X's and O's: Giants 31, Cowboys 24

X's and O's: Giants 31, Cowboys 24

Here is a look at how the Giants did, position by position, against the Cowboys.

QUARTERBACKS

It was a weird game for Eli Manning, who only completed 11 passes, but gained 241 yards in the process. He underthrew a pass to Mario Manningham that was intercepted by Mike Jenkins in the end zone in the third quarter. But he also floated just a perfect pass that Steve Smith dropped in the end zone.

Bottom line: With the one obvious exception, Manning didn't make any big mistakes in this key game.

RUNNING BACKS

Was that really Brandon Jacobs? Tom Coughlin said it was the fastest he'd ever seen Jacobs motor and he wasn't kidding. He took Eli Manning's short pass and turned it into the game's biggest play racing down the left sideline and providing a little fancy footwork to stay in bounds along the way. Ahmad Bradshaw's second-quarter fumble led to a Dallas touchdown.

Bottom line: This is the Brandon Jacobs we signed up for this season. If he stays hot, look out NFC East.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

For as crushing as Steve Smith's end zone drop that could've salted the game away appeared at the time in the fourth quarter, it didn't end up hurting New York. He did catch six passes for 110 yards, including a key 36-yard grab to convert a third down in the third period. How about Kevin Boss galloping 16 yards with an inside handoff?

Bottom line: The biggest catch of the day was actually turned in by a running back, but after a win like this, no one cares in the least.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Now this is the Giants offensive line we all know and love. They gave Eli Manning more than enough time to throw. Against a very tough and physical Cowboys defense Manning was only sacked once and hit on six other occasions. The line also did a great job of cutting down on the penalty front, committing only one infraction all game long (a false start on David Diehl).

Bottom line: Kevin Boothe stepped in at right guard for the injured Chris Snee and the line didn't miss a beat.

DEFENSIVE LINE

The shakeup along the defensive line paid off nice dividends. With DT Chris Canty (for Fred Robbins) and RDE Mathias Kiwanuka (for Osi Umenyiora) in the starting lineup, the Giants D-line did a nice job against Dallas. Kiwi made an immediate impact, posting six tackles, three QB hits and a forced fumble. NT Barry Cofield made a great play to shoot through the line and knock Marion Barber back for a loss of five yards early in the second quarter.

Bottom line: Even though Canty didn't appear to do a whole lot, you can bet you'll see the same starting four next week against Philly.

LINEBACKERS

New York certainly made the right move at MLB. Take nothing away from Chase Blackburn, but Jonathan Goff sure looked like he could play some football in his first career start. He finished with eight tackles, including four solo stops, and was often right in the middle of the action. Michael Boley had 11 tackles and also batted away a key third-down pass. Rookie Clint Sintim blitzed from the left side and dropped Tony Romo for a seven-yard sack, which forced Dallas to settle for a field goal.

Bottom line: This is the type of inspired play we knew the linebackers had in them.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Aaron Rouse continues to make play after play at free safety. His signature move was the six-yard sack he posted. He also registered another QB hit and a tackle for loss. Oh, and he also tackled a dozen Cowboys. This was Rouse's best game since he took over for C.C. Brown, who started for the injured Michael Johnson and posted nine tackles and a QB hit. Corey Webster made one beautiful pass breakup in the end zone, but was also beaten more in coverage than we're used to seeing.

Bottom line: The final line of defense certainly bent often, but they never really broke and were integral to the victory.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Domenik Hixon couldn't have put a better exclamation point on this game, fielding a punt, reversing field and racing 79 yards to paydirt. That extended Big Blue's lead to two touchdowns with only slightly more than five minutes to play. Jeff Feagles' average net on his five punts was just shy of 40 yards, which was just wonderful.

Bottom line: With one huge play, the special teams ensured an enormous victory for Big Blue.

COACHING

With the defensive stats still didn't look good, the coaching staff's decision to change two of the starting D-linemen was brilliant. For all the recent criticisms leveled at Bill Sheridan he walked off the field a winner, which is the most important thing. And it's amazing when the players execute and a simple flare pass to Brandon Jacobs goes for a long TD how smart the offensive coordinator looks.

Bottom line: With his team's backs to the wall and season on the line, Tom Coughlin was able to coax a convincing victory out of his troops.

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