Eli Manning was terrific in the biggest game of the season, throwing for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Victor Cruz continued to be a deadly playmaker, with six catches for 178 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown in the first quarter and a 44-yard catch in the fourth, when the Giants desperately needed a first down to kill Dallas' momentum. Hakeem Nicks had five catches for 76 yards and a TD. Manning completed passes to nine receivers, and the line gave him time when he needed it most.
Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 57 yards and one touchdown, and the Giants gained a total of 106 yards on the ground. But 78 of the yards came in the first half. The sledding got a lot tougher in the second half, but the offensive line did provide Bradshaw with some big holes -- like the one he used on a 29-yard run. Brandon Jacobs only had 16 yards rushing on seven carries, fumbled and was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 at the Dallas 35 late in the third quarter.
Tony Romo and Laurent Robinson connected for two touchdowns in the second half to cut the Giants' lead to 21-14. But the Giants defense shut down Dallas in the final 5:45, forcing a three-and-out, then sacking Romo and forcing a fumble to seal the game. Osi Umenyiora had two of the Giants' six sacks in his return. Antrel Rolle had an interception. Miles Austin was held to just two catches for 20 yards. Most important, the secondary didn't have any significant breakdowns like last time against Dallas.
The Giants defense had its best run-stopping performance of the season, giving up a season-low 49 yards rushing. Dallas only ran the ball 16 times, but Felix Jones had nowhere to go -- gaining 30 yards on 11 carries. Tony Romo only ran twice for 3 yards. In their previous meeting in Dallas, Jones rushed for 106 yards on 16 carries. Michael Boley also jumped over the Cowboys' offensive line to stop a Romo sneak on a fourth-and-1 early in the fourth quarter.
The Giants' coverage was terrific again, limiting Dez Bryant to 13 yards on his two punt returns. But Will Blackmon fumbled on a punt return that the Giants were fortunate enough to recover. Lawrence Tynes missed a 40-yarder, but he did make a huge 28-yard field goal to extend the Giants' lead to 10 with 5:45 remaining in the game. Devin Thomas was called for unnecessary roughness on a punt that gave the Cowboys a first-and-10 at the Giants' 26 before Dallas would score to cut the lead to 21-14 with 10:15 left.
For the second straight week, Tom Coughlin got his team to show up in a must-win game. The Giants played its best half of the season in taking a 21-0 lead into intermission. And when Dallas cut it to 21-14, the Giants responded and made all the plays to win the game. Coughlin ended a two-year playoff drought and any doubt about his future with the team. Perry Fewell's defense -- getting healthy at the right time -- responded for the second straight week and appears to be rounding into shape.