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Little Doomsday. Dallas Outlasts New York 16-13

Early this season, the defense played like the little boy who walks around the house in daddy's shoes. The unit looked tough, but many of its players were inexperienced, so it tripped when it tried to run. It surrendered long passes by the handful, giving up seven TD passes in the first three games. It let floundering ground attacks in San Francisco and Oakland run free. It dropped late leads and put cardiologists in the Metroplex on double duty each Sunday night.

It's not quite man-size, but Little Doomsday is growing up fast. LaRoi Glover, Greg Ellis and their gang of juveniles stepped up big in their second consecutive divisional win. This week, they held the league's top scoring offense to 13 points and were 19 seconds away from pushing their quarters-without-allowing-a-TD streak to eleven. They were the difference in an often frustrating 16-13 overtime win over the Giants.

Sure, the defense gave up 150 of New York's 270 yards in the game's final 12 minutes, when a 100 degree day wilted its pass rush. And yes, its last minute play brought back painful memories of the Washington loss in week two. But let's look at the positive side of the equation. 90 seconds into the second half, the Giants had a 4-0 edge in turnovers. The Giants had just recovered their second Drew Bledsoe fumble and were 31 yards from regaining the lead. Dallas had a 7-6 lead then, but Tom Coughlin's men were again working the script that had led them to a 3-1 record and first place -- win the turnover battle and convert your opponents miscues into points.

But the Dallas defense would even the turnover ledger before the Giants put their next points on the scoreboard. Over the remainder of the half, the defense:

  • Intercepted Eli Manning at the Dallas one, turning back the first Giants threat;

  • stripped Plaxico Burress at the Giants' 19 one possession later;

  • sacked Manning twice after he had found Jeremy Shockey behind the Cowboys' linebackers for 59 yards and a first down at the Dallas 16. Manning fumbled the ball the second time he was sacked. Greg Ellis picked it up and lumbered to the Giants' 33, setting up the Cowboys second field goal;

  • Roy Williams knocked the ball from New York's 260 lb. behemoth Brandon Jacobs at the Cowboys one with just 1:18 left in regulation. Williams recovered the ball, seemingly ending the Giants' day.
  • The defense got erratic help from the offense, who failed this time to move the ball even one yard. New York forced a short punt and when Williams played zone while the rest of his teammates were in a blitz, Jeremy Shockey broke free from him to score from 24 yards out, deferring the Cowboys' celebration.

    That spotty offense came to life in the overtime, taking the kickoff and moving 51 yards in eight plays, setting up a 45 Jose Cortez field goal for the win. The drive would prove costly, as Patrick Crayton was helped from the field after catching a ten yard pass on the drive's opening play. An MRI is scheduled for tomorrow, but Parcells hinted that Crayton broke his ankle.


  • The heat was as big an adversary as the Giants. When Ellis ran Manning's fumble back early in the fourth quarter, several linemen had to crawl several yards before they could stand up and leave the field. Both teams rotated linemen freely and it affected their execution. This game won't earn high grades from either team's staff.
  • If you haven't seen the Giants play before, this is how they win. Lose time-of- possession badly, but win the turnover battle by a wide margin. The New York secondary is nothing special, with the exception of free safety Gibril Wilson, but its line can generate pressure and induce bad throws.
  • Marion Barber finally joined the season. Two things were clear about Barber in camp. One, he was highly talented; two, he was one of those guys who learns the hard way, by making every mistake in the book at least once. Parcells was frustrated by Barber, who would regularly make two good plays, then make one silly one. The coach alternated scolding him and stroking him. The lessons finally seem to have sunken in. Barber was rock steady on blitz pickups today, ran with more elusiveness than Anthony Thomas, though neither could get going against New York's stunting front seven, and caught a long screen pass to start a long scoring drive. All was not perfect, however, as he was stopped for no gain on third-and-one from the New York 11.
  • New York had only allowed six sacks of Eli Manning in four games. Dallas got to him four times today. Greg Ellis was the most effective rusher, turning RT Kareem McKenzie inside-out several times.
  • Demarcus Ware got a sack in his fourth consecutive game. It came at a crucial time, one play after Shockey's long reception.
  • Dallas mixed fronts today. They were most effective when they brought pressure. They were least effective when they dropped eight men into coverage and only rushed three. Eli Manning showed patience and ripped the secondary in these situations.
  • Check Flozell Adams' injury status. Rob Petitti got a lot of help again, but Dallas was in real trouble when Torrin Tucker replaced Adams. Tucker was beaten twice on pass plays inside the New York 15. The pressure Adams allowed blew up two pass attempts that could have broken the game open.
  • Manning's QB rating of 68.1 was his lowest of the year, coming one game after he posted a 120 rating.
  • Shockey's TD was the first allowed since Lamont Jordan scored in the first quarter of the Raiders' game.
  • This was another "me-too" game for the o-line, as everyone except Larry Allen took turns making crucial, points-costing mistakes.
  • Today was the first time this year you could say Bledsoe was rattled by the rush. Giants' DC Tim Lewis sprung several effective blitzes on the Dallas line and often threw them and their QB off-balance. A strong inside push by Cedric Clancy prevented Bledsoe from stepping into a bomb for Glenn, which was intercepted. Bledsoe had Glenn open and apparently felt he could muscle the ball to the WR. In the overtime, with Dallas facing a third-and-thirteen at the Giants' 26, Sean Payton called a deep out to Keyshawn on the left sideline. Johnson beat his man. Bledsoe got good protection but acted as if he was about to be hit. He rushed the throw, which bounced short. A completion would have given Dallas a first down at New York's seven.
  • Willie Pile is getting more time and Keith Davis less time at free safety.
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