Talkin' Boys-Giants and Baseball?

Before Sunday's NFC East showdown at Giants Stadium, New York fancyboy columnist Mike Lupica wrote, "For this one Sunday, Giants against the Cowboys, first place on the line, it feels like a Yankee-Red Sox game. ...''

And how does it feel AFTER the Cowboys' 17-10 loss to the Giants?

Like Yankees-vs.-Devil Rays.

No, like Yankees-vs.-Toledo MudHens.

No, like Yankees-vs.-Chico's Bail Bonds.

Alright, I'm being a little tough on our 'Boys. After all, it was 0-0 until almost midway through the second quarter. (That looked really basebally.) And the NFC East race ain't over 'til it's over. (Writing that felt basebally, too.) And by scoring just one touchdown, by passing for just 17 yards in a first half, by having the bulk of the Dallas roster outplayed by the opponent's PUNTER. ... well, it certainly felt like something other than championship football.

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells concedes now that the 8-4 Giants "have a good advantage'' over the 7-5 Cowboys, who have lost two straight and really haven't played well and won in four outings. "But,'' Parcells added, "I told the team before the game, the first team to 11 will win it.''

I swear on Ted Williams' amputated head, when he said that I didn't know if he meant "first team to 11 WINS'' or "first team to 11 POINTS.''

QB Drew Bledsoe needs to be the offensive axle from here on out, and once again, it didn't happen. Bledsoe's four-game numbers to start the second half of the season include 73-of-130 passing for a not-good-enough 56 percent, a paltry 153 yards per game, and a 4-to-5 interceptions-to-TDs ratio. That includes, of course, his 4-of-13-for-17-yards first half, and his 15-of-39-for-146-yards full game. Factor in as you will his two interceptions. Factor in also his involvement in two other turnovers. Rip up the offensive tackles, who were overmatched throughout, a running game featuring a vastly different Julius Jones than the one we fell in love with a year ago, and a receiving corps that struggled to get open, and what have you got?

A team overly reliant on its defense to play impeccable football. ... which it almost did. The Cowboys defense alone, though, isn't enough to win 11 games. To do that, Dallas must assemble a four-game winning streak -- difficult to do in this Slot Machine League. How about three out of four for a 10-win season, and a wild-card? Fine, as long as two of the three similarly-credentialed contenders (Tampa Bay at 8-4, Minnesota at 7-5 and Atlanta at 7-5) are willing to step aside for the Cowboys.

Yes, the big-game opportunities remain. But not quite like this one that got away.

Before the game, Giants coach Tom Coughlin expressed his excitement about the magnitude of this thing. "Think about it," he said. "We're trying to beat a long-time rival, in December, who has the same record as we do. Both teams are fighting for first place. We're doing it in front of our own fans. I mean it when I say this is a great, great happening."

Yeah, it was kind of like a baseball game in New York. Like, say, Yankees-vs.-Joe's Bar & Grill Co-Ed Softball Team.

Complete with plenty of runs and hits and most of all, errors.

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