Quarterback Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys falls on the ball in the end zone as a safety is called in the first quarter in front of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants at Cowboys Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Well, New York Giants fans. This is a very happy edition of our weekly 'Kudos & Wet Willies.' We are celebrating the saving of a season today rather than mourning the death of one. Let's get right down to business.
- Jason Pierre-Paul: Forget the impressive numbers (eight tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a blocked field goal), they don't begin to tell you how dominant Pierre-Paul's performance was Sunday night. A commenter pointed out Sunday night that four of Pierre-Paul's plays stopped Dallas drives. Add to that that two of them led to Giants' points and the blocked field goal saved the game. The quality of the plays JPP executed Sunday night made what he did as good a defensive performance from a down lineman as you will ever see.
- Eli Manning: What more can be said about this guy? If you haven't figured out by now that he is pretty special, and that you are getting to watch the best quarterback to ever play for the New York Giants, you will probably never figure it out. He has led five fourth-quarter comebacks this season, and now 20 for his career. He blew past 4,000 yards passing Sunday night and is on pace for an incredible 5,000. The now has 14 fourth-quarter touchdown passes this season, tying the record for the most for a single season in NFL history. He was fortunate early on a bad throw that Terence Newman dropped that could have been a Pick Six, but when the Giants needed him at the end he played the quarterback position as well as it can be played.
Kudos To ...
Brandon Jacobs: Nineteen carries for 101 yards and two touchdowns taking over for the benched and then largely ineffective Ahmad Bradshaw. The Cowboys called Jacobs a bully in the buildup to the game, Jacobs gladly accepted the moniker and said he planned to bully the Dallas defense, Then he went out and did it, playing his best game as a Giant in a long, long time. It was his first 100-yard game since back-to-back 100+ yard efforts last season against Washington and Jacksonville, and his most carries since he had 20 Nov. 1, 2011 in a loss to Philadelphia. Plus, he hurdled a Cowboy defender and danced on a Dallas end zone star. He gets extra 'Kudos' just for the dance, I think.
Hakeem Nicks: Seven catches for 154 yards, including a 64-yarder. Nicks was outstanding all night, spending much of his time ignoring double teams to make plays.
Henry Hynoski: It may have gone unnoticed by many, but this was clearly Hynoski's best game. He cleared out two Dallas defenders on Jacobs' game-winning touchdown plunge, and was a critical part of the success of the Giants' running game all night.
Mitch Petrus: I have no idea what his PFF grade will be, and his pass-blocking may have been suspect. The guy is a road-grader as a run-blocker, though, and his work the past two weeks is a big part of the reason the Giants have been running the ball the way they expect to.
Jake Ballard: Four catches, three of them critical ones in the last two 'must-score' drives for the Giants.
Tom Coughlin: For the timeout that negated Dan Bailey's tying field goal. Icing the kicker almost never works -- unless you are Jason Garrett and you ice your own kicker -- but the timeout gave Pierre-Paul a chance to make a game-saving play, which he did. Also for sticking to his beliefs and chaining Ahmad Bradshaw to the bench in the first half. No player is bigger than the team, no matter what the circumstances.
Kwillies To ...
Victor Cruz: Kept on Cruz-ing in more ways than one. Seven catches for 83 yards, which is the good Cruz. Two drops, including one that would have been a 25-30-yard gain, which is the bad Cruz.
Mario Manningham: A touchdown catch and a huge play to haul in a fourth-down pass. But, Mario, geez, you can't drop perfectly thrown touchdown passes that land right in your hands in the final minute of a game when you have to score. Manning could not have walked down the field and placed that ball any better, and Manningham could not come up with it. That play could have killed the Giants' season.
Wet Willies to ...
Ahmad Bradshaw: A violation of team rules, most likely curfew-related? On the eve of a game that will make or break your team's season? Give me a break Ahmad. And you weren't very good once you got out there, with just 12 yards on eight carries. Thank goodness Jacobs showed up, and showed up big.
Jacquian Williams: The rookie is going to be a good NFL linebacker. Last night was another rough one in Williams' education, though. A bad penalty, a second penalty that should have been called on him, and he got victimized in the pass game and a couple of times in space where he missed tackles.
Tyler Sash: Played only a few snaps, and I don't think he saw the field again on defense after he was completely helpless on a nine-yard touchdown pass to Laurent Robinson in the second quarter. He just doesn't look ready to be a contributor to an NFL defense.
Justin Tuck: You have to love Tuck. You know he is giving everything he has, and he went off the field briefly Sunday night with some sort of toe injury. But, look at the stat sheet. Tuck played a signficant portion of the game, and his name is not on it. Not even one assisted tackle.
Kevin Boothe's Shotgun Snaps: Toward the end of the game Boothe was all over the place with his snaps, including one about two yards wide right. Thank goodness for DeMarcus Ware, though. Two penalties on Ware on the final two Giants' drives, including one that bailed out Boothe on that awful snap. Might be the first time Ware has ever actually helped the Giants instead of destroyed them.
Aaron Ross: The former first-round pick played well early in the season, but it seems every time you see him the past few games he is chasing after guys who ran by him to catch the ball. Thank God Tony Romo acted like, well, Tony Romo the last time Dallas had the ball. Miles Austin ran right by Ross for what should have been a game-clinching 81-yard touchdown pass, but Romo threw the ball three yards over Austin's head.