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For the first 21 minutes of Monday night's game, Giants fans had to feel like they'd stumbled into a Folgers commercial.
"What these fans don't know is that we've replaced their usual football team with the craptacular one that lost two of their first three games."
Eli Manning threw a couple of interceptions on poor throws that bounced off the hands of his wide receivers. Brandon Jacobs fumbled a ball away after minimal contact. Matt Dodge outkicked his coverage and Dez Bryant took the punt back for a 93-yard touchdown. It was 20-7 Cowboys and it looked like there was going to be a sea change in the NFC East.
Looks can be deceiving because it turns out that everyone was drinking their regular cup of coffee after all. And, as everyone knows by now, the brew enjoyed by Giants afficianados is made from ground-up remains of quarterbacks left battered and bruised after facing the Giants defense. Chalk up one more victim in Monday night's 41-35 victory.
Tony Romo was thrown into the grinder on Monday night when Michael Boley blasted through on a blitz and crushed the quarterback with a hit that broke his clavicle. It actually happened before the Bryant punt return, but the real impact wasn't felt until the Cowboys actually got the ball back. Jon Kitna, who last played during the Taft Administration, took over and the Cowboys immediately went into the toilet.
While it is understandable that such an injury takes the wind out of your sails, it is mind-boggling how little fight there was from a team that needed to win this game to have any chance of making something worthwhile out of their season after a 1-4 start. The offense stopped even trying to move forward until the game was well out of hand.
Perhaps we're being too harsh on the Cowboys because it is becoming more and more apparent that there's not much hope to come from challenging the Giants defense. They've now sent five quarterbacks to the training room before the end of games and are playing with an aggressiveness that's as terrifying to face as it is exhilirating to watch. They are squeezing every last bit of hope out of every opponent and they keep coming in waves like they are the alien villains in some video game.
That doesn't explain why the Cowboys defense just quit, however.
Manning, who looked so vulnerable in the early going, had eons to throw passes to receivers that were being guarded by invisible and intangible defensive backs. Those receivers then turned short gains into big rips by running through indifferent tacklers and it didn't even matter that the Giants turned the ball over five times. You'd like to hammer Kevin Gilbride and Tom Coughlin for continuing to call passing plays well into the second half of a game, because it offered the Cowboys a chance back into a game that they had given up on, but you almost can't blame them for trying to get away with something when it came that easy.
It's worth pointing out, though, that the incredibly high turnover rate and the incredibly stupid offensive game plans continue to be a problem while the Giants extend their winning streak. It hasn't bit them in the rear in the last four weeks, but you can only play with fire for so long before you get burned. This game was 38-20 Giants after the third quarter and they might have been in even worse shape if Wade Phillips, the soon-to-be unemployed coach of the Cowboys, had kicked a field goal in the fourth quarter instead of dimwittedly trying to score a touchdown when he needed sure points.
It's not a night for negativity, however, so we'll close by throwing some accolades in the direction of Perry Fewell. His defense is clicking on all cylinders and it's the biggest reason why you have to put the Giants at the top of the pack in the NFC right now. That might seem like faint praise due to the state of the NFC, but it won't if the Giants can keep performing like this when they return from the bye in two weeks.