Rapid Reaction: Giants 37, Cowboys 34

December, 11, 2011
12/11/11
11:55
PM ET

DALLAS –- In their biggest game of the season, the New York Giants completely unraveled on defense in the fourth quarter but Eli Manning came to the rescue with two touchdowns in the last three minutes to stun the Dallas Cowboys 37-34. And then Jason Pierre-Paul blocked a 47-yard field goal by Dan Bailey at the end of the game to lift the Giants to a huge win.

What it means: This was a game the Giants had to have, and Manning carried them to victory. He erased a 34-22 lead with another fourth-quarter comeback and now the Giants control their playoff fate. If they win out, they are in the playoffs. With at least two more wins, including a victory in the season finale against Dallas, the Giants will win the NFC East.

No defense: The Giants defense struggled again in the fourth quarter. On a third-and-10 at the Dallas 20, Tony Romo had all day to survey the field before finding Laurent Robinson for a 74-yard bomb on rookie Prince Amukamara. That set up a short touchdown pass to Miles Austin, which put the Cowboys up 27-22 early in the fourth.

And after Manning had a pass tipped for an interception with the Giants at the Dallas 22, the Giants defense inexplicably gave up a wide-open 50-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant as Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle let Bryant go on a miscommunication to allow Dallas to go up 34-22 with 5:41 remaining.

Eli's comeback: But Manning brought them back. He hit Jake Ballard for a touchdown with 3:14 remaining and the Giants' defense was finally able to get a stop. Manning got the ball back with just over two minutes left and he marched the Giants down the field and Brandon Jacobs scored on a short run with 46 seconds left.

Bradshaw benched: The Giants running back did not play in the first half after violating team rules. NBC reported that Bradshaw violated the team's curfew policy. Brandon Jacobs had his best game of the season, though, rushing for 62 of his yards and a touchdown in the first half. Bradshaw started the second half.

Beast mode: Jason Pierre-Paul did continue to be one of the bright spots on defense. His pressure on Romo led to a safety in the first quarter. He also stripped Felix Jones from behind for a fumble deep in Dallas territory and had a sack on Romo.

And to top it all off, Pierre-Paul blocked Bailey's field goal at the end.

Breaking bad: Last year here, the Giants knocked Romo out for the season with a broken clavicle. On Sunday night, the Giants broke rookie DeMarco Murray’s ankle in the first half. The Giants face the Cowboys again on Jan. 1.

For the Giants, TE Travis Beckum was knocked out of the game with a chest injury. They were already playing without Osi Umenyiora, C David Baas and S Kenny Phillips due to injuries.

What’s next: Another crucial division game against the Redskins. The Giants must take care of the Redskins if they want to keep their playoff and NFC East title hopes alive.
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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