ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSNewYork/AP) — Eli Manning and the New York Giants go into their bye week feeling as though they played a better game.

They still have consecutive losses to the two teams ahead of them in the NFC East after a 31-21 defeat at the division-leading Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

“Today, there were some good things. I think we’re playing smarter. We’re not making as many big mistakes,” said Manning, who threw for 248 yards and three touchdowns. “We’re not making a whole lot of mistakes early and getting out of the game early. We’re hanging in there. We just have to find a way to be more productive and play more efficient football.”

The Giants (3-4) were definitely improved a week after a 27-0 loss at Philadelphia. They were tied 14-all at halftime against a Dallas team that has won six in a row for the first time since 2007.

But after New York held the ball for more than 10 minutes combined on its two possessions in the third quarter, getting past midfield both times, the drives ended with punts. In between, the Cowboys (6-1) went ahead to stay on Tony Romo’s 18-yard TD pass to Terrance Williams.

“With our drive at the start of the third quarter, if we could have scored a touchdown right there, it might have put us in a better stead,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “We’ve got to come together to find a way to get some of these things going that are most frustrating to us now.”

The first of tight end Larry Donnell’s two fumbles, at the end of an 8-yard catch early in the fourth quarter, set up the Cowboys at the New York 27. DeMarco Murray plowed in from a yard out four plays later.

New York now has two-game skids on either side of a three-game winning streak.

“It’s disappointing to lose games. Dallas is playing well. Philadelphia is playing well. We helped them out a little bit,” Manning said. “We had some opportunities there in the second half, especially the third quarter, to get a lead and get some momentum and we didn’t take advantage of that.”

Murray ran for 128 yards on 28 carries, moving ahead of Jim Brown in the NFL record book with his seventh consecutive 100-yard rushing game to start a season. Brown hit the century mark in the first six games of the 1958 season for Cleveland.

Dallas tight end Gavin Escobar had his first two-touchdown game, and Dez Bryant finished with a season-high 151 yards receiving on nine catches. Romo was 17 of 23 for 279 yards with an interception and three touchdown passes. He nearly had a fourth, but it was nullified by instant replay before Murray plowed in.

“We came out and tried to get a win at all costs,” Giants safety Antrel Rolle said. “I feel like we came out and, overall, I thought we played with a lot of passion. Unfortunately, we just got the short end of the stick today. Nobody loses it for you, so we can’t make excuses. We need to get better as a team and that’s it.”

The Cowboys finished 13-3 after their 6-1 start seven years ago, and were the top seed in the NFC before losing to New York in their first playoff game.

After their upcoming bye week, the Giants play three of their next four games at home. That stretch starts with a Monday night game Nov. 3 against Indianapolis and ends with a Nov. 23 rematch against the Cowboys.

“We’ve lost a couple of important games in a row,” Coughlin said. “We have a lot of games to play and we’re going to have to do something about it. We have nine games, we certainly have to get some ‘W’s, and we have to get going in that area. Our consistency’s got to be there.”

New York is already 1-2 against its NFC East foes.

“It definitely puts you in a bind, but not by any means would I count us out,” said Odell Beckham Jr., who caught a 5-yard TD pass on a fourth-and-goal with 5 1/2 minutes left in the game.

“When we come back (after the bye), we want to be a great team. We have a good football team. You see it, and I see it,” defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. “When we get those kinks out of there … it is scary when we get everything right, what will happen.”

NOTES: Donnell had team highs of seven catches for 90 yards. His second fumble came in the final minute after Dallas had kicked a field goal to go up by 10. … Defensive starters Cullen Jenkins and Jon Beason both got hurt in the first half and didn’t return. Jenkins sustained a calf strain and the defensive tackle said he hopes it’s not a long-term injury. Beason has a toe injury, though X-rays were negative. … Manning was 21-of-33 passing.

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