The New York Giants, who had the toughest schedule in all of the NFL, are now the 2011 NFC East Champions and headed to the playoffs for the first time in three years. Sunday night wasn't the typical Giants-Cowboys matchup. New York scored first, scored early and maintained their lead throughout. The G-Men dominated the game, for the most part. But Dallas, as expected, didn't make it easy.
The Giants started out by winning the coin toss and opting to kick the ball to the Cowboys. The first two drives, for both teams, were uneventful - aside from some stand up defensive play.
Jason Pierre-Paul, who ran like a well-oiled machine all night long, recorded his first sack of the game on the second offensive Cowboys drive. The sack also resulted in a loss of twelve yards and a punt. The New York defense kept the Cowboys offense limited to three scoreless drives, two of which went three and out.
On the second offensive drive for the Giants, Eli Manning hooked up with Victor Cruz, in what is becoming an all too familiar, huge play down field. On a third-and-one at the Giants' 26-yard line, Manning found Cruz for a 74-yard touchdown. A lively salsa dance ensued.
The Boys got the ball back but were unable to do much of anything with it. Osi Umenyiora, back from an injury that has kept him out of action recently, gave Tony Romo a taste of MetLife Stadium's turf, adding his first sack of the night to his stat sheet.
The Giants offense, sparked by the defensive efforts, began a twelve yard drive that ended with an Ahmad Bradshaw rushing touchdown, making the score 14-0. Two drives later, Bradshaw became a hero once again by taking a ten yard pass into the end zone. The Giants, cohesive as I have seen them this season, shut the Cowboys down completely, leaving the scoreboard lopsided, 21-0.
In typical Big Blue fashion, things began to fall apart at the seams. Dallas kept the Giants scoreless and confused for most of the third quarter. In the first Cowboys drive, Romo lead his team down field in a nine-yard play for their first touchdown of the night. Despite giving seven points, the Giants defense were amped up. Osi Umenyiora recorded his second sack on Romo and Antrel Rolle came up with a huge interception.
On the first Cowboys drive of the fourth quarter, Romo was able to find his way into the end zone once more. It only took three plays and 1:25 seconds. It would be the last points that they would put up on the board for the night and season.
The G-Men scored another 10 points to cap off the game and extend their season. Perry Fewell certainly did his homework. The defensive unit worked together better than in any game I have seen them play this season. The secondary played with a renewed spirit. The linebackers kept their zones manned. The defensive backs wreaked havoc.
Eli Manning did what he has been doing all season long, making big things happen. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw ran the ball well enough, as a tandem, to keep the chains moving. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, were stoning, not surprisingly. The use of DJ Ware, Henry Hynoski and Bear Pascoe helped open up the field and confuse the Cowboys.
Hats off to Kevin Gilbride and Perry Fewel for calling a very good game. Tom Coughlin was able to motivate his staff and players enough to believe that they have what it takes to make it to the playoffs. The Giants have played some of the best teams in the league this seasons and age them hell. They're about to face a few more of them, the Atlanta Falcons being the next on the list. They'll have the luxury to host the Falcons next week and if they can build on the momentum that they have going for them now, they just might live to see another day.