By Paul Dottino
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There is fight left in these Giants after all.
We saw it last weekend against Green Bay and they had enough gas in their tank to overcome a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit to stun Dallas, 37-34, Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium. This marked the third time in the building’s three years that the Giants shocked the Dallas fans in the final quarter.
So the Giants (7-6) have regained control of their own destiny with three games to play. They are tied with Dallas atop the NFC East and their easiest way to clinch the division would be to combine a win over Washington or the Jets with a victory over Cowboys in the season finale – with all three games at MetLife Stadium.
Eli Manning? Well, that’s six comeback victories this season and 20 for his career. He was 27-of-47 for 400 yards with two TDs and an interception (off a deflected screen pass). Perhaps most amazing of all, he did a great job of getting rid of the ball despite constant pressure and did not take a sack.
The offensive line, which blocked for 110 rushing yards and two TDs, allowed him to face a lot of pressure from a heavy Dallas blitz package throughout most of the night, but held up when it counted the most – the Giants’ two TD drives with less than six minutes to play.
Offense – RB Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs (19-101, 2 TDs) ran with power and authority – kind of like a bully. To illustrate this point, just look at how he rumbled for the winning 1-yard TD behind the right side of the line with 46 seconds remaining. His second-quarter TD from the 1 was of the same variety – and both were behind lead blocker Henry Hynoski. It was Jacobs’ first 100-yard game in a year and was significant because Ahmad Bradshaw was benched for the first half (more later). Jacobs helped establish an attitude early, by ramming his way for 62 yards and a score on 13 carries in the first half.
Defense- DE Jason Pierre-Paul. How many big plays did this guy make – from the blocked field goal on the Cowboys’ final snap to the forced fumble (Felix Jones) at the Dallas 9 with 1:38 left in the first half to his two sacks (including a first-quarter safety)? Sure to be overlooked is how he raced over to knock Jones out of bounds in the left flat at the Dallas 48 with 24 seconds left in the fourth when the back had to settle for six yards instead of making a big play.
Special teams-DE Jason Pierre-Paul. That’s right, he gets to double up this week. He got push and sliced up the middle around Montrae Holland to block Dan Bailey’s 47-yard field goal attempt, preserving the win with 1 second to play.
Offense – RB Ahmad Bradshaw. He was benched for the first half after he missed Saturday night’s team curfew. Coach Tom Coughlin always puts “team” first and this individual – no matter how critical to the Giants’ running game – paid the price. It is inexcusable that Bradshaw would put Coughlin in a position to have to sit him down in a game of this magnitude. Bradshaw came in for the third quarter and finished the night with eight carries for 12 yards.
Defense – CB Aaron Ross. He got beat by Miles Austin on passes of 22 and 23 yards during Dallas’ final drive, putting the ball at the Cowboys 42 and the Giants 29, respectively. These two pass plays got a bit lost because of JPP’s heroics. Austin also beat Ross for a 6-yard TD along the right sideline to put Dallas up, 27-22 with 12:43 to play.
Special teams- WR Devin Thomas. He made a huge blunder by hesitating as he tried to down a punt inside the Dallas 5 with 14:14 to play. Rather he wound up touching the goal line and allowed the Cowboys to gain a touchback. Four plays later, Austin’s TD made it a five-point game.
What was your reaction after the JPP blocked field goal? Let us know in the comments below!