|New York Giants' cornerback R.W. McQuarters is surrounded by teammates after McQuarters' interception with 9 seconds left propelled the Giants into next weekend's NFC Championship Game. (Getty Images)|
I have to dispense with the usual 'Kudos & Wet Willies' format this morning. As far as the New York Giants are concerned, there are only 'kudos' to be handed out today, as they revel in ousting Dallas and reaching the NFC Championship Game.
In Dallas, there are plenty of 'Wet Willies,' to be handed out -- and plenty of questions to be asked. We will leave all of that to those who write about the Cowboys, however.
Let's focus on Big Blue, and this amazing run they are on that has the Giants within a victory of their fourth Super Bowl appearance.
I'm still amazed that the Giants won the game, considering the situation. A depleted secondary, a pass rush that couldn't get to Tony Romo most of the game, the inability to contain Marion Barber. Yet, somehow they found a way.
Resilient, determined, workman-like and gutty are words that come to mind to describe this team, and that's a credit to Tom Coughlin. Quite often it isn't pretty, but the Giants keep working until they get the job done.
'Kudos' mostly to the Giants' defense. Torched for 45 and 31 points in two regular-season meetings with Dallas, and minus cornerbacks Sam Madison and Kevin Dockery there was little reason to believe the Giants could slow Dallas on Sunday.
Touchdown drives of 96 and 90 yards in the first half by Dallas seemed to indicate that the Giants had no answers for the Dallas offense, and the situation got worse when cornerback Aaron Ross went out with a shoulder injury.
Yet, somehow, when they needed it most the Giants were finally able to pressure Romo. All-out blitzes of six and seven guys, and some quality work late by Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora didn't give Dallas a chance to exploit the weakened pass defense.
Speaking of that secondary, 'kudos' to Corey Webster and R.W. McQuarters.
Webster gave up a touchdown pass to Terrell Owens, and dropped an interception, yet played a solid game. Asked to shadow Owens the entire game, the fourth cornerback on the Giants' depth chart did an admirable job.
McQuarters, of course, came up with the game-clinching interception for the second straight week. Also, it was his 25-yard punt return that set up the game-winning score.
'Kudos' also have to be extended to defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. With a makeshift secondary Spagnuolo covered for it by selling out with the all-out pass rush that flustered Romo and allowed the Giants to hang on.
Offensively, the Giants also had plenty of heroes.
Let's start with Eli Manning. He had modest numbers (12-of 18, 163 yards, two touchdowns). There no turnovers, though, and the game-tying 71-yard drive in the final 47 seconds of the first half was a thing of beauty.
'Kudos' also to wide receivers Amani Toomer and Steve Smith. Toomer caught two touchdown poasses, including a 52-yard catch and run for the opening score. Smith, the rookie from USC, had his best game with 4 catches for 48 yards. His brilliant, leaping catch of a Manning pass set up the second Giants' touchdown.
I'm sure I've missed a few players worthy of 'kudos.' Let me know who else you think is deserving as we continue to celebrate moving on to the NFC Championship Game.