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The Giants erased any lingering doubts that they were a desperate team when Bill Sheridan stood up to deliver a pregame talk to his defense. He chose a speech by King Leonidas of Sparta, who you might remember as the topless, bearded fellow from "300."
Leonidas and his men were wildly outnumbered by the Persians when they met at Thermopylae a couple of thousand years ago, but he needed to inspire them to fight hard enough and well enough to take a toll on the invaders before their inevitable deaths.
It was surely inspiring stuff because the Giants actually came out and defended their house like Spartans on Sunday.
After weeks of looking like they'd prefer becoming one of King Xerxes's slaves to actually getting in the way of the opposition, the defense sold out against the Cowboys. They completely shut down the run, likely a direct result of the bold decision to bench Fred Robbins and Osi Umenyiora during the week leading up to the game.
Mathias Kiwanuka, Umenyiora's replacement, caused a crucial fumble that changed the game just before halftime and Barry Cofield, playing on the left side with Robbins out, dominated the middle of the Cowboys line all afternoon. And, unlike Leonidas's army, they did it all without CGI enhancement although, to be fair to those warriors, there weren't any monsters on the Cowboys other than Flozell Adams.
It would be interesting to see a movie like "300" from the perspective of the Persians, but we have some idea how it might go if we put our feet into the shoes of Cowboys fans. They're less likely to be impressed by the resiliency and resolve of the Giants defense and more likely to focus on the brutal mistakes made by their own team. They gained more yardage, dominated in time of possession and won the turnover battle, but still lost because they couldn't tackle on a couple of big plays by Domenik Hixon and Brandon Jacobs. They lost because their kicker couldn't make a field goal and because Tony Romo missed Roy Williams on an almost certain touchdown after Hixon scored on a punt return.
It's easy to see the Giants as bit players in a dark comedy if you look at it that way, which should be all you need to know about the fact that all the problems with the team weren't fixed overnight. Sunday wasn't about putting Humpty Dumpty back together again, though. It was about making sure he didn't fall off the wall in the first place. The Giants succeeded in that task, which means they'll get to do it all over again against the Eagles.
It's the sequel the Spartans didn't live long enough to get. Either the Giants have a better agent or this is where their stories diverge, but we're officially off script at this point.