Final Word: NFC East

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
1:30
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 11:

Cowboys going conservative? According to ESPN Stats & Information, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is throwing downfield with much less frequency over his past four games. In the Cowboys' first five games of the season, Romo averaged 6.6 passes of 15 or more yards downfield per game and had a completion percentage of 48.5 with three touchdowns and two interceptions on those throws. But in the past four games, he's averaging only 4.5 such attempts per game and completing 61.1 percent of them with five touchdowns and just one interception. So while he's still taking his shots downfield, Romo seems to be doing so more judiciously and with greater effectiveness.

[+] EnlargeDeMarco Murray
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireDallas running back DeMarco Murray has 601 rushing yards over the past four games.
Run game a team effort: A big part of the reason Romo hasn't had to go downfield as much is the emergence of rookie running back DeMarco Murray, who has 601 rushing yards over the past four games. But it looks as though improvements on the offensive line have had more than a little bit to do with Murray's success. Stats & Info says Murray's 3.3 yards per carry after contact on runs between the tackles is the best such average in the NFL this season, and his 4.0 yards per carry before contact on runs between the tackles is also the best. So he's hard to bring down, sure, but they're also opening up nice holes for him.

Bag the blitz: The Cowboys ought to be able to pressure Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman into mistakes out of their base 3-4 defense. Of Grossman's 11 interceptions this season, nine have come in situations when the opposing defense sends four or fewer rushers. The Cowboys have nine interceptions as a team this season when rushing four or fewer, which is the fourth-best figure in the NFL. With DeMarcus Ware coming off the edge, they don't need much help getting to the quarterback. And it appears Grossman is the kind of quarterback who will force a throw and make a mistake even when faced with minimal pressure.

Home away from home: Counting playoff games, the Philadelphia Eagles have won four straight road games against the New York Giants. That's their longest road winning streak against the Giants since they rattled off eight in a row from 1974 to 1981. Eagles fans and Giants fans alike will remember the last time these teams met in the Meadowlands as the game in which the Giants blew that huge second-half lead and DeSean Jackson ran a punt back with no time left on the clock, delivering a victory that propelled the Eagles to the division title and helped dash the Giants' playoff hopes. This season, though, it's the Eagles who blow the fourth-quarter leads (in five of their six losses), and Jackson has been a non-factor in the return game as well as the passing game.

Two-minute Manning: Giants quarterback Eli Manning has four touchdown passes so far this season in the final two minutes of either the first or second half of a game. ESPN Stats & Information says that's tied with New England's Tom Brady for the most such touchdown passes in this league this season, and that since the start of 2008, no quarterback in the league has more touchdown passes in the final two minutes of halves than Manning, who has 20. That puts him ahead of his big brother, Peyton Manning, who has 19 -- two ahead of the Saints' Drew Brees and four ahead of Romo and the Bears' Jay Cutler. Interesting list.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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NFC EAST SCOREBOARD

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