Manning, Cruz power Giants to postseason

January, 2, 2012
1/02/12
2:02
AM ET

Al Bello/Getty ImagesVictor Cruz and the Giants are headed to the postseason with Sunday’s win against the Cowboys.
With their second win against the Dallas Cowboys in four weeks, the New York Giants claimed their first NFC East title since 2008, punching their ticket to the NFL postseason.

Eli Manning threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns, including his 15th fourth-quarter touchdown pass of the season (an NFL record).

Victor Cruz recorded his seventh 100-yard receiving game of the season (a new Giants record) with 178 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.

Cruz's 74-yard touchdown reception included 69 yards after the catch. Cruz had three catches this season where he gained at least 60 yards after the catch, tied for most in the league.

The Giants have now won six of their last eight regular season games against Dallas and swept the regular season series from the Cowboys for the fourth time in the last 10 seasons.

The Giants will host an NFC Wild Card round game against the Falcons next Sunday.

Tony Romo threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw a key interception in the fourth quarter, finishing with a Total QBR of 11.0.

The Cowboys finished the 2011 season with losses in four of their final five games and missed the playoffs for the third time in the last four campaigns.

Dallas is on the outside looking in, in part because of a strong effort from Manning.

Manning was particularly successful on third down, completing eight of nine passes for 192 yards. Three of his third-down completions went to Victor Cruz for 123 yards, including the aforementioned touchdown in the first quarter and a drive-extending 44-yard pass in the fourth quarter.

Coming into this week, Manning had completed only 55.2 percent of his passes on third down, ranking 18th among qualified quarterbacks.

Manning used a quick passing game to avoid pressure from the Cowboys’ pass rush, as 57 percent of his passes traveled just five yards or fewer downfield.

In fact, all three of Manning's touchdown passes Sunday traveled five or fewer yards in the air, his single-game high the last four seasons. In Week 14 against the Cowboys, Manning only completed 53 percent of his passes on throws of that distance.

On the other side of the ball, the Giants sacked Tony Romo six times Sunday, including four with just a four-man pass rush. The Giants were second-best in the NFL this season at generating pressure in four-man rushes.

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