Giants join the crowd
NFC East tightens with Dallas defeat
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Ever since he was a child, Brandon Jacobs has felt one emotion toward the Dallas Cowboys: hatred.
So when the New York Giants running back sparked a 31-24 victory over Dallas yesterday that scrambled the NFC East standings, he couldn’t have been more thrilled.
“It’s the biggest play of my career,’’ Jacobs said of taking a short pass from Eli Manning and going 74 yards for a touchdown that put the Giants in front to stay. “It’s extra special against Dallas. That’s absolutely a team I can’t stand. I’ve been hating Dallas ever since I knew anything about football.’’
Jacobs’s touchdown was the Giants’ longest play of the season - for about 14 minutes. Then Domenik Hixon broke a 79-yard punt return, and suddenly the division is totally up for grabs. Dallas (8-4) and Philadelphia are tied for the lead, with New York (7-5) one game back. The Giants host the Eagles next week and have swept the Cowboys for the first time in five years.
Hixon clinched it by surpassing Jacobs’s effort with a scintillating runback in which he ran into a pile, got free, cut right, and went down the sideline behind a stream of solid blocks.
“It’s a credit to the 10 guys up front,’’ Hixon said. “They knew we were close, and today we finally broke it.
“Every time I get on the field, I have the mind-set of taking it all the way.’’
Jacobs doesn’t. He’s a bruising, power runner. But he showed his versatility when he broke down the sideline and outran the pursuit.
“I was looking to get 15 to 20 yards,’’ he admitted. “I had no idea I would go the distance.’’
New York won despite huge stats for Dallas tight end Jason Witten, wide receivers Roy Williams and Miles Austin, and quarterback Tony Romo, who’s 5-9 in December games. Witten included his 500th career catch among a career-best 14 receptions for 156 yards. Romo went 41 of 55 for 392 yards, a career high, and three TDs, two to Williams. Austin had 10 catches for 104 yards and one touchdown.
But the Cowboys had yet another December defeat.
“We’ve got to challenge ourselves and find a way to play,’’ Witten said. “We have to get back to it and forget all this December stuff. I’m not trying to avoid it or say it’s not true. We’ve got to put it away. You let another one slip and you’re really in trouble.’’
Which is where Dallas was almost immediately after Williams’s second TD reception, a 5-yarder off superb play-action by Romo, gave the Cowboys a 17-14 edge. New York answered with Jacobs and, following Nick Folk’s miss of a 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, Lawrence Tynes’s 23-yard kick for a 24-17 lead.
And then Hixon finished off the Cowboys - even though Dallas had the ball for nearly 39 minutes. The Giants’ ability to grab big chunks of yards and quick points was decisive.
“We gave up big plays we don’t normally give up,’’ coach Wade Phillips said. “They didn’t complete that many passes, but the ones they did were big plays for them.’’