The Cowboys and their fans heard Giant fans and media members talk all week about how Eli Manning has won 4 straight in recently named “AT&T stadium”. Good thing AT&T stepped in or they just may have called it “Eli’s house”. But this year was different. The Cowboys went to a new 4-3 defense in the off season designed to take the ball away and that’s exactly what it did Sunday night.
Last season takeaways by the Dallas defense were as scarce as a win against the Giants at home as they only had 16 all season.
Monte Kiffin’s defense forced, and I do mean forced, 3 fumbles and 3 interceptions to win the takeaway battle 6 to 1. And they wasted no time getting to it with Ware picking off a Manning screen pass on the very first play from scrimmage. That set the tone for a very theft minded defense the rest of the night.
Safety Barry Church ripped the ball from the arm of Giants RB David Wilson who eventually found himself watching from the sideline when Coach Coughlin had seen enough. Later Church scooped up a Wilson fumble and ran it in for a TD.
Safety Will Allen picked off a high pass from Manning early in the game. Then late in the game with Eli prepared to lead the Giants to yet another familiar game winning score in the Cowboys home stadium, Brandon Carr picked off a pass that bounced off the Giants RB and took it in for a score. And with that, game over and most importantly the Eli curse was ended.
An appropriate way to end the Eli curse. With Eli making the mistake, that cost them the game. Poetic justice perhaps.
Eli Got His Numbers But not the Win: The Tampa 2 MOJO
That’s not to say this new Dallas 4-3 defense played a perfect game because they certainly did not. There were break downs in coverage that Eli made them pay for resulting in scores. Manning finished with an impressive 450 yards passing and 4 TDs which seems unlikely to end in defeat, but that’s how the mojo of the Tampa 2 defense operates. It can allow a lot of passing yards but it’s the turnovers that ultimately kill you.
How many times have Cowboy fans watched Romo post great passing numbers only to have several turnovers that resulted in a loss? It feels good to be on the other side of that outcome.
With DT Ratliff and DE Spencer still not available to play, and DT Ben Bass out with injury, the Cowboys defensive line was counting on DT Hayden and DE Selvie who were new starters. They performed outstanding in the game. Hayden had 3 tackles while also forcing a fumble and Selvie added a sack while often hurrying Manning.
An opportunistic Cowboys defense scored 12 points and Dallas led the Giants by exactly 12 late in the game ultimately winning 36-31. In the end, the defense was the difference.
This game was all about taking away the Giant Eli curse from AT&T stadium and without the Cowboys takeaways and scores from their defense, Eli would have stolen yet another win in Arlington, Texas extending the dreaded Eli curse for another year.