It was a messy, odd game in some ways. The Giants could have scored 60 points and won by five touchdowns or so if they hadn't been generous enough to turn the ball over five times and allow a 93-yard punt return for a touchdown. But, hey, forget all the nitpicking. Giants' fans are smiling today, and Cowboys' fans are burying their heads in shame. So, a great day.
I will get to the 'Kudos & Wet Willies in a second. But, first, a musical selection in honor of the evening's festivities.
Mood Music: 'The Wicked Witch Is Dead.' Let me say it up front. No, I did not get enough sleep last night.
OK, now on with the 'Kudos & Wet Willies.'
Kudos to ...
Tom Coughlin: The Giants' coach was four-for-four on challenges Monday night, and many of those were critical replay reversals that helped the Giants score points. The challenge on the punt Dallas downed at the Giants' one-yard line was brilliant, allowing the Giants to start at the 20. Oh, and throw in an extra 'Kudos' for getting this team back on track after a 1-2 start.
Ahmad Bradshaw: Bradshaw leads the NFL in rushing yards with 708 after Monday's 24-carry, 126-yard effort. He fumbled once, but I'm not really blaming him for that. I'm blaming Bear Pascoe's butt, for getting in the way. Bradshaw is now averaging 101.1 yards per game.
- Hakeem Nicks: Nine catches, 108 yards and two touchdowns. The Cowboys had no answer in their secondary for Nicks. Maybe he could have caught Eli Manning's second interception, in fact maybe he should have, but that was not a well-thrown ball.
- Steve Smith: Nine catches, 101 yards and one touchdown for the Pro Bowl receiver, who is a pretty good "other guy" when it comes to the Giants' starting wide receivers.
- Brandon Jacobs: Twelve carries, 75 yards and one touchdown on a 30-yard run where the Cowboys more or less rolled out the red carpet and said 'please, Mr. Jacobs you just go right ahead and score.' This 'Kudos' is as much for Jacobs dancing on the star in the end zone after that touchdown as it is for anything else. I usually think end zone celebrations are ridiculous, but I have to admit enjoying that one.
- Kevin Gilbride: The Giants totaled 497 yards, scored 41 points, averaged 6.8 yards per play and held the ball for 37:31. Take issue with a play call here and there if you want, but the guy had to be doing something right.
- Lawrence Tynes: A 53-yard field goal after having a 43-yarder wiped out by penalty and a couple of balls driven deep into the back of the end zone on kickoffs. He needs to keep eating whatever he had for breakfast. That has to be the best I have ever seen him kick the ball.
- Bear Pascoe: If you watched the game you heard Pascoe's name called over and over again when commentators Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden were pointing out how running lanes were created for Bradshaw and Jacobs. A few weeks ago, not even Pascoe knew he was a fullback. Now, everybody knows it.
- Offensive line: Manning was sacked once, and there were holes to run through all night. DeMarcus Ware beat David Diehl once or twice, but Diehl held his own. I don't know how this aging line is still doing it, but they are getting the job done.
- Matt Dodge: Yes, Dez Bryant returned one of his kicks 93 yards for a touchdown. But, he hit three punts for an average off 55 yards. After all the complaints and the issues with the rookie punter, can we really criticize him for kicking the ball too far? I think not.
- Terrell Thomas and Corey Webster: I thought both Giants' cornerbacks were outstanding against Dallas. The tackle Thomas made on a run play by, I think it was Felix Jones, was probably the best wrap, lift, drive form tackle I have seen in an NFL game in a long time. A thing of beauty.
- Osi Umenyiora: Two tackles and no sacks, but that hardly tells the story. Umenyiora was flying around the edge wreaking havoc all night. He never got to Tony Romo or Jon Kitna, but he was breathing down their necks all night. Osi is a presence again, something he really has not been for a while.
- Barry Cofield: Nice little salary drive the free-agent-to-be defensive tackle has going. Two tackles, a sack and two forced fumbles for the guy who has become the anchor in the middle of the Giants' defense.
Wet Willies to ...
- Darius Reynaud: Can this guy make anybody miss? I'm starting to think that even if the opposing team just planted a bunch of cardboard cutouts around the field Reynaud would find a way to run into one of them. He averaged 13 yards, yes 13 lousy yards, on three kickoff returns and returned three punts for a grand total of 12 yards. Please be healthy next season, Domenik Hixon.
- Kick coverage: The Giants surrendered a 93-yard punt return for a score and a 41-yard kickoff return on a ball Tynes could "only" drive one yard deep into the end zone. Just when you thought it was safe for the Giants to kick the ball, too.
- Wade Phillips: I usually don't put the opponents in here, but I have to make special mention of 'Wilderness Wade.' Completely clueless on how to manage the game, his team was completely lifeless and was only in the game due to the fact that the Giants kept them there. They continue to make dumb mistakes, committing foolish and unnecessary penalties and turning the ball over. Wade will remain on the sidelines for the Cowboys, but his coaching career is over.
- Bear Pascoe's butt: Pascoe's derriere gets full blame for Bradshaw's fourth-quarter fumble. Bradshaw banged straight into Bear's backside, and the ball popped loose. C'mon, Bear, get that thing out of the way!
Kwillies to ...
- Eli Manning: Eli was tremendous Monday night. Except for when he wasn't. Maybe Nicks could have caught Manning's second first-quarter interception, but both the ball to Nicks and the one to Steve Smith were thrown well off target. On top of which, Terrence Newman should have intercepted Eli's second throw of the game, when Manning aired out a horrid throw toward Nicks. Then there was the stupid throw toward Pascoe with 4:27 left and the Giants leading by 18 points that was intercepted, handing Dallas a bit of hope. Other than all of that, Manning was phenomenal. He finished 25-of-35 for 306 yards and four touchdowns. He made some incredible throws and was in command much of the night. It just mystifies me how, every so often, Eli has a Brett Favre moment and either throws a terrible ball or does something inexplicable.