Stat worth noting: After struggling mightily in recent weeks, the Giants scored five touchdowns on five trips inside the Cowboys red zone.
Stat worth noting II: The Giants, who entered the game second in the league in time of possession, held the ball for 34:13 to only 25:47 for Dallas.
Turning point: With one pick already in his pocket, Corey Webster struck again late in the second quarter. The Giants were dominating the game, yet were leading only 14-7. That’s when Webster stepped in front of a Brad Johnson pass intended for Jason Witten. Webster’s swipe gave the Giants the ball at the Giants 48-yard line. Six plays later, Amani Toomer was in the end zone with an 11-yard TD pass from Eli Manning and the Giants had an insurmountable 21-7 halftime lead.
Play to remember: Instead of sulking after allowing a 28-yard catch by Roy Williams, Corey Webster rebounded to make a huge play on Dallas’ next snap. Brad Johnson led Terrell Owens too much and Webster made a great catch to pick off the errant pass. Using great speed and athleticism – and a nice block from Aaron Ross – Webster returned the pick 57 yards to the Dallas 27-yard line. That directly set up a Steve Smith TD catch and a 14-0 Giants lead.
Play to forget: Eli Manning had Plaxico Burress running free down the right sideline. However, number 10 inexplicably threw the ball in the right flat, where only two Cowboys were located. CB Mike Jenkins grabbed the easy gift and waltzed 23 yards into the end zone. After playing basically error-free for most of the season, Manning committed two costly turnovers on two consecutive second-quarter series.
What Went Right
New York did a great job of moving the chains. Big Blue was eight-of-13 on third down and also posted 23 first downs to only 11 for Dallas.
Terrell Owens was basically a non-factor, except for his costly fumble deep in New York territory. He finished with five catches for only 36 yards and an eight-yard TD.
The Giants set the tone right off the bat, marching all the way down the field with the opening kickoff and jumping out to a 7-0 lead. It took the Giants 11 plays to move 75 yards, and they capped the march when Eli Manning found Kevin Boss at the right front pylon for a 13-yard TD.
James Butler joined the turnover parade early in the third period. He picked off Brooks Bollinger’s awful pass and set the Giants up in the Dallas red zone early in the third quarter. Two Brandon Jacobs runs later and the Giants had extended out to a 28-7 lead.
The Giants running game was certainly clicking. The Giants gained 200 total rushing yards on 34 carries, a 5.9-yard average.
What Went Wrong
Eli Manning was pretty sloppy with the ball. He lost two fumbles and also threw an interception that Mike Jenkins returned 23 yards for Dallas’ first touchdown. It’s unknown whether Manning or Plaxico Burress was at fault on the play, but there was nothing but a couple of Cowboys in the area where Manning threw the ball. With the exception of his three-INT evening in Cleveland, Manning has been great with turnovers all season long.
The Cowboys got to Manning and sacked him on four occasions for 28 yards in losses.
The Giants suffered a handful of injuries, the most notable and potentially serious a knee injury to James Butler. Kevin Boss left with an ankle injury and Terrell Thomas suffered a stinger after blasting Terrell Owens.
Both return games struggled, as Domenik Hixon averaged a mere 4.3 yards on three punt returns and Ahmad Bradshaw averaged only 18 yards on three kickoff runbacks.
We’re going to have to keep mentioning the penalties every single week until the problem goes away. Against the Cowboys, it was eight infractions for 65 yards in losses.
2.5 – Game lead the 7-1 Giants have over the 5-4 Cowboys
6.9 – Average yards per carry for Brandon Jacobs, who rumbled for 117 yards on 17 carries.
30 – Total number of sacks by New York’s defense through eight games after the Giants dropped Dallas QBs four times.
“We are very, very thankful for the win, excited about that, we are 7-1, and I think we can play better.” – Giants coach Tom Coughlin
“Tough game for us. We knew coming in it was going to be a tough one and we didn’t play well enough overall.” – Dallas coach Wade Phillips