Cowboys vs. Giants: 5 Things We Learned from New York's 31-14 Win
Thanks to the Cowboys losing some games they had no business losing, the Giants were able to win the division with a 9-7 record.
More importantly, however, is the fact that they are apparently peaking at the perfect time. They will host the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday at 1 p.m.
Here are five things we learned after the outcome of this game.
Eli Manning Still Belongs in the MVP Conversation
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Eli had one of his best games of the year, going 24-of-33 for 346 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
The bottom line is, in any other year, Eli would easily be in the conversation for MVP. However, this year saw many quarterbacks go off and there are several you can point to who deserve the award.
I'm not saying he should win—my money is on Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers—but for the amount of comeback wins and great performances despite no running game or defense, Eli definitely deserves some recognition.
Maybe the Bad Stretch Had More to Do with the Opponents Than We Thought
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During the stretch when the Giants played terribly and lost five of six games, everyone was pouring it on—including me.
The defense looked like it was playing with no heart, passion or energy and were having embarrassing games.
Even the offense, which had been great all year, fell flat against the Eagles and Redskins. But maybe we aren't giving enough credit to their opponents.
They lost to the 49ers, Eagles, Saints, Packers and Redskins in that stretch. The 49ers, Packers and Saints are a combined 41-7, the Eagles started getting hot and playing good defense when they met the Giants and the Redskins were clearly just a bad matchup for the Giants this year.
I will grant you the Giants played poorly during that stretch, but maybe much of that had to do with their opponents.
Perry Fewell Has Made Some Solid Adjustments
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I cannot give you any specifics or technical jargon, but what I've seen the past two weeks is defensive coordinator Perry Fewell simplifying the defense, especially the coverages.
The Giants are playing much better coverage than I've seen in the past, which is leading to more pressure on the quarterback.
Also, Fewell is running more stunts and disguising pressure, which is having a vice versa effect and not making the DBs cover so long as the front seven are getting to the quarterback.
In the past two games, he has really helped out the defense and it is showing. Hopefully it continues in to the playoffs.
Giants Feel Like They Can Win at Home Again
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On ESPN's SportScenter broadcast Sunday night, while interviewing with ESPN's Rachel Nichols, Justin Tuck made a comment about how awesome and electric the crowd was against the Cowboys.
I noticed that too. That tends to happen when you dominate a hated division rival.
However, I feel like the performance can carry the Giants through at least their first playoff game at home against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Giants, for some odd reason, do not play as well at home as they do on the road. However, with two December/January victories in a row at MetLife Stadium, maybe they have overcome those woes.
If anything, it gives them confidence moving forward. I wouldn't want to play the Giants at home right now.
If the Giants Play Like They Did Against the Cowboys, They Can Beat Anybody
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Sunday night's win over the Cowboys was easily one of the best games they played in 2011 in terms of all around dominance.
The defense consistently got pressure (besides maybe the third quarter), the coverages were disguised well, they rarely gave up big plays and they slowed down the running game.
The offense moved the ball at will, won the field position battle, mixed the run and passing game together and hit big plays when the opportunities presented themselves.
Yes, they did have a couple bounces go their way in the first half, but they capitalized on those opportunities.
Obviously the Cowboys are not on the same level as most of the teams that made the playoffs, but if the Giants can repeat that performance, I see no reason why they cannot hang with the best teams in the NFC.
The postseason is a fresh start, here is to hoping the Giants see it that way.