Mr. Mara Would've Been Proud

Arrogance humbled – While he would never come right out and say it, simply because he was too good a man, Wellington Mara wasn't exactly a big fan of flamboyant Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

On more than one occasion after victories over the Cowboys, Mara would reference his pleasure in seeing ‘arrogance humbled.' Well, somewhere from above, Mr. Mara must be looking down on his Giants and smiling broadly. The week leading up to the game contained nothing but talk from Dallas. By the end of the game, it was the Giants that were the only ones left with anything to say.

But the capper had to be Jones' failed motivational tactic before the game. In the Dallas locker room before kickoff, Jones handed out two tickets for the NFC Championship Game to each player. In other words, the Giants were just going to be a speed bump on Dallas' road to the Big Dance. Needless to say, the best laid plans…

Justin Tuck was asked his reaction to Jones' ploy after New York's 21-17 victory. It was clear to see that he wasn't happy in the least.

"My reaction is I'm hoping they have a rebate program," Tuck said. "Not that we needed any extra motivation, but you just don't say things like that to a hungry football team."

Yes, Mr. Mara, seeing arrogance humbled is indeed a beautiful thing.

Take that TO, and Crayton too – Yes, it was incredibly amusing to see Terrell Owens in tears at the podium after the game. Sure it was admirable that he was coming to the defense of his quarterback. But it was comical to see such a loudmouth breaking down like he did.

Amani Toomer didn't hesitate to say after the game that Owens didn't look "too into it" during the game's latter stages. Perhaps that's because he was basically a non-factor in this one. Kind of like his partner in gab, Patrick Crayton.

"There was a lot of stuff after the whistle that wasn't necessary," Michael Strahan said. "There was a lot of stuff said before the game, especially Crayton. I didn't know his name. If anybody should be talking, it isn't him. We just hope TO has the popcorn ready. Maybe he and Crayton can sit in his home theater and watch us."

R-dub's big game – R.W. McQuarters hasn't exactly been a huge contributor of late. His punt-returning has been solid, but not even close to spectacular, and with the emergence of younger cornerbacks like rookie starter Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery, McQuarters hasn't exactly gotten the lion's share of defensive snaps either. That all changed in Dallas as McQuarters' key punt return helped ignite Big Blue and his huge INT sealed the deal with only nine seconds to play.

Late in the third quarter with the Giants trailing, 17-14, McQuarters fielded Mat McBriar's punt at the New York 38-yard line. He wouldn't be stopped until 25 yards later, when he was pushed out of bounds at the Dallas 37. Six plays later, Brandon Jacobs barreled in from the 1-yard line and the Giants had the lead for good.

McQuarters made sure it stayed that way. With 16 seconds to play, Dallas faced a fourth-and-11 from the Giants 23-yard line. It was last chance time and Tony Romo was looking for veteran Terry Glenn. The ball never reached Glenn because McQuarters stepped in front of it and picked it off.

Game. Set. Match. Giants.

"This is my first chance in the conference championship so it feels good," McQuarters said. "We knew Dallas has a lot of weapons. We just wanted to make sure we contained them. Dallas lives off the big play."

Not on Sunday they didn't. Dallas ruled the NFC East roost all season. But when it mattered the most, the Boys crumbled and Big Blue was left standing.

All hail the Pope – So, who exactly was that guy wearing number 33 for the Giants defense? You bet; it was none other than Howard rookie free agent DB Geoffrey Pope that was lined up on the best the Cowboys had to offer late in this playoff tilt. Sam Madison, Kevin Dockery and Aaron Ross were all already out of action so Pope was really the last line of defense for Steve Spagnuolo's defense. He more than held up his end of the bargain. While Pope only finished with one solo tackle, it was his refusal to be beaten in coverage by much more experienced players that allowed New York to emerge victorious.

"I had a few jitters out there," Pope explained. "But I got my first couple plays in on special teams so I was able to get my feet under me. I'm just happy to contribute to a win. Now we're off to the NFC championship."

And while his short stint in relief will likely fly under the radar of some of New York's bigger names, they certainly couldn't have done it without Geoffrey Pope.

AP at the mic – No one on the Giants is better in front of the microphone than Antonio Pierce. That's why no one should have been surprised at this one-liner following Eli Manning's solid game in Big D.

"That's our quarterback right there," Pierce said. "He takes more criticism I think than the president some times."

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