Sunday, January 1, 2012
Halftime thoughts: Giants mauling Cowboys
By Dan Graziano
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants could not have asked for a better first half in the NFC East title game. They have done everything they've wanted to do on offense and defense. They have come out fired up behind high-energy stars like Mathias Kiwanuka and Victor Cruz. And when they've made mistakes, the Dallas Cowboys have consistently failed to capitalize on them.
Eli Manning is 15-for-20 for 199 yards and two touchdowns in the game so far. Ahmad Bradshaw has 46 rush yards and two touchdowns -- one on the ground and one through the air. The Giants are rolling with a 21-0 lead and will get the ball back to start the second half.
The Giants have been picking on overmatched Dallas cornerback Terence Newman all night, and Newman has given them no reason to stop. Not that he's the only Cowboy who should be blamed for what's going on here tonight. Here is a list of costly Cowboys mistakes from the first half. It's not for the faint of heart:
- Tony Romo overthrowing Dez Bryant on third down on the first series of the game after Bryant had gotten past Corey Webster and could have had a long gain.
- Newman missing a tackle and allowing Bear Pascoe to hurdle him and convert a third down deep in Giants territory.
- Newman getting smoked by Cruz for a 74-yard touchdown reception.
- Alan Ball failing to corral a muffed punt that would have set the Cowboys up with good field position in Giants territory.
- Abram Elam completely missing a one-on-one tackle and allowing Bradshaw to run in for a touchdown.
- Gerald Sensabaugh failing to pick up a Brandon Jacobs fumble, which eventually bounced back into the hands of Manning.
- Romo going past the line of scrimmage before throwing the ball to Bryant for what looked like a big third-down pickup deep in Giants' territory down 14-0 late in the second quarter.
- Ball downing an excellent Chris Jones punt inside the 5-yard line after going out of bounds, leading to an illegal touching penalty and awarding the Giants the ball on the 20-yard line instead of inside the 5.
- Henry Hynoski pulling a repeat of the Pascoe hurdle job on Newman on the play just before Bradshaw's short touchdown catch pushed the lead to 21-0 with 1:09 left in the half.
It all adds up to this: One team came to play and the other team looks as though it did not. The Giants have been creative and quick and effective with their pass rush, which has deprived the Cowboys of a chance to take advantage of the Giants' secondary or even really find out if Romo's hand is OK. The Giants have kept the Cowboys off of Manning, which continues a trend. The Cowboys didn't sack Manning in the game three weeks ago in Dallas, and haven't tonight. And the Giants have blocked fairly well in the run game when they've needed to.
The game is not decided or out of reach, but a different -- and much more focused -- Dallas team needs to come out of the halftime locker room, or next week's playoff game is going to be here and not in Arlington, Texas.