This game was a must-win for the Giants, and they rose to the occasion. It wasn’t a pretty victory, but you don’t get any style points in the NFL. A win is a win, and this was a particularly thrilling and satisfying one. Their 37-34 win (another fourth quarter comeback!) over the Cowboys gave them a half game lead over Dallas in the NFC East.
Looks like the Giants-Cowboys showdown in the final week of the season is going to be a very significant one.
Observations from the game:
-There was, of course, lots of buzz about the fact that Ahmad Bradshaw didn’t start or play in the entire first half for disciplinary reasons. It sounded like he was late to curfew. I didn’t think it was as big a deal as so many people were making it out to be. Nothing wrong with Tom Coughlin sticking to his guns. And honestly, Brandon Jacobs played so well throughout the entire game- averaging close to six yards per carry- that the Giants didn’t really miss him too much.
The running game has looked much better in the past two weeks, which is an encouraging sign for a team that has struggled with running the ball all year, and needs to win big down the stretch.
-I wish Kevin Gilbride knew that he’s allowed to call a play in the red zone that’s not a fade in the back corner of the endzone. We all know that it’s coming at this point. Variety is the spice of life, so mix it up a little please.
-That’s not the only bone to pick with Gilbride’s play calling either. Towards both the end of the second quarter and a little more than halfway through the fourth, the Giants had a third and short around midfield and both times, Gilbride had Eli Manning take a shot downfield. Why would you not focus on getting the first down there? There’s the “they were trying to catch the defense off-guard” argument, but Dallas didn’t look fooled on either play to me.
-Jason Pierre-Paul put up another monster game. He had a sack, a safety and a forced fumble deep in Dallas territory that set up a touchdown. Not to mention the blocked field goal in the fourth quarter that sealed the game for New York. I can’t say enough about how good he’s been this season.
I know the Pro Bowl doesn’t mean anything, but how he was left off the ballot is beyond me.
-Having a healthy Hakeem Nicks bolsters the passing game, it’s true, but something he doesn’t get enough credit for is his blocking downfield. It’s always gratifying to see wide receivers who actually put effort into blocking for their teammates.
-Henry Hynoski has been an unsung hero for the Giants this season. He’s a big reason why the Giants, going with yet another new offensive line combination, didn’t give up a single sack and reached over 100 rushing yards in this game. And his block made Jacobs’s second touchdown happen. I’m enjoying watching him at fullback.
-It seems like Chris Canty is always hurt when the Giants play Dallas so he must’ve been thrilled to register a sack in this game.
-I don’t know what’s going on with New York’s secondary. For the fourth or fifth week in a row, there has been a miscommunication between a cornerback and a safety that led to blown coverage and a long touchdown by the opposing team. And it’s not rookies making these mistakes either. In this particular game, it was a miscommunication between Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle that allowed Dez Bryant to get wide-open and score a touchdown that very nearly cost the Giants the game.
-Jake Ballard always seems to come up with a big play during the Giants’ game-winning drives, doesn’t he?
-The Giants caught two huge breaks in the fourth quarter. One when Tony Romo overthrew Miles Austin on a play that would’ve given the Cowboys a fresh set of downs (and probably a touchdown) after the Giants scored to make it 34-29. The other was when Dallas was flagged for an offsides call on the bad snap of the final drive that would’ve set New York’s offense back quite a few yards.
-Tom Coughlin’s decision to try and ice the kicker- something that, statistically speaking, rarely works- paid off, huh? Apparently the timeout allowed Pierre-Paul to take a different route than he did on the field goal that was blown dead, which allowed him to come free and block the kick.