Eli Manning and December Syndrome in Dallas (Giants vs Cowboys)

Here we go again. The Dallas Cowboys found a way to lose a game they had in the bag, deep into the fourth quarter. Tony Romo’s December problems come back to haunt him and his team. Eli Manning brings it in the fourth to lead a fantastic comeback, and Jason Pierre-Paul gave that extra something to seal the win.

With just under six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, with the Dallas Cowboys leading 34-22, this was in the bag. The Giants on their way to a fifth straight loss. The Dallas Cowboys? To an almost untouchable 8-5 record and close to clinching the NFC East. Then the world got turned upside down.

Eli Manning threw his second touchdown of the game, finding Jake Ballard after an 8 play, 80 yard drive that put the Giants within 5. Dallas blew away three downs in amazing quickness. Felix Jones ran for 5, then got stopped on a no gain. Tony Romo, as he usually does in these situations, threw an incomplete pass.

It was again Jake Ballard, not with a touchdown catch, but an 18 yard reception that brought the Giants to the Cowboys’ end zone. From there, Brandon Jacobs, struggling this season, found it hard not to score.

Over? Not likely. Tony Romo completed three passes in 40 seconds to move the Dallas Cowboys 51 yards. Like against Arizona a week earlier, Dan Bailey had a chance for a late field goal. This time to tie the game, not win it. He blew it, or rather the guys blocking for him blew it.

The Giants breathed new life into their playoff hopes and even better – ruined it for the Dallas Cowboys. The two meet on the last day of the season in a game that will very likely decide who’ll get into the postseason. It’ll also decide a job or two I believe.

Eli Manning’s 400 yards shouldn’t impress you very much. Yes, his 4105 passing yards this season are a new record for a Giants quarterback. He wasn’t all that great. Tony Romo was better, finding Dez Bryant and Miles Austin in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Actually, he just messed up once, and that one time is always the most important play. He threw four touchdown passes on the day for 321 yards, finishing with a 141.3 QB rating. It’s hard to blame it on him. But that will, as usual, be directed at him, and Jason Garrett.

The most amazing stat regarding the Dallas Cowboys’ famous November imploding job? In the last seven seasons, the Cowboys entered December with at least 7 wins six times. They came out finishing with 10 wins only twice. They need to win all three games left – At Tampa, home to the Eagles and away against the Giants, to finish 10-6. You never know with the Cowboys, who sometimes explode with all that talent. Usually, the also finds way to mess it up, despite the incredible difficulty of it.

And it’s not like the Cowboys, despite what Garrett said, treated this as just another game, just like the other 15 – We knew what was on the line. But those guys made one more play than we did. (Bradie James, Cowboys Linebacker)

Last time the Giants visited Big D, they took out Tony Romo for the season, well over a year ago. This time, it was running back sensation DeMarco Murray, managing 5 carries before taken out, probably for the season. Felix Jones carried the load well, running for 106 yards, but he doesn’t seem to have the impact Murray does on defensive schemes.

For the Giants, despite the big win, it’s obvious that clinching and winning the NFC East won’t be easy. Guys stepped up and made some big plays. It won’t mean anything unless we finish the season strong. That’s the mindset. We can’t relax now or feel great about ourselves. (Eli Manning)

Tony Romo wasn’t as curt as his owner, Jerry Jones, who made an unusually brief post-game appearance. But he didn’t say something nobody knew – It will be tough for the next few hours. This was a tough loss. It was an important game and guys laid it on the line. We have to regroup. This one’s going to hurt, it’s going to sting, but we’ve got to figure out how to do things a little better and play our best game of the season next week. We need to get a win next week and get back going.

Missing opportunities and bad time managing cost the Cowboys the division. They could have been with six consecutive wins now. Instead they lost consecutive games for the second time this season, all of those losses by six points or less. For the Giants, who have Washington, the Jets and home finisher against Dallas left on their schedule, it could be start of a wonderful end to a up and down season.

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