By Steve Silverman
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Those that didn’t give up on the New York Giants may be getting ready to receive their miracle.
That group could probably fit in one large-sized taxi cab that takes them from Midtown Manhattan to MetLife Stadium.
The Giants were dead and almost buried when they were 0-6. Eli Manning couldn’t stop throwing interceptions and the defense was undependable, at best.
Now at 4-6, they are not yet a good team, but they are building something. If the Giants can continue to improve, they could reach 7-6 before they host the powerhouse Seattle Seahawks in Week 15.
That’s still a long way from now.
The Giants have taken advantage of four troubled opponents during their winning streak, and they should be able to beat the Dallas Cowboys (5-5) at home Sunday.
However, the Cowboys will be much more of a challenge than the Packers were last week. The Cowboys have prolific Tony Romo behind center, and he’s clearly a lot better than Green Bay’s Scott Tolzien, the third-string quarterback who threw three interceptions.
None of the picks were more representative of the Giants’ turnaround than the 24-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter by Jason Pierre-Paul.
Tom Coughlin has seemingly been waiting for Pierre-Paul to provide him a big play since the Giants took down the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
Pierre-Paul has been troubled by back problems and he may not be 100 percent yet, but he was healthy enough to make the game-clinching play.
The Giants’ defense has picked it up in recent weeks. It struggled early on, but is now ranked 11th in yards allowed and seventh against the run. It is not a dominant defense, but it is moving in the right direction.
If the Giants are going to continue their winning streak, it’s advisable that they find a way to force Romo into turnovers. That’s been the MO for beating the Cowboys in crucial games and won’t change until the Dallas quarterback proves differently.
There are two ways to do this. If the Giants can pressure Romo with their front four and get sacks, sack-strips or force bad throws into double coverage, they will be golden. However, it’s unlikely because the Giants have an NFL-low 14 sacks this season.
The other way to help Romo make mistakes is by taking away the Cowboys’ running game and make him throw the ball on nearly every play.
That approach is much more viable. The Cowboys would like DeMarco Murray to give them a decent running attack and the stats say that he is a decent back, because he has gained 548 yards and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. However, Murray is not like Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris, Frank Gore and Eddie Lacy and he does not run with the kind of toughness that might give a solid run defense a battle. He’s quite likely to run out of bounds or look for a spot to fall down once he gets hit hard early in the game.
Nonetheless, the Giants must shut down Murray and disguise their coverages as much as possible so they can tempt Romo into mistakes.
The Cowboys will be harder to beat than the Raiders or Packers were the last two weeks, but the Giants should have enough to find a way. Beating Washington on the road next week will also be a great challenge, but that game appears winnable because the Redskins are besieged by internal problems.
The Giants desperately need to get to .500 by the end of Week 13. That’s a jumping off point for winning the NFC East.
That looked like it would be impossible in mid-October, but the Giants have been quasi-respectable in recent weeks.
The dream will stay alive if they can take care of business against Jerry Jones’ mistake-laden team.
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