Nothing to lose, everything to gain
As they walked off the field Sunday night, the New York Giants had defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs dropping their chins and hanging their heads. It wasn't that they were ashamed or disappointed. It was they did not have enough strength left in their bodies to hold up their helmets anymore.
"I'm tired as hell," linebacker
The Giants' defense spent 36 minutes and 30 seconds on the field at Texas Stadium on Sunday. They were ravaged by a 20-play drive. They were exhausted by a 14-play drive. But somehow, the more breathless they became, the more inspired they played. They found a second wind, then a third, then a fourth. And with 16 seconds left, and half of them bent over at the waist, they forced the interception that provided relief.
This game was defined by the Giants' tireless defense, which allowed only three points in the second half; quarterback
More specifically, it was about Cabo. No one suggested that Romo's Mexican getaway with
As Owens spoke, he cried behind his sunglasses and sniffled into the microphone. It was his
That, of course, might come as a surprise to
Owens made more of an impact after the game than during it. Recovered from a high-ankle sprain, he caught only four passes for 49 yards and Romo did not look for him in the final seconds. Asked about his decision-making -- Cabo included -- Romo said: "I don't live with regrets. I'm content in my own skin."
For the second year in a row, the Cowboys' season ended in tears. Last January, Romo bobbled the snap on a potential game-winning field goal attempt in Seattle and cried afterward. This January, Romo threw the interception to McQuarters, and Owens cried afterward. The Giants expressed no sympathy. "We've got butter for their popcorn," Pierce said.
Dallas will not feel like eating for a while. The Cowboys won 13 games this season, beat the Giants twice and captured the No. 1 seed in the NFC this season. Looking at the numbers, they were a lock. But looking at the tape, they were vulnerable. Dallas had not played up to its potential in about a month, stumbling toward the playoffs.
For the most part, this playoff weekend was a clinic in offensive efficiency. The Packers, Patriots and Chargers all won basically because they refused to punt the ball. Through the first half, the Giants-Cowboys game was more of the same. But midway through the third quarter, the Giants recognized that defense can still win in this league.
The Giants pressured Romo into an interception, an intentional grounding call and some errant passes. At one point in the fourth quarter, Romo was screaming at his offensive line. Manning, on the other hand, was mellow. He threw only 18 passes -- half as many as Romo -- completing 12 of them. He had two touchdowns and no interceptions.
While Dallas got away from running back
It is hard to believe that anybody, even in the Manning family, would have predicted this outcome: Peyton is going home and Eli is moving on. Under Eli's direction, the Giants have won 10 of 11 road games, prompting hope they can beat Green Bay at Lambeau Field next Sunday and become a surprise entry in the Super Bowl.
The Giants will spend the week preparing for
"We'll be an underdog, and we'll be the worst team in NFC Championship Game history," guard