Giants Establish Themselves as Beasts of East

AP Photo-Julie Jacobson

We know, we know. The Cowboys are all banged up. Yes, there was no Tony Romo, even though he's been known to make his fair share of mistakes. We also know that such notable names like Terence Newman, Kyle Kosier and Felix Jones were all on last Sunday's inactive list.

Regardless, this was an ass-kicking of epic proportions that all but eliminates the Cowboys from the NFC East race – with half the season still to play.

It was supposed to be the Cowboys leaving the game with a 7-1 record, while the Giants struggled to shake their Super Bowl hangover. The Giants made their fair share of mistakes in this one, especially Eli Manning. But even with all the Giants' generosity, the Cowboys didn't even belong on the same field as Big Blue. This was a mismatch right from the get-go. And if the Giants didn't hand Dallas seven points and cough up the ball on two other occasions, it might not even have been as close as the three-TD final margin of victory that it turned out to be.

Those two Cowboys regular season victories over New York last season? They're long gone, Cowboys fans. Enjoy the bye week Dallas because for the rest of the 2008 campaign ya'll are going to be fighting just to grab a wild card spot while the Giants, the latest installment of America's Team, will be positioning themselves for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

"It's huge," said Steve Smith, who caught his first career touchdown pass. "It put us three games ahead of them (in the loss column), and since our conference is so tough we just have to take advantage of every game."

While Antonio Pierce didn't want to place too much emphasis on beating Dallas, Plaxico Burress said that it absolutely meant more to beat the Boys from Big D.

"It's important for us to win a game," Pierce said. "We're 2-0 in our division. We're thinking about being undefeated in our division. That's being 6-0 and that's the most important record to us. It's another step towards it, being 2-0. So that's where we're at right now." Burress said he didn't feel any less satisfied because the Cowboys are so beat up.

"They had a star on their helmet," he said. "It's always good to beat them. It's good to beat them at home. They beat us here two years in a row." That seems like eons ago. Ever since the Giants went into Texas Stadium last January and knocked the Cowboys out of the playoffs, these two teams have been traveling in opposite directions – and fast.

The Giants are the top team in the entire NFC. The Cowboys? Well, they slipped into last place in the NFC East after this one. Of course they'll eventually get their quarterback back on the field and will start to play a little better. But Dallas wasn't winning this game even if Roger Staubach were under center. "It was definitely a good thing to go out and take advantage of our opportunities," resident battering ram Brandon Jacobs said. "I don't really buy into the injury thing because the guys that step up and play get paid too and I don't think they did too bad of a job." They really didn't. To put it simply, they were just overmatched.

Pity the foolish experts before the season that basically handed Dallas the NFC's berth in Super Bowl XLIII, overlooking Big Blue as if they hadn't accomplished anything last winter.

"Like I said in training camp, it doesn't matter who you have on paper," Burress said. "You still have to go out and play." The problem for the Cowboys wasn't that they had to play. It was that they had to play the Giants, a team as focused now as they've ever been. Look out Tampa, site of this year's big dance; Big Blue appears headed for another Super trip.

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