NFC East: 2012 Week 7 Rapid Reaction
October, 21, 2012
By Calvin Watkins | ESPN.com
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Dallas Cowboys ended their two-game losing streak, hanging on Sunday afternoon for an ugly 19-14 victory over the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.
As Carolina tried to salvage the game with a last-second drive, quarterback Cam Newton fired a fourth-down pass to Louis Murphy. Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne hit Murphy before the ball arrived, but the referees didn't penalize him for pass interference. The crowd of 70,000 voiced its displeasure, but the Cowboys left with a much-needed victory.
What it means: The Cowboys ended a two-game losing streak and saved their season by moving to 3-3. But the win comes at a cost. Inside linebacker Sean Lee and center Phil Costa left the game with injuries. Costa might miss significant time with a right leg injury, and Lee didn't return because of a right big toe injury.
Does Jason Garrett trust the team? It's a call Garrett will be questioned about after the game. Faced with a third-and-9 at the Carolina 15 in the fourth quarter, Garrett came out of a timeout and called for a running play to Phillip Tanner, resulting in a 5-yard gain. Garrett settled for a field goal, made good from 28 yards by Dan Bailey that gave Dallas a 16-14 lead. It was interesting that Garrett didn't try to push the ball toward the end zone. On the second-down play, quarterback Tony Romo fired a pass to wide receiver Dez Bryant that was dropped in the end zone. Bryant complained to referees about holding, and there was some, but it was his fifth dropped pass of the season.
The loss of Costa: As the Panthers were returning a Miles Austin fumble, Costa suffered a nasty right ankle injury. Costa was on the ground for several moments and needed a cart to be taken off the field. Several players, including Jay Ratliff, Felix Jones and Orlando Scandrick offered support. Garrett came out and slapped Costa in the chest and shook his hand. Costa's season has been up and down due to injury. He lasted just three plays before reinjuring his back in the season opener, but he returned after missing three games. With this latest injury, it seems Costa will be out for a significant period of time. Ryan Cook took over for Costa. If Costa is out for the season, the Cowboys might sign another center/guard.
Injuries: The Cowboys lost Costa, and Lee left the game with a right big toe injury. Bryant also missed a few snaps after getting shaken up.
What's next? The Cowboys will host the New York Giants next week. The Giants are 3-0 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
October, 21, 2012
By Dan Graziano | ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' breathtaking victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
What it means: Robert Griffin III and the Redskins are a tough team to beat, but Eli Manning and the Giants are still the defending Super Bowl champs. And in one of the all-time acts of one-upmanship, Manning ripped a victory away from Griffin in the final minutes. After Griffin put the Redskins on top with a touchdown pass to Santana Moss with 1:30 left in the game, Manning hit Victor Cruz for a 77-yard touchdown pass with 1:13 to go. The Redskins got the ball back, but a fumble by Moss cut short their final comeback attempt, and the 5-2 Giants seized control of the NFC East.
Burgundy kryptonite: Manning always struggles against the Redskins, and Sunday's first 58 minutes were no exception. He struggled all day to get on the same page with Cruz, missing him in the end zone once, and threw two interceptions before redeeming himself with the final bomb to Cruz that won the game. In three games over the past two seasons against the Redskins, Manning has six interceptions and now just the one touchdown. But what a touchdown it was.
The new kid: It wasn't an incredibly easy day for Griffin, either, as the Giants were able to pressure him with defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck. Griffin was sacked three times, fumbled twice and threw an interception. Of course, he also rushed for 89 yards and eluded Pierre-Paul on a key fourth-down conversion with two minutes left in the game, then ran for 24 yards on a scramble to help set up his 30-yard go-ahead touchdown to Moss.
Redskins running: In what everyone universally recognizes as a passing league, the Redskins continue to insist on running the ball, and they did it with great success against the Giants on Sunday. It was their 13th game in a row with at least 100 yards rushing. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the second-longest such streak in the league coming into this week was two games in a row by the Giants and the Rams.
Injuries: The biggest was to Washington tight end Fred Davis, who left the game in the first quarter with, according to reports, the Redskins fear is a torn left Achilles' tendon. That would end Davis' season and rob the Washington passing attack of another important downfield weapon. Redskins linebacker London Fletcher left the game with a right hamstring injury. Fletcher has played in 231 consecutive games.
What's next: The Redskins will travel to Pittsburgh, where they will play the Steelers in a 1 p.m. ET game next Sunday. The Giants head to Dallas for an important 4:25 p.m. ET divisional showdown against the Cowboys.