2 Key Plays Lead Blue to Crucial Victory

AP Photo - Bill Kostroun

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Considering Brandon Jacobs' affinity for boxing, you just knew he had to be thrilled to deliver the key jab that left Dallas with shaky knees. And he must've absolutely loved to see teammate Domenik Hixon deliver the knockout punch.

"We're back to our old selves," Jacobs pronounced moments after New York's most important victory of the season, a 31-24 decision over Dallas. "We have a tough Philadelphia team coming in here."

To face a tough Giants team that restored its ability to make big plays.

Jacobs was up first, taking an innocent looking short pass in the left flat and turning it into a 74-yard touchdown. Even he surprised himself with his jets.

"I caught it and was looking to get 15-20 (yards)," he said. "I had no idea it was going to go the distance. Eli (Manning) gave me a ball to catch and I just took off down the sideline. Darcy Johnson led me the whole way down. He did a phenomenal job."

So did Hixon, who put the icing on this most delicious of cakes. His 79-yard punt return for a touchdown extended the Giants' lead to 31-17 and basically salted away this must-have victory.

"We have been working so hard on it and to have it happen in a game like this is great," Hixon said. "Everybody did a great job of blocking and they set it up real well. It worked the way we needed it to. They were kicking the ball with great hang time and we didn't get a chance to set them up like we wanted to. But on the return it was just drawn up the way it was supposed to. Credit goes to those 10 guys up front. The game was close and we needed some momentum. And a play like that is a real statement."

A statement that Big Blue is back. Trailing the Cowboys and Eagles by only a game with four to play, New York is very much alive in an NFC East race that they seemed long out of only weeks ago.

"Hey, we just proved that we are a mentally tough team today," Jacobs said. "Our backs were against the wall and we came out and we played a real physical game. And every guy in this locker room is able to do that. We need to play like that every game. I thought our defense played phenomenal. We got a lot of pressure and I thought they stopped the run pretty well. And that is how you get wins."

A couple more victories and New York will be headed back to the postseason for the fifth season in a row.

Playoff picture

With the Giants on the precipice of falling out of the playoff picture entirely, they're now just a game out of first in NFC East. Considering they swept Dallas, the Cowboys' lead really amounts to only a half-game because if New York ends up tied with Dallas they hold the first tiebreaker. As for the Eagles, they still own a one game lead on Big Blue, but the Giants couldn't ask for a better opportunity to close that gap, as Philly invades Giants Stadium Sunday night. A Giants victory would give both clubs three conference losses.

With both the Falcons and 49ers losing to fall to 6-6, the only other NFC team with which the 7-5 Giants need to be concerned is Green Bay, which was 7-4 heading into its Monday night matchup with Baltimore.

For the defense

For all of the Giants' offensive outbursts, two defensive plays were not only critical to victory, but huge as far as momentum-building as well. Early in the second quarter, Barry Cofield met Dallas RB Marion Barber head on and basically threw the hard-charging RB backwards for a five-yard loss.

"I penetrated and got a good beat on the (snap) count," Cofield said. "(Cowboys RG Leonard) Davis hooked my arm, but I was still able to get to Barber. It might've helped that I had Leonard Davis on my back. I had 800 pounds on my side."

Four players later, rookie LB/DE Clint Sintim made by far the biggest play of his very young career. Sintim sliced in from the left side and dropped Tony Romo for a seven-yard sack. That forced Dallas to settle for a field goal after they had gotten inside New York's 10-yard line.

"It was a good feeling," Sintim said. "My eyes opened up bigger than you can imagine. It was cool to be out there. It was cool to play."

Bear market

TE Bear Pascoe made his NFL debut only two days after being signed off New York's practice squad. He chipped in immediately, posting two special teams tackles.

The 6-5, 251-pound Pascoe was a sixth-round draft choice by San Francisco this year. He was waived on Sept. 5 and signed to the Giants practice squad 10 days later.

New York signed DT Jeremy Clark to take Pascoe's place on the practice squad.

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