The 2012 New York Giants obviously can't do anything the easy way.
It would be false, not to mention unfair to the Dallas Cowboys, to suggest that the Giants earned yet another victory at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday. More accurately, New York survived their own shortcomings and a Dallas team that literally continued to fight right up until the final play of the game. A more cynical fan may be willing to say that Big Blue didn't deserve to win on this day. While I don't feel that way, I do believe that the Giants should consider themselves very fortunate to be at 6-2 overall and in control of the NFC East.
Giants defeat Cowboys 29-24: The obvious
I keep saying that New York routinely settling for field goals is eventually going to cost them a win, and the Giants really went out of the way to prove me wrong this time around. They thrice squandered chances to find the end zone in the opening 17 minutes of the game, yet still found themselves up 23-0 thanks to three Tony Romo interceptions, the last of which was taken to the house by Jason Pierre-Paul after JPP made an incredible leaping grab at the line.
The Cowboys absolutely deserve a ton of credit for not giving up despite being down three touchdowns and having their offense get booed off the field all before 20 minutes of play clock had ticked away. Imagine, however, that the Giants would have managed to turn just one of five field goals made by Lawrence Tynes (and thank heavens for Automatic Larry) into a touchdown drive. While New York may not have routed their hosts had that occurred, the last few minutes of the game certainly wouldn't have been as dramatic.
Giants defeat Cowboys 29-24: Play-maker
Stevie Brown may not always make the most acrobatic or athletic plays in the secondary (although the way he managed to keep both feet in-play on his second interception of the game was impressive), but his ability to be in the right place at the right time cannot be overlooked. The biggest play of the game, minus the Dez Bryant non-touchdown, just may have been Brown recovering a Felix Jones fumble in the fourth quarter.
This play sticks out for several reasons. First, it halted a Cowboys drive that appeared to be well on its way to at least a field goal that would have put Dallas back in front. That turnover resulted in a Tynes field goal, one that meant that the Cowboys couldn't win the game with only a single field goal. What I remember most about the fumble recovery was how Brown first attempted to pick up the ball and take it all the way down the field for six. He couldn't grab the ball with his first attempt, though, and thus he just fell on it.
Some players would have again tried to make the running recovery rather than just dive on the loose football. A lot can go wrong in such a scenario. Brown's head's up play ensured that the New York offense would take over on downs. It's these types of decisions that are made in the heat of the moment that win and lose games.
Giants defeat Cowboys 29-24: What it means
A day that saw three of four NFC East teams lose ends with the Giants as the division's only team at or above .500. New York's 6-2 record gives them an advantage of three games in the win column over Dallas (3-4), the Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) and Washington Redskins (3-5). Today's victory also erases the loss to Dallas that the Giants suffered in the season opener. Big Blue currently has a 2-2 record over NFC East teams this season.
Giants defeat Cowboys 29-24: Conclusion
You and a friend could examine this game from two very different angles and both be spot on. Some would say that the Giants were extremely lucky to survive choking away a 23-point lead. Others, however, could retort by mentioning that it shows true heart and character to not completely fold after suffering that significant of a setback when on the road. Once again, the Giants have many, many lessons to learn coming off a victory. The win is what matters most, and the fact that New York won in Dallas despite being guilty of a laundry list of errors tells you quite a bit about both of these teams.
Plenty of moments from this game will be discussed on sports talk shows on Monday morning. Is New York's play-calling handcuffing the team's offense? What happened to the New York defense, specifically the team's secondary and pass rush, during the middle half-hour of the game? Did the refs get it wrong on the ball-spot on New York's final offensive drive and/or the pass interference call that was ultimately never made, one that, had it stood, would have given the Cowboys the football at the New York one-yard line with under 1:30 to play?
Players make plays, and the Giants made, in my eyes, just one more play than did the Cowboys on this day.
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