EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With 1:41 left and the NFC East Division title all but wrapped up, Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka raised the ball he’d just recovered in his left hand.
The Giants’ defense didn’t “pitch a shutout” like Kiwanuka wanted, but they went “all in” as a unit and came up with a bevy of big plays in a 31-14 victory over the hated Cowboys on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium. In all, Big Blue’s D sacked Dallas quarterback Tony Romo six times -- four times with a four-man rush, according to ESPN Stats & Information -- and forced two turnovers.
“We played together,” said ball-hawking safety Antrel Rolle, who stepped in front of tight end Jason Witten to intercept a Romo pass in the third quarter. “We played as a team. Everyone made sure to take care of their assignment.
“It was about winning the majority [of the battles]. And we won the majority.”
The Giants’ defense held the Cowboys scoreless in the first half, but Romo started to pick Big Blue apart in the no-huddle in the third quarter. He capped off a nine-play, 94-yard drive by finding wideout Laurent Robinson for a 34-yard touchdown after Robinson got behind corner Corey Webster with 6:54 remaining.
Dallas drove down the field again and had the ball inside the red zone early in the fourth. But on fourth-and-1 from the New York 10, the Cowboys elected to go for it, and linebacker Michael Boley and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul got penetration up front and tackled Romo for no gain.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Boley said of the sneak. “It was a situation where they were using a lot of shotgun. And then when [Romo] went under center, I knew what was coming.
“They were riding high, and for us to come up with that stop, I think it took all the wind out of their sails. ... I knew he was short. There’s no feeling like it.”
Romo and Robinson connected again from 6 yards out with 10:15 left in the fourth to make it 21-14, but that was all the offense Dallas could muster.
Big Blue’s D forced the Cowboys into a three-and-out on their next series, and Tuck’s strip-sack and Kiwanuka’s fumble recovery sealed the deal and Dallas’ final drive.
The Giants have now allowed just 28 points in their last two games -- both victories.
“It has been really great to see the way the defense has played the last couple weeks, and that has given everyone a nice boost and a nice way of confidence,” coach Tom Coughlin said.