Xs & Os: A review of the Giants by Position

Here is a breakdown of how each position faired in the game against Dallas.

QUARTERBACKS

Eli Manning was very lucky MLB Bradie James didn't pick off his poor pass to WR Amani Toomer at the Giants' 35 with 25 seconds left in the first half. LCB Terence Newman had inside position, so Manning made a terrific throw where only WR Plaxico Burress could catch it, over his right shoulder, for a 44-yard gain early in the second quarter. Bottom Line: Manning was average, but didn't make major mistakes.

RUNNING BACKS

Brandon Jacobs didn't allow initial contact, made by LDE Marcus Spears behind the line of scrimmage, to stop him from plowing forward for a 3-yard TD late in the third quarter. While changing direction at the point of attack, Tiki Barber showed a lack of awareness when WLB DeMarcus Ware punched the football from his grip late in the second quarter. James recovered Barber's fumble at the Giants' 14, but RCB Sam Madison's interception five plays later prevented Barber's turnover from costing the Giants the lead. Bottom Line: Barber and Jacobs ran all over another stingy run defense.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

TE Jeremy Shockey stutter-stepped near the goal line to freeze SS Roy Williams and a caught a 13-yard touchdown for a 19-7 lead just 53 seconds into the third quarter. WR Plaxico Burress misjudged the depth of Manning's pass into the end zone and allowed Newman to intercept it, despite drawing an offensive pass interference penalty early in the second quarter. Bottom Line: Burress' early success set the tone for the relatively easy victory.

OFFENSIVE LINE

With the Giants up 26-15 but losing momentum, LT Luke Petitgout was overpowered by Ware, who mauled Manning for a 10-yard sack on a third-and-eight play from the Giants' 31 in the fourth quarter. Overall, though, the front five yielded just two sacks and committed only one of the Giants' three penalties. Bottom Line: This was the line's third straight impressive performance.

DEFENSIVE LINE

With driving Dallas down 26-15, RDE Mathias Kiwanuka applied pressure on Tony Romo, whose hasty pass was picked off by DT Fred Robbins with 8:54 to play. LDE Michael Strahan got his left hand up to tip Romo's first pass of the game, which was intercepted by MLB Antonio Pierce at Dallas' 20 on the first play of the second half. The turnover led to Shockey's TD three plays later. RDE Osi Umenyiora used a swim move to beat RG Marco Rivera to sack Drew Bledsoe for an eight-yard loss on a third-and-16 play in the second quarter. Bottom Line: Strahan was incredible all game, against the pass and run.

LINEBACKERS

WLB Brandon Short's shoulder-to-shoulder tackle seemed to stop a lunging Bledsoe from breaking the plane with the ball, but Bledsoe was credited with a 1-yard touchdown late in the second quarter. On the Cowboys' previous series, Arrington timed a blitz perfectly, blew quickly through a huge hole on the right side of Dallas' line and sacked Bledsoe for a safety late in the first quarter. Bottom Line: The timing of Arrington's season-ending injury was cruel.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Nickel back R.W. McQuarters made a strange, last-second adjustment, and his curious cushion allowed Owens to catch an easy 8-yard TD in the front of the end zone that drew Dallas within two scores with 13:06 to play (26-15). On a second-and-goal play from the Giants' 4, RCB Sam Madison made a perfect break on the ball and got both feet inbounds to intercept Bledsoe's throw to WR Terry Glenn in the front corner of the end zone with 1:33 left in the second quarter. Madison's pick prohibited Dallas from taking a 14-12 lead. Bottom Line: T.O. didn't destroy them.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The blocking wasn't great, but Chad Morton averaged an unacceptable 16.5 yards on four kickoff returns. The longest of the four returns only went for 22 yards. WR David Tyree carefully downed Jeff Feagles' 54-yard punt late in the first quarter and pinned Dallas inside its 1-yard line, which set up a safety two plays later. Bottom Line: They need improvement from Morton.

COACHING

Up 19-7 late in the third quarter, Tom Coughlin showed confidence in his offense and a winner's instinct on the road. Brandon Jacobs rewarded him with a touchdown on a fourth-and-inches play from Dallas' 3. Coughlin correctly challenged what was first ruled a Manning fumble with 5:44 left in the first quarter. The reversal to a Manning incompletion prevented a 12-yard loss that would've forced the Giants into a second-and-22 situation from their own 13. Bottom Line: They're in first place a month after a 1-2 start.

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