Giants vs. Cowboys analysis: Five key plays

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

A look at five key plays in the Giants' 29-24 victory over the Cowboys on Sunday.

For the first time in his life, having enormous hands cost Dez Bryant on a football field, whether or not the Dallas Cowboys will be able to handle (hardy har har!) this potentially devastating loss remains to be seen, but right now the New York Giants have a record of 6-2 with big lead in the NFC East and looking like they are on their way to the playoffs. Unless, of course their is another second-half swoon.

Before I get to the five big plays in the game I want to use my platform to address a few thoughts about the game with a little fact or fiction ESPN style (meaning it's really just my opinion presented as truth).

1) The Giants defense played poorly in the loss to the Dallas Cowboys

Fiction. I thought the defense played well, maybe even very well in Sunday's game, even though it felt like they were getting abused from the second quarter on. I think the reason for the perception that they played poorly is because they couldn't protect a 23-point lead, and the Cowboys compiled a lot of passing yards.

But that is misleading. Tony Romo dropped back an astounding 62 times in the game while completing only 36 of his passes (58 percent) for 437 yards (7.0 yards per attempt, which is equivalent to what Russel Wilson has done this season, or 20th best in the league), 1 TD and 4 INT. Romo left the game with a QB rating of 58.3, he was also sacked four times (not a huge number because of all of the drop backs) and hit plenty of other times. Yes it was annoying that Jason Witten caught 18 passes, but that's because Witten was the Cowboys running game yesterday as Felix Jones had 19 yards on 13 rushes. Witten had 18 catches, but averaged less than 10 yards per catch.

We also have to keep in mind that the Cowboys were in desperation mode for much of the game, and the fourth-down try at the goal line is an example of that. We must also remember that even though the time of possession doesn't look bad (about 32 minutes for the Cowboys) almost all of that came in the last 45 minutes of the game, which also hurt the Giants' raw numbers.

And finally, how many points did the Cowboys score in the fourth quarter? Zero.

What I will say is that the Giants have to look at doing something differently in terms of Jayron Hosley matching up against Miles Austin in the slot against the Cowboys in the future. Austin is just too big and strong for Hosley.

2. It's a major concern that the Giants offense struggled against NFC East Opponents this year

Fact/Fiction. Eli Manning's three worst games this season have come against divisional opponents. So? We're all guilty of being prisoners of the moment from time to time and this reaction is no different. Division games across the entire league are often screwy. Tom Brady threw four picks against the Bills last year in one game. It happens. That does not worry me, what worries me is that in all three games, there have been times the Giants haven't been able to run on heavy doses of seven-man front looks, which in turn allowed the Cowboys and Eagles, especially, to limit the Giants passing game. That needs to improve.

3. Mark Herzlich caused the fumble on Dez Bryant

Fiction. Saw this debate in one of the threads. When I was watching it live and even when I watched it again on replay it looked like Herzlich caused the fumble, but I looked at it in slow motion and frame by frame, and I'm convinced it was Zak DeOssie.

And now onto the regularly scheduled Top Five Steve Browns...err...Top Five Plays

Play 1 -- Steve Brown intercepts Tony Romo to set up the Giants second field goal

This guy is going to need his own chant soon. Cruuuuuuuuuzzzzz rolls right off the tongue and sounds good in a crowd. Browwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!! Doesn't have the same effect, but he seems to be catching the ball as often as Cruz lately. Brown leads the league in combined turnovers (interceptions and fumble recoveries). Who saw that coming before the season?

Play 2 -- Dez Bryant fumbles a punt return, recovers, fumbles again

I'm skipping the Corey Webster turnover, which was of course important, because it lead to an Andre Brown touchdown run (which the coaching staff hated and decided to punish Brown by not letting him run much the rest of the game) because I can't list every one of the Cowboys turnovers. This turnover was significant because it put the Giants up 16 points, which is basically three scores. This punt also knocked Bryant off of punt returns until the last one though this facet did not have a huge impact on the game.

Play 3 -- Jason Pierre Paul picks off Tony Romo's pass and takes it to the house

I said to my wife -- game over. And immediately cringed. If I felt this way surely the Giants felt this way. This should have been a dagger.

Play 4 -- Steve Brown recovers a fumble; then for good measure intercepts Romo again

Brown tried to pick up this ball here and run it into the end zone because he knew there was no way the offense would get it into the end zone, but he couldn't pick it up cleanly and decided to just fall on the ball. The Giants would go on to kick a field goal (round of applause for Tynes by the way) after four straight Bradshaw runs and a five-yard completion to Domenik Hixon.

This field goal put the Giants five points up and made it necessary for the Cowboys to score a touchdown to win.

Then the next possession Steve Brown intercepted a fourth-down desperation pass from Tony Romo that should have clinched the game.

Play 5 - Dez Bryant's Hand touches the back line of the end zone

Thank [Insert Your Diety].

Thoughts? There were a lot of big important plays for both teams, but because the Giants won I decided to focus on the positive plays that lead to their win and not the negative plays that cost them, although that would have been an easy post, heavy on offense.

And of course, hopefully you are all safe.

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