Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 20, Giants 8

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys put a week of strife at Valley Ranch behind them and did what they had to do in a 20-8 victory over the New York Giants. A year after the Giants stunned them with a 21-17 victory in the divisional playoff round, the Cowboys gained a measure of revenge Sunday night.

They used a swarming defense to keep Giants quarterback Eli Manning and the offense off balance for most of the game. The Cowboys sacked Manning eight times while completely overwhelming the Giants' offensive line. Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware made left tackle David Diehl look silly in the first half, and then veteran Greg Ellis toyed with someone named Kevin Boothe in the second half.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has faced a lot of criticism for his performances in December, but he turned in a heroic effort Sunday. He winced in pain after his back was twisted while being sacked in the first half. But he never missed a play.

Even after he was sacked for a safety midway through the fourth quarter, he kept getting up. Fortunately for Romo, rookie running back Tashard Choice had another strong effort. Choice and Marion Barber helped seal the win in the fourth quarter.

The Giants did a nice job of limiting tight end Jason Witten, T.O. and Roy Williams, but they seemed surprised by Choice's speed in the open field. The Cowboys (9-5) are now lumped into a three-way tie for the final wild-card playoff spot with Atlanta and Tampa Bay.

Choice sealed the game with a 38-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. With the loss, the Giants (11-3) look vulnerable. They have back-to-back losses to NFC East foes and they still haven't clinched home-field advantage for the playoffs.

If the Cowboys get another crack against the Giants in the playoffs, they'd be brimming with confidence.