Last game of the regular season. A long, storied rivalry. The winner takes the division title and the final NFC playoff slot. The loser goes home and dusts off their golf clubs. You can’t write the script any better than that.
2012 started off on the right foot for the New York Giants and their fans as they defeated the Dallas Cowboys for the second time this season by a 31-14 margin to clinch the NFC East title, guaranteeing at least one more week of New York Giants football in perhaps the sweetest fashion possible. The Giants will face the Atlanta Falcons in New York next Sunday in the first round of the playoffs.
Thoughts from the game-
-Surprise, surprise- Victor Cruz came up big once again. What else is there left to say about him that hasn’t already been said?
-Hakeem Nicks get a lot of attention for his receiving talents (and rightly so). But he also deserves to get some props for the job that he does when it comes to blocking downfield for his teammates. If he doesn’t make the blocks that he did on Cruz’s touchdown catch and Ahmad Bradshaw’s first tally, those guys might not have scored.
-Travis Beckham really needs to work on his blocking. He struggled last week against the Jets and again tonight against Dallas. The Giants are definitely missing Jake Ballard in that regard.
-My fondness for Henry Hynoski continues to grow. It’s nice to have a fullback with hands, isn’t it?
-Eli Manning’s touchdown to Nicks was his fifteenth of the season in the fourth quarter- a new NFL record.
-Speaking of Eli Manning, it was mentioned tonight that his pocket awareness and movement has been so much better this year than in previous seasons, and that has a lot to do with his success this year. I could not agree more.
-It’s amazing how much better the entire Giants defense plays when the defensive line dominates. And it wasn’t just Jason Pierre-Paul getting pressure tonight. Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Chris Canty all contributed. New York managed six sacks tonight and Tony Romo never really got much of a chance to get comfortable.
-The Giants did manage to get a few breaks tonight, managing to recover one fumble and then DeMarcus Ware being flagged for jumping offsides when the Cowboys recovered another Giants fumble.
-The offensive line has consistently played well as a whole in the past week or two. Jay Ratliff and Ware hardly got a sniff at Manning all night. The Giants running game still isn’t a strong as I’d like but they’re definitely better off running the ball to Kevin Boothe’s side when he’s in at guard.
-It was, once again, an overall team effort, with both the offense and defense playing well. The defense managed to contain the Cowboys well and the offense was able to score when needed. The Giants are on a bit of a hot streak right now and if they play like they did tonight, they can beat just about any team they’re up against.