Stat worth noting: The Giants played as disciplined as they have in quite some time. They were only penalized twice for 10 yards.
Stat worth noting II: We’ve said it before; the time of possession can be very misleading, as it was in this one with Dallas holding a 38:50-21:10 edge.
Turning point: After falling behind 10-0, New York ripped off three consecutive gains of 16 yards, which set up Hakeem Nicks’ 21-yard TD catch that put Big Blue on the board. The three key 16-yard plays: Manning to Nicks in the left flat, Kevin Boss rumbling off left tackle, and Ahmad Bradshaw sprinting around left tackle.
Play to remember: After cutting into Dallas’ lead it didn’t take the Giants long to grab their own advantage. Mathias Kiwanuka forced Marion Barber to fumble at midfield and Osi Umenyiora returned it 24 yards to the Dallas 28-yard line. Four plays later, Brandon Jacobs barreled in from the 1 for the 14-10 halftime edge that seemed so very unlikely only moments earlier.
Play to forget: On the second play of the second quarter, Tony Romo dropped back and threw a strike to Jason Witten. However, Giants CB Bruce Johnson was right there in perfect coverage. He tipped the ball, but it bounced right into the waiting hands of Witten, who turned it into a 32-yard gain that led to Dallas’ first points of the game.
What went right
Domenik Hixon was able to deliver the knockout blow. With New York up a touchdown and less than six minutes to play, he took Mat McBriar’s punt and didn’t stop until he reached the end zone 79 yards later. It’s been a long time since the Giants special teams made a huge play and this one was about as important as could be.
Perhaps Hixon drew motivation from Brandon Jacobs’ runaway locomotive act in the third quarter. Jacobs took a short pass in the left flat and headed down the sideline. Even he admitted he was surprised that he was able to get all the way to the pylon with a 74-yard TD.
While the stat sheet won’t show it, the Giants played with a level of intensity and emotion that they haven’t had in quite some time. From before kickoff to the halftime scuffle right through to the end of the game, the Giants clearly weren’t going to be denied in this contest.
New York’s defense, which was shredded by the Dallas rushing attack in the first game, held the Cowboys to only 45 yards on 23 carries.
What went wrong
Tony Romo basically toyed with the Giants defense in between the 20s. Romo threw for an astonishing 392 yards and completed 41 passes out of 55 attempts. He also tossed three TDs.
It looked like New York had dodged a major bullet in the second quarter when Corey Webster recovered Tashard Choice’s fumble at the Giants 1-yard line. However, Wade Phillips challenged the call, which was reversed, and the Cowboys got the ball back at New York’s 4, scoring on the next play. Replay apparently showed that Choice was down by contact.
Eli Manning was only able to complete 11 passes and only two receivers (Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks) grabbed more than one pass. Manning was also picked off in the end zone by Mike Jenkins.
The usually sure-handed Steve Smith just flat out dropped a pass in the end zone in the fourth quarter. New York had to settle for a field goal and a seven-point lead instead of opening up an 11-point cushion.
1 – Games by which the Giants trail Dallas and Philadelphia in the NFC East
5 – Years since the Giants last swept the season series with Dallas (2004)
8 – Number of tackles for Jonathan Goff, who made his first career start at MLB
“This is the way we are used to playing football. We need to just keep playing like this and remember what this feels like.” – Giants C Shaun O’Hara
“Tough loss for us obviously. We gave up big plays that we don’t normally give up and that really hurt us.” – Cowboys Coach Wade Phillips