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New York Giants News and Notes: NFC East Champs Edition

Good morning fellow Giants fans, and it is a really good morning as we sit here on Monday. The Giants are in the postseason for the first time in three years, the first time since the Donovan McNabb sideline phone call. Hey, not that karma means anything all the time, but I wonder what that guy is up to. Also, for the first time I can remember, the Giants are ONLY NFC East team in the big dance. I'm putting that on my to-do list today, researching if that's ever happened before. Anyway, I didn't sleep much last night as I'm sure most of you did not. After Big Blue jumped out to a 21-0 lead and then hung on for dear life as Tony Romo attempted his best Mike Vick Meadowlands Magic impression, it was hard not to be amped up. In the end, the Giants were the ones who created the magic--especially Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, JPP, Michael Boley and Justin Tuck. Ed will have more kudos later, and he had some of the highlights at the mother ship, but those Giants' players immediately stand out in my mind. Okay, so.....we can bask in this for a day, and then it's time to focus on the Falcons.

Coach Tom Coughlin echoed what we are all feeling Monday morning, using the words "nerve wracking," "opportunity" and "finish" in the same clip:

"There were some times tonight where there was some nerve wracking, in particular the third quarter. We straightened it around and finished the game the way we wanted to finish it, finish the season the way we wanted to finish it and create an opportunity for ourselves to be in the playoffs and everything goes forward from here."

Politi: NY Giants are storming into the playoffs after beating Dallas Cowboys |
...this looked nothing like a team sneaking into the postseason. The Giants are barreling through the door with a familiar formula, one that could keep them at the party for a while if things break their way.

NY Giants defensive end Justin Tuck says Big Blue can win Super Bowl XLVI - NY Daily News
Justin Tuck was seated in front of his locker grinning as his teammates paraded nearby wearing their black NFC East champions hat. Now that the Giants are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2008 — and after Tuck and Chris Snee dumped the Gatorade bucket on Snee’s father-in-law Tom Coughlin — they believe they are ready to go on a run.

New York Giants are a legitimate Super Bowl threat - ESPN New York
They resembled a legitimate contender for the first time since Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in a Manhattan nightclub in 2008, blowing a hole through his leg and the Giants' two-peat aims. No, a 9-7 team that went 3-5 in the second half doesn't often amount to a credible contender. The Giants were not the Green Bay Packers in the regular season, nor were they the San Francisco 49ers or the New Orleans Saints. Not even close. But sometimes the hottest team, not the best team, wins the Super Bowl, and the Cowboys and Jets have allowed the Giants to get healthy and hot.

There is that old adage that you just have to get in, and anything can happen. And I'd much rather be the Giants today than, say, the Houston Texans, and a deep run in the postseason might still be a long-shot, but it's not out of the question.

New York Giants' Victor Cruz torches Dallas Cowboys' secondary |
They had seen this before: The way Cruz can catch a sliver of open space and turn the remaining field into a track meet. They had seen it a week ago when Cruz rendered a flat-footed Jets secondary dumbfounded with a 99-yard catch-and-run that awoke a sleepy Giants offense.

Giants Keep Resilience Amid Arid Stretch -
Maybe that is good enough. Maybe one playoff victory is sufficient for a team that lost five of six games in one arid stretch but did not collapse from doubt or internal dissension. At the least, the Giants have shown commendable resilience the past two weeks, winning vital games when missing the playoffs for a third straight season was the only other option.

Eli Manning proves he is an elite quarterback for Giants -
Those who had their doubts had better recognize now as Manning put the finishing touches on a brilliant regular season with a gritty performance against the Cowboys. Wide receiver Victor Cruz will be featured in all the highlights and get most of the accolades as the hero of the game. But it was Manning who orchestrated the championship effort with one of the best games of his eight-year career.

NY Giants defense roughs up Cowboys QB Tony Romo, who gets no help from his teammates - NY Daily News
It wasn't quite the 44-6 pasting the Cowboys took from the Eagles in the 2008 finale. But all in all, Sunday night’s 31-14 loss to the Giants in a win-or-go home showdown was just another chapter in Dallas’ recent history of coming up small in big games. The Cowboys can now spend the offseason ruing where the season was really lost, on a Tony Romo incompletion with Miles Austin wide open for what have been a game-sealing catch in the first meeting. They let the Giants off the hook that night and their rivals weren’t about to blow their second life.

Giants’ Michael Boley makes key stop on Cowboys’ Tony Romo -
Once down 21-0, the Cowboys narrowed the deficit to 21-7 and early in the fourth quarter faced a fourth-and-1 on the Giants’ 10-yard line. Dallas coach Jason Garrett eschewed a chip-shot field goal attempt in favor of a Tony Romo quarterback sneak attempt that was snuffed out when Boley, anticipating the play, launched off his feet and met Romo in the air, dropping him for no gain, with help from Jason Pierre-Paul.

This guy sure makes Perry Fewell look good sometimes, doesn't he? Oh wait, lookie here...

Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell sees unit respond just in time, with Rams reportedly set to fire coach Steve Spagnuolo - NY Daily News
The revival of the Giants defense may have come just in time for Perry Fewell. It won’t happen now, but if the Giants had wanted to change defensive coordinators after watching the unit slip to 28th in the rankings before Sunday night, they likely soon would have had a reason. Steve Spagnuolo, the popular former Giants defensive coordinator, will reportedly soon be fired by the St. Louis Rams.

NY Giants get big breaks in win over Dallas Cowboys |
Tonight, in their 31-14 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, everything seemed to swing their way, thanks in part to some questionable decisions and plays by Dallas as well as a few loose balls that slipped out of the Cowboys’ hands.

With loss, Jerry Jones sees the real Cowboys |
The New York Giants did the Cowboys a huge favor Sunday night. The Giants ended a season that had been too long and too frustrating for the Cowboys. That allows owner-general manager-talent caretaker Jerry Jones to begin the rebuilding process Monday with a clear vision of what needs to be done for the Cowboys to take the next step toward playoff contention in 2012.

Giants ready for battle with Falcons -
Mathias Kiwanuka has a decent familiarity with Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Kiwanuka was teammates with Ryan at Boston College, and he has also played against him in the NFL. "The toughest part for us is going to be making sure we’re in the right spots," Kiwanuka said after the Giants’ 31-14 victory over the Cowboys last night, "because that ball comes out hot and quick." The Giants will face Ryan and company on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium, and just as they did last night, they’ll be facing another impressive offense.

Finally, there was this gem from Victor Cruz, who commented about Laurent Robinson mocking his salsa dance after bringing the Cowboys to within one score:

"Yeah, I saw him. I saw him after the game, too. I told him if he wants to do my dance, he's got to be a little more fluid. He's got to take some classes, some courses. I told him it's cool with me."

For now, let's bask in the glory of this win, because it was a big one, in one of the biggest regular season games in Giants' history. The Giants are alive in January, and that's a great way to start 2012. Happy New Year everyone.....