Showdown merely a showcase for Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Halfway through the season, it's safe to say the Super Bowl champion New York Giants are the team to beat in the NFC, and the injury ravaged Dallas Cowboys - the preseason favorite - will need to make a run after their bye just to make the postseason.
Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes, Brandon Jacobs rushed for 117 yards and a score, and the Giants' defense took advantage of the continued absence of the injured Tony Romo to intercept three passes in a 35-14 victory yesterday.
"When a football team comes in here and it is kind of depleted as far as injuries go, you don't want to give them any sunlight," said Giants defensive end Justin Tuck. "You don't want to give them any light whatsoever."
In winning their fifth straight at home, the Giants (7-1) were in control from the start as they extended their lead over the defending NFC East champion Cowboys (5-4) in the division.
The loss was the third in four games for Dallas, which fell into last place in the division behind Washington (6-2) and Philadelphia (5-3), not something anyone expected from the team many considered the favorite to win the NFC.
"We still have seven games left and we need to go on a run," Cowboys linebacker Bradie James said.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones smiled when asked if the goal was to simply make the playoffs.
"If you give me the playoffs and not worry about the division, I'll take it," Jones said, adding the return of Romo after the bye will only fix one of the many things wrong with his team.
There was plenty wrong yesterday. Despite getting three turnovers and a score from his defense, the Cowboys were still blown out.
Manning threw touchdown passes of 13 yards to Kevin Boss, 5 to Steve Smith, and 11 to Amani Toomer, with the scores by Smith and Toomer being set up by Corey Webster's interceptions of Brad Johnson, Romo's replacement. Johnson was pulled after halftime.
Jacobs scored on a 12-yard run two plays after James Butler picked off Brooks Bollinger's first pass in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Derrick Ward added a 17-yard TD run to ice the game in the fourth quarter.