more with backup Jon Kitna and the backup's backup, Stephen McGee? Stephen Who?
Romo 'Upset, Disappointed, Frustrated' Following Injury
Quick Hits | Recap | Box Score
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that his doctors told him that Romo may or may not elect to have surgery and that, regardless, he would likely miss six to eight weeks of the season. Jones remembers Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman suffering an injury "in the neighborhood'' of Romo's and Aikman missed four weeks. Fortunately, it is Romo's left shoulder, not his throwing one, Jones said.
"We don' t know," Jones said. "Unquestionably, it's a letdown. This injury took the air out of us for this game. It creates another layer of challenge for us for the future."
Would he look to the UFL for help, maybe Jeff Garcia or Daunte Culpepper, Jones was asked?
"No disrespect to those guys, but I want to see what Jon can do," Jones said. "He's been working behind the scenes doing some impressive things."
I think you just heard concession there. I think Giants 41, Cowboys 35 and this game where Romo was lost now makes the Cowboys pedestrian and their season a free-fall. And when Jones says Romo's injury forces him to view this season through a new prism -- "of course it does," he said -- that sounds like smoke that does not cover the myriad of issues the Cowboys faced, with Romo in hand, to get to 1-4.
Make it the 1-5 Cowboys now.
A sense of gloom engulfed this place, no matter how the Cowboys tried to hide it. Dallas was ahead 10-7 when Romo left. But the Giants had built a 38-20 lead by early in the third quarter. Some of the Cowboys' ghoulish defense had nothing to do with Romo being out -- the Giants offense gained 497 total yards, 200 of it rushing. Eli Manning threw four touchdown passes.
As the game bore onward, nearly everyone was bored. Even the Giants. Even the Cowboys. The game became sloppy. The fans bolted early in the fourth quarter.
The body language on the Cowboys' sideline was not good.
It is never a good thing when your franchise quarterback goes splat on the turf.
"It was unreal,'' Cowboys linebacker Bradie James said. "The quarterback went down. We have to keep fighting. It's going to be tough but we have to keep playing."
He was not convincing.
Justin Tuck remembers that preseason game against the Jets earlier this year when Manning was socked and wound up bleeding profusely. He knows how something like this could have happened to the Giants back then.
"When your quarterback has his helmet off and you see blood, you expect the worse," Tuck said. "We got lucky. They didn't."
So, Dallas will try to move forward but we can expect that they will go nowhere. Their defense was whipped in matchups all over the field vs. the Giants. Their offense thinks it can get better with Kitna getting a full week of reps in practice. But Kitna is not Romo and this offense is designed for Romo. This team believes in Romo.
It's all smoke and mirrors for the 1-5 Cowboys over their final 10 games.