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    "Have you ever seen a season in which there have been so many replays in the
    gray area as this one for the Giants?

    It used to be the red challenge flag would be tossed, a few angles would be
    shown and everyone with at least a loose grasp of the rules would know what was
    coming. The only people on edge would be those in the stadium who didn’t get an

    Not this year. Between Jeremy Kerley’s elbow being ruled on
    the turf instead of on top of Antrel Rolle’s cleat, the “tuck
    rule” reversal of Mark Sanchez’s first fumble, the reversal of
    the second one because his arm was ruled to have come forward before
    Linval Joseph contacted the ball and what possibly could've
    been a fumble on Santonio Holmes that wasn't reviewable, it was
    a microcosm of this season for the Giants.

    "Not in my time," Tom Coughlin said today when asked if he's
    seen a season like this. "I can't tell you how many of these things are
    inconclusive. It's incredible. Really. And I guess someone else would argue from
    the other side, 'What do you mean it's inconclusive? The information is there
    for us and we make the call.'

    "But to me, standing on the field, getting information from above, 'Is it or
    isn't it? I can't see it all.'"

    Yeah, I know it feels to many of you every replay challenge has gone against
    them (Jake
    Ballard supposedly being out of bounds
    , Greg Jennings’ not having his
    touchdown taken away by the Calvin Johnson rule and a few others I’m surely
    forgetting), but that’s not the point I’m making.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is why has it been so close this season? Why
    haven’t the replays been so clear cut? I posed that question on Twitter during
    Saturday’s game and somebody asked if my belief was it’s a result of sloppy
    play. No, I don’t think so. Maybe the game is getting faster and therefore the
    margin of error is smaller? That’s all I have for you on that one.

    I do know there’s some gray area in the rules, though, and wouldn’t be
    surprised at all if these things are addressed in the offseason, considering a
    key member of the competition committee is Giants president and CEO John

    * * * *


    Coughlin. The guy is 65. Sixty-five. Yet, he took
    shot like that to the knee
    , stayed upright, went back to the sideline and
    hasn’t complained a bit about it.

    WR Victor Cruz. Leaping over guys, eluding tacklers, running
    away from players ... I'll ask one more time: how in the heck does this guy go
    undrafted? How does all of that athletic ability go practically unnoticed by 32

    Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Somewhat lost in the
    shuffle in all of the talk about his “simple”
    game plan
    was what that strategy says about Sanchez and the Jets' passing
    game. To me, it’s an indication the Giants aren’t that impressed with either.
    I’ve said before the way you beat the Giants’ defense is with multiple vertical
    threats. The Jets don’t have that and rely upon far too many two-receiver routes
    that don’t force defenders in zones to make tough choices. Plus, Sanchez makes
    enough questionable decisions that you don’t often have to force the issue. To
    me, and again this is me making an educated guess here, Fewell understands all
    of the above and wanted to make sure his players were comfortable more so than
    trying too hard to make Sanchez uncomfortable. If so, I love his line of
    thinking and thought the game plan was perfect.

    DE Justin Tuck. He wasn’t about to say it was Antrel Rolle
    who sparked him by saying players
    need to practice
    . Whoever it was got through. Tuck was motivated, eager to
    play and was back to his old hustling self. He had a sack and two batted balls
    at the line while also factoring into a few plays by generating pressure. He
    drew a holding penalty, got Sanchez to move his feet on DE Dave Tollefson’s key
    sack and got Sanchez to move again on the biggest play of the game – DT Chris
    Canty’s sack for a safety.

    Canty. It was clear from his answers after the game he felt
    he had the advantage when matched up 1-on-1 with Jets LG Matt Slauson. He
    certainly did when it mattered on the safety.

    S Deon Grant. You could see him peek back to Jets TE Dustin
    Keller on a pass he broke up and probably could’ve picked off on the first play
    of the second half. He had excellent awareness in zones on Saturday. The only
    negative for him was a 27-yard pass-interference penalty in the fourth quarter
    when he didn’t have to grab Keller at all.

    DE Jason Pierre-Paul. That’s why,
    as I said on Friday
    , you don’t move him from the spot he’s done the most
    damage, regardless of the matchup. When he locks his arms out, there’s no such
    thing as a franchise left tackle on the other end.

    CBs Corey Webster and Aaron Ross. Had we
    guessed ahead of time which would be on Plaxico Burress and which would cover
    Santonio Holmes, we all would’ve been wrong. Webster was on the smaller, quicker
    Holmes and Ross was on the bigger Burress. Both did very, very well.

    Pierre-Paul, Webster and
    . These were the guys Coughlin said played 100 snaps. And they
    were effective until the end. That’s incredible, especially since Fewell was
    hoping to limit
    Pierre-Paul to 40, 45 per game

    RB Ahmad Bradshaw. As I tweeted during the game, I haven’t
    seen a Giants running back make somebody road kill the way he ran over Jets S
    Brodney Pool since Brandon Jacobs plowed the Redskins’ LaRon Landry in 2008.

    Jacobs. His fire and passion is back to being a good thing.
    That’s what winning does.

    LB Jacquian Williams. His stop on Jets RB LaDainian
    Tomlinson 1 yard short of the stick in the second quarter was a play long
    forgotten by game’s end but one that should be recalled and highlighted a few
    times now. The Jets were trying to run him on a quick underneath two receivers,
    which was a great call against man coverage, especially since Williams was the
    guy in coverage because he’s been struggling at times this year. On this play,
    he did an outstanding job of working through traffic to get to Tomlinson and
    make the hit without allowing any more forward movement. It was a great play by
    a guy who’s made mistakes but hasn’t given up trying to be aggressive. “As a
    nickel linebacker, that’s my job. That’s me understanding whatever it takes to
    not let you get any plays on my time,” said Williams, who also made a stop a
    yard short of a first down to force a punt in the first quarter. “That’s all
    that was. That’s just something I have to understand. It’s one of those things
    you have to learn.” Williams also had a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter
    and was even used out wide to help jam Burress. Great game for him.

    RT Kareem McKenzie. Yeah, he gave up a sack. But if you get
    a chance to see the game again, watch him closely on the 17-yard run by D.J.
    Ware (the one on which Ware took out Coughlin) and see the hole he creates by
    plowing Jets LB Calvin Pace. (Also take a look at WR Hakeem Nicks blocking CB
    Antonio Cromartie downfield there.) McKenzie, who moved Jets S Eric Smith out of
    the hole on Bradshaw’s second TD run, hasn’t had the best of seasons but he was
    excellent on Saturday.

    RG Chris Snee and LT David Diehl. Two other
    guys who had very good games up front. Snee had a nice block on DE Mike DeVito
    on Bradshaw’s second touchdown.

    S Kenny Phillips. He's really played well the last few

    Jets CB Darrelle Revis. I know some of you thought he
    should’ve been called for pass interference on his the ball he broke up for WR
    Hakeem Nicks in the end zone on a quick slant in the second quarter. I strongly
    disagree. That’s just tremendous coverage, anticipation and awareness by one of
    the great ones. QB Eli Manning looked right before the snap and saw what he
    believed was Revis in press coverage. That means, as long as Nicks can get some
    forward momentum, he has the advantage on a quick slant. But what did Revis do
    as Manning was checking to the slant? He backed up a few steps. When Nicks got
    into his route, Revis was able to work toward him and get his hands in there.
    That and many other instances on Saturday show why he’s more than just

    Jets DL Muhammad Wilkerson. Very impressive rookie.

    Jets DL Sione Pouha. Tough dude right there.

    Star-Ledger photographers Andrew Mills and William
    . As you've seen on the site in recent days, these guys got
    great action shots. They also gathered information and quotes from field level
    to make my job that much easier.

    * * * *


    Nicks. The drops are baffling. But again, I'd say don't
    sweat it.

    OT Tony Ugoh. He got blown back a few times as the jumbo
    tight end to result in runs for a loss of yardage.

    Jets TE Dustin Keller. I had him down for three drops. The
    one that doinked off the side of his head when he didn't turn for the ball had
    to be the worst.

    Jets OGs Brandon Moore and RT Wayne Hunter,
    LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, C Nick Mangold and
    Slauson. Sacks, pressures, penalties, botched snaps and missed
    blocks for these guys.

    Jets LB Aaron Maybin. Hitting Ware out of bounds gave the
    Giants 15 yards, which allowed P Steve Weatherford to get that much closer for a
    punt to the 8-yard line. Next play: the game-changing safety.

    * * * *


    Let’s change it up a bit this week to talk about a few guys who helped on a
    play that wasn’t by any stretch under the radar.

    Cruz did most of the work on his 99-yard TD. But don’t discount the work of
    Snee and McKenzie, who gave Manning plenty of time and room to deliver that
    ball. The Jets tried bringing pressure over Snee but it never came close to
    getting home. In fact, Bradshaw didn’t even have to touch anybody in pass
    protection to that right side.

    Jets DL Marcus Dixon tried a spin to the outside and
    McKenzie just rode him further away from the pocket. Meanwhile, Snee ate up LB
    David Harris on the blitz.

    Side note: I can’t wait until the coaches’ tape becomes available so I can
    see how Bradshaw was the first to get to Cruz in the end zone. Did you notice
    that? He was only about 10 yards behind Cruz when he crossed the goal line. As I
    mentioned, he was in the backfield helping to protect, so he must’ve been
    bustin’ it the whole way. That’s impressive effort.

    * * * *


    Two days later, I still can’t believe they overturned the call on the Kerley
    fumble. They didn’t have enough evidence to overturn it based on everything we
    all saw. Was his elbow down? Maybe. But we don’t know that for sure. Like
    Mike Pereira said, stick with the call on the field.

    As for the near-fumble by Holmes, that looked like a catch to me. Perhaps it
    could've been overturned on replay, though that would've only been possible if
    it was ruled a catch on the field, which it wasn't.

    The biggest head-scratching offensive call by the Giants was, obviously, the
    pass that was picked one play after the Jets fumbled at the 1-yard line with
    8:43 to play in the game and the Giants leading by 13. How in the world they
    threw there I’ll never know. From the way Manning was under center and then
    backed into the shotgun, it was clear he’s the one that changed the play.
    However, after gaining 9 yards on a run in the third quarter, the Giants came
    out in four wides on third-and-1, which was a call that came from the sideline.
    They tried to hit Cruz on the deep wheel route instead of pounding it or running
    a shorter route. Now, the one thing I’ll say about that play is they knew they
    had something there and that the only reason it didn’t work is Cruz broke off
    the route. Two series later, they went back to it on second-and-7, got the same
    matchup of Cruz vs. Wilson and hit it for 36 yards to help set up Bradshaw’s
    first touchdown.

    At first glance, I didn’t understand why the Jets got away from the run so
    much after their first drive. In re-watching the game, though, it was clear they
    had a decent mix going. Before running the 2-minute drill in the second quarter,
    they had 19 designed passes to 12 runs. That’s not their usual way of doing
    things, but they were moving the ball well enough that I wouldn’t question the
    play calling.

    Where they started to lose me was on the three-and-out (three straight
    passes) to start the second half. They came back on the next drive to run on
    three straight plays for a total of 17 yards but then threw on second-and-6,
    which resulted in a 6-yard sack by Tuck. On their next drive, they opened with
    runs of 7 and 6 yards but a false-start penalty on Burress and a holding penalty
    on Hunter helped put them in passing situations. But then, they picked up 13 on
    a toss play to start the next drive and then threw three straight times (the
    first of which might’ve been an audible from a run) before punting.

    From the files of rules everyone should know by now, LB Chase
    actually made a smart play by going after the ball on the
    punt after Jets CB Ellis Lankster “illegally” touched it at the
    1-yard line. He can advance it if he picks it up and begins to return it. Even
    if he fumbles, the Giants have the option of taking the ball where it was first
    touched. In other words, there’s no downside to going after the ball. Smart play
    by Blackburn and terrible analysis by Daryl Johnston on Fox,
    who said “there should not be any discussion” about why a Giants player was
    around the ball.

    * * * *


    Many were questioning me when I blogged the
    Giants appeared energetic and focused in practice
    on Wednesday. Coughlin and
    the players were talking about that after the game and continue to talk about
    it, so trust me when I tell you it was noticeable.

    I had a feeling, from
    the way the Giants’ defensive backs were talking
    last week, we wouldn’t see
    much of rookie CB Prince Amukamara. That’s exactly what
    happened, though he did make a brief appearance in the second half. (Great call
    by the officials on the push-off on Burress to get separation from Amukamara.)
    The Giants have to make sure they keep his confidence up. Remember how much
    Webster meant to them during the ’07 playoff run after he got benched.

    Speaking of rookies who didn’t see much playing time, did you notice LB
    Greg Jones in there for a few plays? He came up to help fill
    the hole on a run midway through the second quarter.

    The way the game was shaking out, the Giants’ settling for a field goal after
    Cruz got them to the 2-yard line with a 29-yard reception (15 yards after the
    catch there) seemed to be a big victory for the Jets. The play that had the best
    shot in that sequence was the play-action pass on first-and-goal TE
    Travis Beckum dropped. The Jets simply bullied Beckum and TE
    Bear Pascoe on that play. Pascoe was flattened by Harris as he
    came off the ball. That seemed to be where Manning was looking initially. Then,
    Beckum appeared to have trouble adjusting and finding the ball after LB
    Bart Scott jammed him in the middle of his crossing route.
    Without TE Jake Ballard, the Giants were forced to put Beckum
    on the line there so he (and not OL Ugoh) could run the route. That also meant
    WR Ramses Barden as the “move” tight end. That’s about as
    undersized as you can get in a jumbo formation. The next play was a run wide
    right Jacobs had to cut back a bit because Pascoe lost ground on his block. I’m
    a bit surprised the Giants felt they could use that formation without

    The replay reversal of Kerley’s fumble cost Ross his third defensive
    touchdown of his career. One of his previous two was the pick six against the
    Jets in ’07, so he would’ve had two in two games against the Jets.

    What the heck was Jets LB Jamaal Westerman thinking when he
    got off the ground to hit Manning late in the third quarter? A lot of these
    roughing-the-passer penalties are close. That, uh, was not one of them. It
    didn’t matter much because it resulted in a punt by the Giants but the former
    Scarlet Knight has to know better.

    That onside free kick after the safety was awfully dangerous for the Giants.
    FB Henry Hynoski was part of the wall trying to clear room for
    Nicks to recover the ball. But Hynoski didn’t see until late the ball was coming
    for him and tried to leap out of the way. It ricocheted off him and, luckily for
    the Giants, squirted out of bounds.

    I had somebody ask me if I saw much twisting from the Giants' D-line after
    saying in my game preview the Eagles had done it successfully. I saw a little
    and even noticed they stood up their rushers like Philly did. Could they have
    done more? Yeah. But I think they also wanted to work on batting balls down at
    the line and closing those throwing windows. They were certainly effective doing
    all of that.

    And finally, to bring it all back to the replay theme, if you’re wondering
    why the safety wasn’t replayed, it’s because it was ruled Sanchez’s forward
    progress had been stopped. Forward progress is not reviewable. Of course, in the
    end, it was the right call anyway so worry about it no more."


    Excerpt: "Tom Coughlin climbed the stairs one by one on his way up to the podium for
    his press conference today. He's clearly stiff and sore after D.J. Ware was
    shoved into him by Aaron Maybin on the sideline late in Saturday's victory over
    the Jets.


    "Never better," the Giants' coach
    said, repeating what
    he said after the game
    . "I may not be able to run for a while."

    Coughlin said he didn't go for any tests on his leg and doesn't plan to do so
    in the near future. He's not making this about him but he had some fun with
    media asking about the subject.

    "I'm not going to disclose injuries," he said slowly and sarcastically when
    asked what part of his leg is hurting.

    Asked if he showed up for treatment on Sunday, Coughlin deadpanned, "I did -
    to check on the players that were there."

    When asked if he'll be coaching from the box anytime, Coughlin laughed and
    said, "No, I'll move a little quicker."

    And when asked how much Ware was fined for running into him, without missing
    a beat, Coughlin shot back, "Uh, he's no longer with the team."

    Seriously, though, he blamed himself for the incident.

    "The problem I had is I relaxed because he was out of bounds. The only thing
    that happened was, 10 yards later, he got hit out of bounds," Coughlin said. "As
    John Mara said, 'Too bad you got hurt (but) we got the 15 yards.'"

    Coughlin indicated he should've kept his eye on Ware.

    "Watch the game. Keep your eye on the field," Coughlin said. "Sometimes
    someone will come to you and you'll visit that way but if there's a normal
    situation, for example a punt, you'd better not fall asleep on a punt. It's my
    fault. It should've never happened. But it could've been worse."

    * * * *

    Here's a rundown of the injured players:

    --DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee) "is still..." That was the extent of
    Coughlin's answer and, frankly, the extent of the question I asked. He cut me
    off and then the next question cut him off. Translation: Umenyiora is still in a
    holding pattern and doesn't sound to be on the good side of questionable for
    Sunday's game against the Cowboys.

    --"Questionable to start the week" is how Coughlin described WR Mario
    Manningham (knee), whom he said started to feel better late last week. He's
    hopeful Manningham will be ready to play.

    --TE Jake Ballard (knee) said he's improving but isn't yet where he needs to
    be. Ballard said he hasn't run yet and, as of this point, isn't ready to play.
    But he has six days to get there so stay tuned.

    --There are plenty of sore players, plus the entire roster is drained
    physically and mentally after Saturday's game. In fact, DE Justin Tuck believes
    his 88 snaps were the most he's played at the NFL level. Coughlin said three
    players (DE Jason Pierre-Paul, CB Corey Webster and S Antrel Rolle) played over
    100 snaps, which is an astronomical number. They can than the offense's
    inability to sustain drives as part of the issue there. But the team does have
    an extra day to get back to full strength, which makes Coughlin, Tuck and others
    happy."


    Excerpt: "Rex Ryan's Jets were humbled by the cross-town Giants in a 29-14 loss on
    Christmas Eve. But after a week of saying he doesn't want to be the "little
    brother" or "second fiddle" in the area rivalry, and that his team is the better
    team, the Jets coach doesn't regret his message.

    "The day I walked in here ... I felt that I didn’t want to be the little
    brother or whatever," Ryan said. "That’s who I am, and so do I regret it? No.
    Did it work out? Nope, it never worked out. But I'm never going to say I regret
    anything that I believe in my heart. I've always said from Day One I am going to
    be true to myself, and when I leave this job 10 or 15 years from now, I'm going
    to be true to myself."



    Excerpt: "The official NFL schedule says next weekend is the 17th and final week of the
    regular season.

    Ask the Giants and they’ll tell you
    it will be their second week of the playoffs.

    The elimination stage of the Giants’ season began with an emotional 29-14
    Christmas Eve victory over the Jets in
    what was billed as the Battle for New York.

    The emotion and intensity will continue when they battle another rival, the
    Dallas Cowboys, Sunday night at the Meadowlands with everything at stake.

    It’s simple. Both 8-7 teams — if you believe in such a thing — control their
    own destiny. Win and you earn a postseason berth as the NFC East champions and
    the conference’s No. 4 seed.

    Lose and the entire franchise from the front office on down will face a long
    offseason of scrutiny.

    “It started last week,” coach Tom Coughlin said of the week of practice
    leading up to Saturday’s victory over their fellow MetLife Stadium tenants. “We
    knew that if we won two that we would be the winner of the NFC East and be in
    the playoffs, so we have two games and now one under our belt.

    “To be honest with you, we need to put this one aside as fast as we can and
    go to work on Dallas with the same attitude we had last week.”

    The attitude Coughlin refers to is a boost of energy and focus at practice
    that he and his players highlighted during a week in which their backs were up
    against the proverbial wall. Whether it will continue and translate to another
    imperative victory on Sunday is not a foregone conclusion given their recent
    track record.

    It was two weeks ago today that the Giants were riding another high after a
    miraculous fourth-quarter comeback victory over the Cowboys in Dallas. But the
    next Sunday at home they inexplicably laid an egg against an inferior Redskins
    team to put themselves in this do-or-die situation.

    “Playoff game. That’s it,” linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said of the looming
    matchup with Dallas on New Year’s night. “It’s a playoff game and we need this
    one to accomplish our goal. We’re just going to keep the pedal on the gas and go

    Sunday’s matchup will be the second time the teams face each other in less
    than a month, and having such a high-stakes divisional game for the last weekend
    of the season is exactly what the NFL was aiming for when it decided to group
    divisional games at the end of the regular season. The game was originally
    scheduled for 1 p.m., but the league used its flexible scheduling to move the
    showdown to prime time.

    The first time around, on Dec. 11, the Giants overcame a 34-22 lead with 5:41
    remaining to overtake the Cowboys. Now the Giants will look to duplicate the
    result 21 days later.

    “That’s a little different,” Kiwanuka said of playing the Cowboys twice in
    such a short span. “When I looked at the schedule, it looked a little odd, but
    given the situation, this is a beautiful situation to be in.”

    Last season, the Giants were in a better situation record-wise when they
    headed into the final weekend one game better at 9-6. They took care of
    business, beating the Redskins, 17-14. But unlike this year they needed help
    from other teams to earn a berth in the postseason and didn’t get it.

    This time it’s all on them to avoid missing the playoffs for the third
    consecutive season."


    "The NFL will not look into the tense post-game exchange between Jets coach Rex Ryan and Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, an NFL
    spokesman confirmed.

    After the
    Giants' 29-14 Christmas Eve win
    , Jacobs yelled at Ryan, “Time to shut up,
    fat boy!”

    Jacobs claims
    Ryan then tried to come after him
    “the way his old man went after (Kevin)

    “You’re talking to the wrong Giant,” Jacobs said he yelled, “because I will
    kick your (butt)!”

    Ryan called the exchange with Jacobs a "private conversation" — perhaps a
    reference to the league's reason for not looking into New England coach Bill
    Belichick's reportedly vulgar remark about the Jets to his son after the
    Patriots' Week 10 win.

    "He doesn't like me," Ryan said of Jacobs. "I respect him, but I couldn't
    care less about him."

    Ryan has been fined twice by the league in his three-year tenure, both for
    interactions with fans."



    Excerpt: "
    Every defensive player who was asked last week responded with a roll of the
    eyes or a disgusted shake of the head. None of them could think of one game
    where the Giants’ defense actually played like a Giants defense.

    Until now.

    “You got it,” linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka
    said after the Giants’ season-saving, 29-14 win over the Jets on Christmas Eve.
    “You got it right there.”

    “I think this was definitely it,” added safety Antrel Rolle. “We came
    out and played relentless.”

    That’s the perfect way to describe the five-sack, three-turnover-caused
    performance of the Giants’ beleaguered defense in what was their best and most
    relentless performance of the season. The Jets entered the game clearly thinking
    they could withstand the Giants’ rush and pick apart their vulnerable secondary.
    Mark Sanchez even
    threw the ball 59 times.

    But he completed just 30 for only 258 yards and if it weren’t for a couple of
    close-but-fortunate replay reviews he might have turned the ball over two more
    times. Especially in the second half, the Giants’ defense never let the Jets’
    attack pick up steam.

    It was a welcome change from their recent performances, which had been marked
    by confused looks on players’ faces, botched assignments and quarterbacks being
    mostly untouched. And considering what’s at stake on Sunday night, when the
    Giants face the Dallas Cowboys in a winner-take-all NFC East showdown at the
    Meadowlands, the revival couldn’t have come at a better time.

    “I don’t think we necessarily needed it. I think we always knew that it was
    going to come and it would be there,” Kiwanuka said. “But timing is everything.
    We’re clicking on all cylinders right now.”

    “What better time to be playing your best football than this time?” said
    defensive tackle Chris Canty. “December,
    January in the National Football League is when you want to be at your

    There were plenty of players at their best. Cornerback Corey
    and safety Kenny
    each had an interception. Canty had a sack for a game-sealing
    safety. Justin Tuck had a sack
    and two batted passes in his finest game of the season. And Jason Pierre-Paul
    added two more sacks to give him 151/2 for the season. The players credited
    defensive coordinator Perry Fewell for his
    game plan, too, not only for simplifying some of the coverages, but for sticking
    with it when things weren’t necessarily going right."


    "The Giants are the champions of New York after their knockout victory over
    the Jets and by Sunday night, they should be the champions of the NFC East.

    It’s all set up for the Giants to beat the Cowboys in their winner-take-all
    division title showdown in what will be a festive New Year’s night at MetLife

    In a league that’s all about coaches and quarterbacks, the Giants have a
    considerable advantage in the NFC East Championship Game: banged-up Tom
    with a left leg injury and a healthy Eli Manning versus a
    healthy Jason Garrett and a
    banged-up Tony Romo with a swollen
    throwing hand.

    Even if Romo didn’t bruise his right hand on Eagles defensive end Jason
    ’s helmet on Saturday on Dallas’ first possession, Manning would have
    the edge. Fortunately, Coughlin’s injury was to his leg and not his head when Aaron
    pushed D.J. Ware into him, so he figures to outcoach Garrett.

    Coughlin and Manning have won a Super Bowl together. Garrett, in his first
    full season, has cost the Cowboys three games — against the Lions, Patriots and
    Cardinals – with rookie game management blunders late in the fourth quarter.
    Romo has been more style than substance since he took over as the Cowboys
    starter in the seventh game of the 2006 season: He is 1-3 in the playoffs and
    has never been past the divisional round.

    Before the Giants beat the Cowboys in their wild game in Dallas on Dec. 11, I
    picked the Giants because of Manning being more reliable than Romo in a big
    spot. In the final 3:14 of the fourth quarter, Manning led the Giants to two
    touchdowns to overcome a 12-point deficit.

    In between those two scores, Romo, who otherwise played at a high level with
    four TD passes, overthrew a wide-open Miles Austin on what
    would have been a 75-yard touchdown with 2:20 left to clinch the game. Austin
    said he lost the ball in the lights, which is about the same as saying the dog
    ate my homework.

    The Cowboys opened the season by blowing a 14-point fourth quarter lead to
    the Jets at MetLife when Romo fumbled at the goal line, the ’Boys had a punt
    blocked for a touchdown and Romo threw a crucial interception to Darrelle Revis to
    set up Nick Folk’s game-winning
    50-yard field goal with 27 seconds left.

    And now Dallas closes the regular season at MetLife. It’s not a classic
    showdown: Big Blue and the ’Boys are just 8-7 and haven’t been able to get out
    of their own way. But the winner gets a home game in the first round of the
    playoffs. “You always want to put yourself in position for games like this,”
    Giants guard Chris Snee

    Manning has struggled the last two weeks, but has carried the Giants this
    season. Romo had been playing great until the hand injury – 22 TDs and just four
    INTs in his last 10 games. If Romo has any trouble gripping and controlling the
    ball, it will take pressure off the suddenly energized but highly criticized
    Giants defense.

    The Giants-Jets game started Saturday at 1:03 p.m. and took three hours and
    35 minutes to play, about 30 minutes longer than usual. The extra time might
    wind up winning the Giants the division.

    Why? The Cowboys-Eagles game started at 4:15. The Giants were up by only
    20-14 when the game started and when Romo was injured with 9:52 left in the
    first quarter. If the Giants had lost and the Cowboys had beaten the Eagles,
    then Dallas would have clinched the NFC East. So Garrett had to start Romo

    . Once the Giants beat the Jets, the outcome of the Cowboys-Eagles game was
    meaningless: Philly was eliminated and the winner of the Giants-Cowboys game
    would win the division. If the Giants game was over at 4 p.m., as most of the
    early starts are, maybe Garrett doesn’t take a chance with Romo and saves him
    for the Giants.

    X-rays on Romo showed no fracture and it was an easy decision not to let him
    back in the game. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made a trip
    from his box to the locker room to check on Romo, then showed up on the sideline
    to chat with Garrett to make sure Romo wasn’t going back in the game. By that
    time, the Giants game was over anyway, so it was an easy call.

    R omo’s hand was heavily wrapped, but the Cowboys expect him to play against
    the Giants. He said he feels good about his hand “and being able to play next
    week. We’ll have to see how the swelling goes, but I expect it to go down as the
    week progresses and I’m looking forward to New York.”

    The Giants or Cowboys will be NFC East champs. The loser is out of the
    playoffs. I like Coughlin and Manning over Garrett and Romo."



    "The Giants appear increasingly likely to be without two key pieces on offense
    and Osi Umenyiora again Sunday when they square off with the Cowboys for the NFC
    East title and a spot in the playoffs.

    Along with Umenyiora, tight end Jake Ballard (partially torn PCL) and wide
    receiver Mario Manningham (sore knee) received downbeat assessments from Tom
    Coughlin as the Giants prepared for their win-or-go-home showdown with Dallas at
    MetLife Stadium.

    Ballard said he is still in pain and would not have been able to play if the
    game had been held Monday. Coughlin said he hopes Manningham can play this
    weekend but did not sound confident.

    At least the Giants would be accustomed to having to adjust without all three
    players. Umenyiora (high ankle sprain) has missed four consecutive games;
    Ballard and Manningham sat out Saturday's win over the Jets.

    As for the Giants coach himself, Coughlin wouldn't reveal the injury he
    suffered when D.J. Ware ran into him on the sidelines Saturday but said he has
    "never felt better" and ruled out coaching from the press box against

    Coughlin joked about the injury, too.

    Asked how much Ware was fined for the play, Coughlin deadpanned, "Actually,
    he's no longer with the team."



    "It was only moments after the Giants came up big in a game that tested their
    emotional restraint, their physical resolve and their mental toughness that a
    subtle mood shift enveloped a victorious locker room. Beating the Jets felt like
    an intramural scuffle with a mouthy bully compared with the more familiar
    showdown still looming.

    “There are bigger games ahead for us,’’ guard Chris Snee said when the
    finishing touches were applied to a 29-14 dismissal of the Jets. “Don’t get me
    wrong, we’re going to enjoy this, we’re excited, but we know who is coming to
    town next week.’’

    It is too late for Jerry Jones
    and Tony Romo to come to town and make like the Grinch who stole Christmas,
    but the Cowboys can sure wreck any and every festive plan the Giants have for
    New Year’s Day. The Cowboys on Saturday night will ring in 2012 in a New
    Jersey-area hotel and the next night, in a winner-take-all battle for first
    place in the NFC East, the Giants and Cowboys meet at MetLife Stadium in a
    regular-season finale that could make the passion of Giants-Jets look like a
    friendly game of two-hand touch.

    “You always want to put yourself in position for games like this,’’ Snee
    said. “Listen, I’d love to be going into the last game and not have any of that
    on my mind. But this is when the playmakers step up and when the good teams
    prove themselves. We just have to go out and beat a team that was a tough game
    the first time we played ’em.’’


    The Giants are in position to claim the NFC East title and get into the
    playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season because back on Dec. 11 the
    long left arm of Jason
    blocked a potential game-tying field goal in the closing seconds
    of regulation. The Giants, mighty on offense and yielding on defense, snapped a
    four-game losing streak as they bounded out of Cowboys Stadium with a 37-34
    triumph that saved their season.

    Both the Giants and Cowboys are 8-7 and whoever wins this ultimate showdown
    becomes the first team to ever claim the NFC East championship with fewer than
    10 wins, going back to when the division was formed in 1970.

    “We’ve got to win, we’ve got a big chance now to win the division,’’
    co-owner John Mara said. “You get
    into the playoffs, anything can happen, that’s been proven every single

    After going 10-6 last year and missing out on the playoffs, the Giants get in
    if they get to 9-7 this time around. If so, they are the No. 4 seed in the NFC,
    do not get a bye but do get a home game, most likely against the Lions or

    Before they can claim that prize they must dispatch the Cowboys, who this
    past Saturday, after seeing the Giants take care of the Jets, realized their
    game against the Eagles was meaningless, and handled it accordingly. The
    Cowboys, at times in preseason mode, were beaten 20-7 and Romo left the game
    early in the first quarter after smacking his right hand on the helmet of Eagles
    defensive end Jason Babin.

    Romo did not break his throwing hand, but he did suffer broken blood vessels.
    He insists his bruised hand will be fine in time to throw against the Giants. It
    will be an injury that will be closely watched all week, as the Cowboys want no
    part of needing to use backup Stephen
    in a game of this magnitude.

    The Giants also hope they can avoid the two-game swoon Eli Manning’s passing
    game has experienced. Manning completed only 9 of 27 passes on the Jets and in
    the last two games has connected on only 48 percent along with one touchdown and
    four interceptions. Hakeem Nicks
    has five drops in the past two games.

    On the flip side, the Giants hope they can maintain the defensive surge they
    threw at the Jets.

    “We just look forward on building on this performance,’’ defensive tackle
    Chris Canty said. “This is not the end-all, be-all for us, we have to improve,
    continue to gel. What better time to be playing your best football? December,
    January in the National Football League is when you want to be at your


    "This next one, this last one, New York’s Team versus America’s Team with all
    of New York Rexcluding Gang Green
    Nation and most of America watching, for the division title, for the
    playoffs, for the season, should not be on Tom Coughlin.

    It should be on Coughlin’s players.

    The 2011 Giants have played 900 minutes of football, alternately inspiring
    and indefensible football, and only these next 60 minutes, these last 60 minutes
    against the Cowboys Sunday night, will truly define who they are, and what they
    are made of.

    It will not be a referendum on who Coughlin is, or what he is made of.

    Barring an epic Miracle of the Meadowlands III humiliation, these next 60
    minutes, these last 60 minutes, no longer need to be about whether Tom Must Go
    or Tom Must Not Go.

    It should be on which Giants players go, and which Giants players stay. So I
    ask them: Are you champs, or are you chumps? Do you have an indomitable will, a
    refuse-to-lose defiance that has vanished since Super Bowl XLII when it comes time to finish?

    Can you reach down and summon every last ounce of New York Football Giants
    Pride that your late, great owners,
    Wellington Mara
    and Bob Tisch, would have wished from you?

    Can you visualize a warm, sweet New Year’s Night love affair with your fans
    inside MetLife Stadium less than 24 hours after the ball drops in Times

    Will the image of Jerry Jones
    whooping it up on the Cowboys sidelines be enough to scare you straight?
    Will you be able to look yourselves in the mirror during another winter of your
    discontent if you allow Tony Romo to
    beat you with a bruised passing hand?

    Will you remember the anguish inside your souls sitting helplessly inside the
    visiting locker room at FedEx Field
    knowing you had no one to blame but yourselves for missing the 2010

    Will you finally have the courage to break through whatever psychological
    barrier has debilitated you and shoo away the haunting, taunting ghosts of
    Collapses Past? Is it asking too much for each and every one of you to commit to
    be all in one more time so true blue Giants fans can be treated to their first
    home playoff game in three years?

    The argument for Tom Must Not Go was there for all to see in The Battle of
    New York. And in the final few minutes, after he had nearly been kneecapped by
    D.J. Ware, a telling scene unfolded.

    The Fox television cameras showed vice president of Medical Services Ronnie
    Barnes and team physician Dr.
    Russell Warren
    attempting to examine an agitated Coughlin, standing on a
    barking, 65-year-old hamstring by the bench and refusing to take his eyes off
    the playing field. Then “No Toughness, No Championship” Tom limped back to his

    “He’s not exactly the ideal patient, is he?” Giants vice president of
    Communications Pat Hanlon said to the medical men.

    The inmates must never run anyone’s asylum. But Eli Manning wants Coughlin back, and there is
    widespread respect for Coughlin among key veterans.

    A Miracle of the Meadowlands III could prompt ownership, which has a history
    of erring on the side of stability, to decide that choking away another season
    is unacceptable. That someone should have to pay a price for a 2-6 second half,
    and it is time for a new voice and younger blood on the sidelines. But Coughlin
    didn’t have any Dream Team, Andy Reid did. And Reid’s Eagles have nothing to
    play for now.

    The Tom Must Go crowd would emphasize the Giants could not secure a playoff
    berth even with Manning enjoying a career season.

    The Tom Must Not Go crowd would counter while there is no crying in football,
    you try winning a division after you lose your best cornerback, your
    middle linebacker, your left tackle, one of your premier pass rushers, your
    starting running back for a month, your center for three weeks, your tight end
    for The Battle of New York, and a diminished defensive captain for most of the

    And the Giants are still standing. As Kings of New York. Coughlin never
    blinked. So I ask the players: Will you blink?

    “I know we gotta win next week. ... We got to. ... We gotta get in the
    playoffs, for everybody
    Dave Tollefson

    For everybody?

    “For everyone,” Tollefson said. “This organization, we gotta get in the
    playoffs. We’re too good of a team to be sitting home.”

    I said to Tollefson, one of the true Giants: “You said that last year

    “Yeah,” he said. “Well, [bleep] gets old saying it. So let’s not say it
    anymore, let’s make it happen.”

    Make Tom Must Stay happen."


    "It is no coincidence that Eli
    struggled to locate open receivers in the 29-14 victory over the
    Jets, as he had to make do without two targets, Mario Manningham and tight end Jake Ballard, who
    have combined for 77 receptions and eight touchdowns this season. The Giants are
    hoping both of those players will mend in time for Sunday night’s first-place
    NFC East showdown with the Cowboys.

    Ballard suffered a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right
    knee against the Redskins and last week still had not been able to run. He
    believes he will only miss one game, but that might be wishful thinking.

    Manningham has been dealing with a swollen and sore knee for the entire
    second half of the season. He is hoping to avoid surgery following the season
    and is optimistic he will be able to make it back for the Cowboys.


    Without Manningham and Ballard, Manning completed only nine passes against
    the Jets, and other than Victor Cruz
    with three receptions, no other player managed to haul in more than one

    * DE Osi Umenyiora, out the last four games with a high
    ankle sprain, will try to test his ankle later in the week to see if he can get
    back on the field to face the Cowboys. He is a longshot at best because thus far
    he has shown no ability to push off the injured ankle.

    * In addition to the bruised throwing hand Tony Romo took
    out of the 20-7 loss to the Eagles, the Cowboys came away with other injuries
    that need to be watched this week. LB Sean Lee (hamstring) and
    G Montrae Holland (elbow) both left the game in the second
    quarter. RB Felix Jones (hamstring) was also pulled early, with
    the Cowboys not needing to win the game after the Giants beat the Jets.

    * After going 6-10 in 2004, his first season breaking in rookie quarterback
    Manning, coach Tom Coughlin has guided the Giants to seven
    consecutive non-losing records. That doesn’t sound like much until you consider
    it’s the franchise’s longest non-losing streak since going 10 straight seasons
    (1954-63) without a losing record.

    The 11 first downs for the Giants against the Jets were the fewest in a
    victory since Sept. 12, 1999, when they had four first downs but beat the
    Buccaneers 17-13 in Tampa. ... Manning’s nine completions were his fewest in a
    game he played the whole way since he connected on only seven amid the snow and
    sleet in the playoff-clinching 38-21 victory in Buffalo on Dec, 23, 2007. ... CB
    Corey Webster has a career-high six interceptions this season,
    the most by a Giants player since Emmanuel McDaniel also had
    six in 2000."



    Excerpt: "
    Rex Ryan was humbled, his boasts little more than hot air.

    Forget kings of the city. The New York Jets are now a desperate team on the
    verge of missing the playoffs for the first time since Ryan took over as

    "We've won eight games," Ryan said Monday. "Obviously, we were hoping to win
    more than that."

    That was certainly the plan. Ryan guaranteed it months ago, when he declared
    this Jets team the most talented bunch he has coached in New York. Even better
    than the teams that went to the AFC championship game in each of his first two

    The Jets (8-7) have proven themselves to be anything but. Still, at this time
    last week, the Jets controlled their playoff destiny — a win, and they would've
    likely made the postseason. Ryan claimed his Jets were the best team in New
    York, superior to the Giants based on their two previous playoff runs.

    Not this year. They need to win at Miami on Sunday and get lots of help to
    keep their season alive.

    "Anything can happen in the NFL," left guard Matt Slauson said. "The Packers
    were kind of in a similar situation last year and sneaked in through the back
    door and wrecked shop. The NFL is a crazy world and anyone can win any day."

    Or lose, in humiliating fashion, as the Jets did on Saturday. In fact, Ryan's
    big words might have served as motivation in the Giants' 29-14 victory, but the
    coach has no regrets.

    "I'll stand by everything I said," Ryan said on a conference call. "Did it
    work out? No, and I'll be the first one to say it never worked out. I'm
    responsible for that. Obviously, the Giants were the better team that day,
    without question. So, I deserve the criticism that I take for it. I definitely
    deserve it."

    The thing with Ryan — love him or hate him — is that this is who he has
    consistently been since he got to New York three years ago. He was a breath of
    fresh air after Eric Mangini's tightlipped regime, a guy referred to often as a
    player's coach."



    Running game: B

    Brandon Jacobs rushed for 42 yards and averaged 6.0
    yards per carry. The team had 115 yards on the ground.

    The first half was just deplorable: six yards on seven carries. But the
    Giants found their groove in the second half, finishing with 115 yards, two
    touchdowns and 4.4 yards per attempt. Brandon Jacobs – before taking on Rex Ryan
    – rushed for 42 yards and 6.0 per carry, and Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 54 yards
    and two scores. C David Baas (neck) returned after missing three games.

    Passing game: C-minus

    I hope his teammates took care of him, because Victor Cruz turned around
    Saturday’s game. His franchise-record 99-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the
    second quarter completely shifted the momentum in a game the Jets owned early.
    It also was one of the few highlights in the passing game. Eli Manning may have
    suffered through his worst performance of the season (9-of-27, 225 yards, one
    interception), and Darrelle Revis (five passes defensed) took Hakeem Nicks (one
    catch, 20 yards) out of the game.

    Run defense: C-plus

    The Jets’ running game never took over. But it did have some success, rushing
    for 105 yards and 4.2 yards per attempt. Shonn Greene (58 yards on 14 carries)
    was especially productive in the second half, and LaDainian Tomlinson added 29
    yards on five carries. The question is why didn’t the Jets run more?

    Pass defense: A-minus

    The best game of the season for the Giants’ defense came courtesy of an
    aggressive front that registered five sacks and a secondary that shut down
    Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress (a combined seven catches for 84 yards).
    Mark Sanchez threw 59 times, but completed only 30 for 258 yards. And he threw
    two interceptions. The only reason the Giants didn’t earn an A is because of the
    three potential interceptions they dropped.

    Special teams: B

    Steve Weatherford punted nine times – including a booming 58 yarder – and
    averaged 43.4 yards per punt despite placing some in the middle of the field.
    The coverage was solid, holding the Jets to an average of 22.0 yards on kickoff
    returns, although they allowed an 18.5 yard average on punt returns. Jerrel
    Jernigan averaged 25.7 on three kickoff returns and was close to breaking two of

    Coaching: A

    Does anyone want Perry Fewell fired now? And Tom Coughlin gets an A just for
    keeping his feet when D.J. Ware collided with him on the sideline. He got his
    team primed for this game, and they hung in there despite a difficult start.

    — Jeff Roberts"



    GIANTS 101


    "For the first 14/15ths of the NFL season, the New York Giants sported a downtrodden, introverted Justin
    , if he was even present at all.

    The most recent public display his his frustration came when he refused to
    talk to the media, but sported a shirt saying "My Pain, Your Entertainment".

    Then that all came to a screeching halt this past week when Antrel Rolle
    along with former New York Giant Antonio Pierce got vocal about leadership
    within the locker room and intensity during the practice week.

    After Saturday's game against the Jets, it was revealed that Tom Coughlin sat
    down with defensive end Justin
    and discussed his status. Whatever got said, Tuck emerged a new

    Or rather, the old Tuck at least.

    Tuck played his best game of the season against the Jets with several passes
    defended to go along with a sack and several key hurries of Mark Sanchez.

    Today Tuck reiterated the fact that he "hates" the Dallas
    and that he will be getting after “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1

  • #2

    thanks Ro...
    "Measure Twice......Cut Once"
    You couldn't be more full of **** if you were break dancing in a Port-a-Potty.......Kruunch


    • #3
      Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, DECEBER 26, 2011 - 10:20 A.M.

      Thank you Ro, really appreciate what you do for these boards.


      • #4
        Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, DECEBER 26, 2011 - 10:20 A.M.

        thanks RF


        • #5
          Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, DECEBER 26, 2011 - 10:20 A.M.

          [quote user="fourth&forever"]thanks RF

          “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


          • #6
            Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, DECEBER 26, 2011 - 10:20 A.M.

            [quote user="NYgiants141"]Thank you Ro, really appreciate what you do for these boards.

            “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


            • #7
              Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, DECEBER 26, 2011 - 10:20 A.M.

              [quote user="GameTime"]thanks Ro...[/quote]

              That's the avatar I wanted to see [Y]
              “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


              • #8
                Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, DECEBER 26, 2011 - 10:20 A.M.

                damn 'noke

                i can't believe we watched the same game and i didn't catch one half of the stuff you noticed.

                great report !
                due to the fact that I am from the Woodstock generation ...
                my opinions may be chemically enhanced and influenced by severe episodes of memory loss