|The Ultimate World Cup of Hockey Preview||LeBron James: A Performance for the Ages||RIP Muhammad Ali: The GOAT||Steph and the Warriors came out to play|
With 5:40 left in the fourth quarter, the Giants just allowed Dez Bryant to run free, no one within 20 yards of him, to put the Cowboys up by twelve. The Giants, on the cusp of losing their fifth straight, then pulled off one of the greatest season-saving comebacks in Eli Manning’s tenor with the Giants. How exactly did they pull it off?
Eli drives the Giants 80-yards in 2:27, finding his fourth quarter security blanket Cruz three times and capping the drive off with an 8-yard touchdown to Ballard. The Cowboys get the ball back and have a third-and-5 with 2:25 left. The Giants have one timeout remaining. Do you throw and try to get the first down and basically clinch the victory? Or do you run, make the Giants call their timeout and lean on your defense to get a stop? Jason Garrett chose the former, Romo saw the Giants were sending an all-out blitz, and he saw he had Miles Austin in the slot one-on-one with Aaron Ross. Ross tried to get a jam on Austin, but Austin shed the jam and got off the line about as cleanly as you can. Austin broke free, a simple pitch and catch with no safety help, and all you need is a completion and the Cowboys basically have the NFC East wrapped up, right? Nope. Romo overthrows Austin. Another Romo moment.
With 2:12 remaining, the Giants had ball on their own 42: Ballard for 21, offside on DeMarcus Ware, and Cruz for 8. The Giants have the ball at the Cowboys 24, with 1:33 remaining, Eli throws a perfect strike to Manningham into the end zone, in stride, in front of the corner and just before the safety can get there, but Manningham drops it. A big drop like that would rattle most quarterbacks, but not Eli. The Giants would eventually score on a Jacobs touchdown with 46 seconds left and covert the 2-pt conversion to go up 3.
The drama is far from over. The Cowboys proceed to drive the ball 51 yards in 38 seconds, and set up Dan Bailey for a 47-yard game-tying field goal. The kick appears to be good, but wait, someone called timeout. At least this time, Bailey knew it couldn’t have been his own coach, seeing how the Cowboys were out of timeouts. It was Tom Coughlin who called the timeout. So, they line up for the re-kick: good snap, good hold, Bailey hits it cleanly, but it’s blocked by who else but Jason Pierre-Paul. The Cowboys have just collapsed/the Giants have just pulled off one of the greatest comebacks, and they both sit atop the NFC East standings at 7-6.
This was JPP’s coming out party. Six tackles, two sacks, a safety, a forced fumble, and the game-winning field goal block on national television. For people who don’t watch the Giants play regularly and don’t know much about JPP, after watching Sunday night, it would be impossible not to come away with the impression that his is the Giants best defensive player. Earlier in the season, he was getting beat a lot on runs outside because he had a tendency to leave his gap and gamble, he lacked gap discipline. Watch Sunday night, anytime Felix Jones wanted to cutback left, he met big #90. On the final Cowboys drive, Jones caught a swing pass and was one-on-one with JPP in space and JPP emphatically wrestled Jones to the ground. These were the types of plays that he wasn’t making earlier in the year. There’s no denying, we are watching the growth and maturation of potentially one of the game’s premier defensive ends.
I hate to go back to when Eli Manning put his name among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks, but I must. If Eli wasn’t in that category (which I believe he belonged in), he surely is not. He may not put up the numbers of an Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, or Drew Brees, but his numbers aren’t too shabby either. In thirteen games, he’s already exceeded his career high in passing yards and he’s on pace to throw for over 5,000 yards. Add those numbers to his fourth quarter heroics and what else defines an elite quarterback? Oh right, a Super Bowl ring. He has one of those as well.
New Year’s Day at MetLife Stadium the Giants face off against the Cowboys for what appears to be the division title. Of course a lot can happen between now and then but this encounter was so thrilling and enjoyable, why not do it again? It’s simple for the Giants, beat either Washington or the Jets, and beat the Cowboys and they’re in the playoffs.