Sunday, December 11, 2011
Halftime thoughs: Slugfest in Big D
By Dan Graziano
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Well, we thought there would be a lot of points in tonight's divisional showdown between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, and the first half did not disappoint. Even though it was the Giants' defense that scored the first points when Jason Pierre-Paul sacked Tony Romo in the end zone for a safety, the offenses didn't take long to get in gear, and the Cowboys hold a slim 17-15 lead with the Giants set to get the ball back to start the second half.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning is only 9-for-19, but he's made some very nice throws under pressure and has already hooked up with Hakeem Nicks fro 105 of his 146 passing yards. A couple of drops by Victor Cruz have hurt the overall numbers and cost the Giants yards. Romo is a more efficient 10-for-14, but for only 104 yards as he has so far been unable to work wideouts Miles Austin and Dez Bryant into the mix. Romo loves him some Laurent Robinson, though, especially when it's time to score a touchdown, and the Dallas run game doesn't look like it's lost much with Felix Jones subbing in for an injured DeMarco Murray at tailback. Guess all of that hype about the impact of fullback Tony Fiammetta's return was on the mark.
If one of these defenses is able to make some halftime adjustments and some second-half plays in coverage, that team could well run away with the game. But right now it seems more likely that the offenses will continue to rule the night and that many more points await before this one's over.
Some more thoughts on the first half:
- Real curious to see whether Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw plays in the second half. Word is he was benched for blowing curfew, but he's dressed and eligible to play. In his absence, Brandon Jacobs looks like a complete animal, running over people and inflicting pain on would-be tacklers the way he did early in his career.
- With the exception of the Gerald Sensabaugh pass interference penalty that led to Jacobs' touchdown, the Cowboys have to be happy about the way their red zone defense has played. They've held the Giants to field goals twice, including in the final two minutes of the half after Jones' ill-timed fumble gave them the ball at the Dallas 14-yard line. Earlier in the game, they held on after a 64-yard Manning pass to Nicks set the Giants up with first-and-goal on the four. Some credit for that stand, however, goes to questionable playcalling by the Giants, who called end zone corner fade routes on first and second downs and a weak draw play with D.J. Ware on third.
- Injuries are mounting for Dallas. Center Phil Costa is out with a concussion. Murray left with an ankle injury, and it doesn't sound as though they expect him back, which is why Jones is getting the carries. Hey, at least Jones should be fresh after sitting behind Murray all of these weeks.
- And from the irony department: Dan Bailey's 49-yard field goal with 15 second left in the half was 49 yards long -- same distance as the one he made and then missed at the end of regulation last week in Arizona.