X's and O's: Giants vs Cowboys

Here is a report on how players did, position by position, in the game against the Cowboys.

QUARTERBACKS

With three Cowboys converging on him on a third-and-six play from Dallas' 20, the first of the fourth quarter, QB Eli Manning remained poised in the pocket and threw a perfect pass to WR Steve Smith, an 11-yard completion just over the outstretched arms of leaping MILB Bradie James. Rather than settling for a FG attempt that might've tied the game (17-17), the Giants went ahead for good two plays later on RB Brandon Jacobs' 1-yard run (21-17). Manning completed four-of-six passes for 56 yards, including a four-yard touchdown to WR Amani Toomer that tied the game (14-14) just before halftime. Bottom Line: Manning misfired on only six passes and didn't commit a turnover.

RUNNING BACKS

RB Ahmad Bradshaw's eight-yard run around right end moved the Giants to Dallas' 1, and RB Brandon Jacobs scored the eventual game-winning touchdown, an easy one-yard run, on the next play, the third of the fourth quarter. FB Madison Hedgecock took out two Cowboys at the line of scrimmage, which helped create the huge hole Jacobs used to score through the right side. Bottom Line: Bradshaw complemented Jacobs nicely again.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

Leaping, exposed WR Steve Smith took a shot straight to his back from nickel back Jacques Reeves, but he showed concentration and strength in making a 22-yard reception that helped move the Giants into position to tie the game (14-14) just before halftime. WR Amani Toomer showed some shake in sidestepping OLB Greg Ellis and strength in breaking the tackle of RCB Anthony Henry, before racing down the sideline for a 52-yard touchdown reception that put the Giants in front 7-0 just 3:10 into the game. Bottom Line: Dallas shut down Burress again, but Toomer and Smith compensated.

OFFENSIVE LINE

RT Kareem McKenzie was extremely slow sliding his feet, and OLB DeMarcus Ware blew by him for a nine-yard sack that backed the Giants into a second-and-19 situation from Dallas' 49, with about five minutes left in the third quarter. The Giants punted three plays later, despite starting the drive at midfield. LG Rich Seubert allowed RDE Chris Canty to shed his block attempt, penetrate the Giants' backfield and drop Manning for a 10-yard sack on a third-and-seven play from the Giants' 45 early in the second quarter. Bottom Line: Manning mostly had time to throw.

DEFENSIVE LINE

DE-DT Justin Tuck's pressure forced QB Tony Romo to underthrow WR Terrell Owens, who was open near the end zone on a fourth-and-20 play from Dallas' 49 and 3:54 to play in the game. Two plays earlier, RDE Osi Umenyiora hit Romo as he threw to cause an incompletion that forced Dallas into a third-and-20 situation from their 49. Bottom Line: It was better that the pressure came late than never.

LINEBACKERS

Blitzing MLB Antonio Pierce led four charging Giants toward Romo, who was finally sacked for the first time with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys punted two plays after being backed into that third-and-13 predicament at their own 39. WLB Kawika Mitchell was afforded a clean shot to make contact behind the line of scrimmage, but he couldn't control stubborn RB Marion Barber's forward progress and Barber scored a 1-yard touchdown that helped put the Cowboys ahead 14-7 with 53 seconds remaining in the first half. Bottom Line: They were active and productive.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

CB R.W. McQuarters blanketed WR Terry Glenn on the Cowboys' final offensive play of the game, and sealed the victory with an easy interception in the end zone. Earlier, Glenn fell down, but RCB Corey Webster let a certain interception bounce off his chest near the Giants' 25, with 4:12 left in the first half. Botching the pick enabled the Cowboys to go ahead 14-7 seven plays later, on Barber's 1-yard touchdown run. Bottom Line: Owens didn't catch a pass in the second half.

SPECIAL TEAMS

PR R.W. McQuarters broke two tackles and gained 25 yards overall on a return that gave the Giants the ball at Dallas' 37 late in the third quarter. The Giants went ahead for good (21-17) on the ensuing drive. Bottom Line: McQuarters came through in this area, too.

COACHING

The play-calling on the Giants' two series before McQuarters' win-clinching interception was too conservative and gave the Cowboys two opportunities to steal a win. Owens' footwork on his first-quarter touchdown reception was debatable enough to warrant Coughlin's challenge, especially since it only cost the Giants a first-half timeout. Bottom Line: They're 9-1 on the road and playing for a spot in Super Bowl XLII.

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