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    NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2011 - GAME DAY - 10:51 A.M.

    HERE NOW THE NEWS

    THE DATA WILL UPDATE THROUGHOUT THE DAY AND SHOW THE UPDATE TIME IN THE HEADER.


    NEWARK STAR LEDGER

    GIANTS' GAMEDAY: DALLAS COWBOYS HOST NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS

    Excerpt: "Giants (6-6) at Dallas
    Cowboys (7-5)



    Week 14
    Today, 8:20 p.m.
    Cowboys Stadium,
    Irving, Texas
    TV: Channel 4
    Radio: WFAN 660-AM




    THIS WEEK’S GAME REVOLVES AROUND
    ...

    The Giants’ run defense




    We haven’t talked about that area as much lately, have we? Well, facing two
    of the best quarterbacks in the league and a pass-heavy scheme against the
    Philadelphia Eagles has pushed a trouble area for the Giants to the back burner.
    Meanwhile, the Cowboys haven’t reached 100 yards in any of the previous three
    games. But this week, Dallas gets fullback Tony Fiammetta back to block for
    rookie running back DeMarco Murray. Fiammetta, who missed the past three games,
    had led the way for Murray to run for 601 yards on 75 carries (that’s more than
    8 yards per rush) over the previous four weeks. The Giants have the 23rd-ranked
    rush defense but did a decent job against the last run-heavy attack they faced
    in the San Francisco 49ers. Linebacker Chase Blackburn could help even more, one
    week after his presence against the Packers’ passing attack allowed the Giants
    to finally cover well in the middle of the field.




    THE SAVVY FAN IS WATCHING …
    Where
    DeMarcus Ware lines up




    For all of the talk about Giants
    left tackle David Diehl meeting Ware
    , his old nemesis, perhaps the matchup
    of Ware vs. right tackle Kareem McKenzie has been overlooked. Ware doesn’t just
    line up on the right side of the Cowboys’ defense. He often rushes from the
    other side as well. McKenzie has struggled in recent weeks, especially against
    the Green Bay Packers’ Clay Matthews, who beat him for a sack and forced fumble
    late in the first half, got past him for a near-safety and slipped by for a few
    more pressures. This could be an advantage Dallas will try to exploit.




    PAST MEETINGS




    10. Dec. 3, 2006: Cowboys 23, Giants 20
    9. Sept. 9, 2007 at Dallas:
    Cowboys 45, Giants 35
    8. Nov. 11, 2007: Cowboys 31, Giants 20
    7. Jan. 13,
    2008 at Dallas (NFC Divisional Playoff): Giants 21, Cowboys 17
    6. Nov. 2,
    2008: Giants 35, Cowboys 14
    5. Dec. 14, 2008 at Dallas: Cowboys 20, Giants
    8
    4. Sept. 20, 2009 at Dallas: Giants 33, Cowboys 31
    3. Dec. 6, 2009:
    Giants 31, Cowboys 24
    2. Oct. 25, 2010 at Dallas: Giants 41, Cowboys,
    35
    1. Nov. 14, 2010: Cowboys 33, Giants 20




    Remember when ...
    The Cowboys defeated the Giants, 20-8,
    late in the 2008 season? That was one of only two victories for Dallas the past
    six times these teams have met in Texas. In fact, the Giants are 2-0 in Cowboys
    Stadium since helping to open the place with a 33-31 victory in the first
    regular-season game there in 2009. They added a 41-35 win last year in a game
    that wasn’t that close until they took their foot off the gas late. The Giants
    have plenty of confidence heading down to an area in which they’ve played well
    over the past few years. Though despite what you might have read, Justin Tuck
    did not call Cowboys Stadium a “dump.”



    WHAT THE COWBOYS DON’T WANT THE GIANTS TO
    KNOW




    1. The offensive rhythm won’t automatically return with Miles Austin
    and Tony Fiammetta back

    It sounds nice for Dallas to hear one of its
    top receivers and its lead blocker will play after missing four and three games,
    respectively. But Austin’s hamstring issue has been bothering him since he
    suffered it in the Week 2 victory at San Francisco, so the timing between him
    and Tony Romo might take a while to develop again. Austin was off to a fast
    start with 233 yards and four touchdowns in his first two games, but had just 14
    catches and zero TDs when he returned for four games midway through the season.
    He and Romo might sputter once again this time around. As for Fiammetta, he’s a
    veteran, but the guy running behind him is a rookie, so it could take a few
    plays or series for DeMarco Murray to get used to him again.




    2. The offensive line sprang a few leaks last week
    Tony
    Romo was sacked five times after Dallas allowed only 20 in the first 11 games.
    The first two against the Arizona Cardinals came right up the middle, the first
    on a blitz and the second on lineman Darnell Dockett looping around center Phil
    Costa. After that, the edges crumbled, with Calais Campbell coming free off the
    right side on a stunt, O’Brien Schofield blitzing untouched off the left side
    and Clark Haggans recording a sack after Romo held the ball too long. This is
    not the kind of game an offensive line wants to have before facing the Giants’
    pass rush, which did a good job getting after Aaron Rodgers. And if you don’t
    think Romo remembers the hit from Michael Boley that ended his season last year,
    just keep an eye on him if he starts getting banged around.




    3. Not much of the secondary has changed
    Yeah, defensive
    coordinator Rob Ryan is now in charge and the scheme is a bit different. But the
    names — Terence Newman, Orlando Scandrick, Alan Ball and Gerald Sensabaugh — are
    the same. If they sound familiar, it’s because they’re the guys who have been
    beaten by Giants receivers over the past few games. Eli Manning has eaten up
    Dallas’ defense over the past four games: 306, 373, 241 and 330 yards passing,
    as well as 10 total touchdowns. Manning and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride
    have done an outstanding job at attacking the players listed above, so don’t
    expect that to change. And those numbers were from before the Cowboys saw the
    new, “elite” Manning as well as breakout receiver Victor Cruz.




    POSITION BREAKDOWNS




    Quarterback
    It has been a hot debate all week: Would you
    rather have Tony Romo or Eli Manning? Frankly, we don’t get why that’s even a
    question, especially this year. Give us the guy who keeps coming through in big
    spots.
    Edge: Giants




    Running back
    This is a tough one because Ahmad Bradshaw
    isn’t 100 percent and DeMarco Murray has been very good. Plus, with fullback
    Tony Fiammetta back, the blocking in front of him should be
    better.
    Edge: Even




    Wide receiver/Tight end
    Another toughie. Each team has a
    guy for whom defenses must account (Hakeem Nicks and Dez Bryant) and two solid
    options behind them (Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham for the Giants, Miles
    Austin and Laurent Robinson for Dallas). Cruz is on fire, though.

    Edge: Giants




    Offensive line
    The Giants’ offensive line did a real nice
    job against the Packers with the running game but they need to string a few of
    those together.
    Edge: Cowboys




    Defensive line
    Still no Osi Umenyiora here but Jason
    Pierre-Paul is starting to get a lot more attention from defenses. Still, he’s
    making plays. Tackle Linval Joseph is also contributing. Dallas also has good
    ones in Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher.
    Edge:
    Giants




    Linebackers
    DeMarcus Ware leads the league in sacks, and
    Anthony Spencer has already tied a career-high in that department. The Giants
    are hoping Chase Blackburn can come through again.
    Edge:
    Cowboys




    Secondary
    The numbers slightly favor the Cowboys (7.3
    yards per pass attempt to the Giants’ 7.7, 16 TDs allowed to the Giants’ 20) but
    Manning has found a way to exploit some of these Cowboys’ DBs over the past few
    years. Expect him to do so again.
    Edge: Giants




    Special teams
    Despite what happened in Arizona last week,
    the Cowboys have the kicking edge, as Dan Bailey has missed only three field
    goals all season. Punting-wise, it’s a big advantage for the Giants. Look out
    for Felix Jones, who had a 69-yard kick return against the
    Cardinals
    Edge: Even




    FOUR DOWNS WITH ...
    Linebacker Chase
    Blackburn




    1. You’re having fun with your new jersey number (No. 93),
    huh?

    Got to. That’s the only number I’ve got. Might as well own it.
    It doesn’t look too bad out there when I saw it on film. I got something (a
    license plate with 93 on it) but we didn’t get announced or anything so I didn’t
    get a chance to come out with it. But after the interception, I brushed my
    jersey to let them know this is the new 93 right here. Aaron Rodgers was
    probably the only one to joke about it, like, “Who the heck are you?”




    2. He said that?
    Yeah, he said, “You were hiding from me.
    I didn’t know who that 93 was.” I’ve known him for a while. He was in Green Bay
    with (former Giants OL) Grey Ruegamer and Grey was his center for the
    second-string offense, so I’ve met him at a few charity events. On the
    interception, I don’t think he saw me because I didn’t see him. I saw him
    leaning and all I saw was the arm come over the top and then the ball.




    3. You left your wife back in Ohio with your two kids. Did she get to
    watch the game and see your interception?

    She got to watch some of
    it whenever the kids would let her. She did get to see the interception. She
    liked it, obviously. She’s proud of me. She told me that and she knew I could do
    it. Just the same thing I’ve been saying: a matter of getting the opportunity. I
    play on adrenaline every week, so that wasn’t anything new for me. That’s how I
    play anyway. I play emotionally.




    4. What has been your favorite moment since
    you came back
    ?

    Shoot, probably just walking in the locker room
    the first time. I was here early, and they would come in and see me here and
    were happy to see me. That was the best part, the welcome back. When I was here
    early in the season working out, it definitely felt kind of weird. I was working
    out for everyone in the front office, me and Kawika (Mitchell). It was a weird
    feeling but also a comfortable feeling. I was just hoping to be here earlier. I
    want to prove it was a mistake I wasn’t here sooner.




    ONE MORE THING ...




    With Kenny Phillips out, expect the Giants to turn to Tyler Sash to help out
    at safety. Sash played some last week against the Packers and said he made all
    of the right calls when he was in there. He said he also made the proper
    adjustments earlier in the season when he played against the Redskins, so the
    mental part of the game hasn’t been a problem for the rookie. Time to see if he
    can hang physically."



    GIANTS' LINVAL JSEPH MAKING AN IMPACT AS HE LEARNS TO LISTEN



    Excerpt: "Last Monday, less than 24 hours after posting the breakout performance of his
    brief career in an otherwise painful 38-35
    loss to the Green Bay Packers
    , Linval Joseph sent a text message to fellow
    defensive tackle and locker room neighbor Jimmy Kennedy.




    “Thanks for yesterday. You helped bring the best out of me,” Joseph
    wrote.




    “Keep it up, your future’s bright,” Kennedy responded.




    The gesture was out of appreciation for the heavy dose of advice throughout
    the game from the nine-year veteran Kennedy. On the sideline, Kennedy shared
    everything from tips the Packers’ offensive linemen gave away with their stances
    to adjustments Joseph needed to make to counter Green Bay’s changing
    schemes.




    “Since I’ve been here, I’ve been trying to help him with his game,” Kennedy
    said. “I let him know all the things I’ve been through and the things that are
    going to help him. I told him, ‘Listen to me today and you’ll have an all-star
    day.’ He listened, he did it and he looked all-world out there.”




    And then there were the constant reminders to “stop the run, stop the run,
    stop the run” from Giants coach Tom
    Coughlin every time the two met in the hallways during the week.




    Joseph, the second-year defensive tackle, helped with that — the Packers were
    held to 89 yards on 28 carries — and more. Joseph had the best game of his
    career, recording a game- and career-high nine tackles, the culmination of
    steady progress and simply listening.




    “At the beginning of the season, he didn’t listen to me as much,” Kennedy
    said. “He trusts my word now but before he found himself saying, ‘I should’ve
    listened to you, maaaan. I should’ve listened to you, maaaan. I should’ve
    listened to you.’ Before you know it, he’s just like, ‘You know what? I’m just
    going to listen to you.’”




    Teammates say Joseph, 23, can still better utilize his “oxlike” strength on
    the field with improved technique, but he continues to take strides and will
    play a substantial role when the Giants attempt to halt a four-game losing
    streak against the Dallas Cowboys tonight at Cowboys Stadium.




    Joseph’s strength and ears have helped during his rapid ascension to starter
    and vital cog in the Giants defense. After appearing in just six games his
    rookie season, the
    Washington Redskins outbid the Giants for Barry Cofield
    , placing the
    spotlight on Joseph and rookie Marvin Austin on the interior, alongside
    incumbent starter Chris Canty.




    But Austin’s season was wiped out by an injury in the preseason, and Joseph
    has started all but one game this season.




    “They showed they trusted me enough to make the move and they expect a lot of
    good things out of me,” the soft-spoken Joseph said.



    During the NFL lockout this past summer, Joseph spent his days at home in
    Gainesville, Fla., riding a stationary bike at six in the morning before his
    first workout session. He would get back on the bike in the afternoon before a
    second workout. The schedule — mixed with some fishing on the side — became his
    daily routine.




    That discipline goes back to his high school days as a two-way star and state
    weightlifting champion at Santa Fe High School through his three years at East
    Carolina University.




    Joseph moved to Gainesville from St. Croix with his mother, Ernestine, a
    native of Gainesville, and his brother, Isaac, when he was 10 years old.




    Tall and lanky as a youngster, Joseph grew up playing soccer on the Virgin
    Islands and took to basketball when he arrived in Florida. But within a couple
    years in the United States, he began filling out.




    “The first time I shook his hand I told his mom, ‘This kid’s going to be a
    great football player,’” said Bill Dilling, a family friend and mentor who would
    take Joseph and his brother to University of Florida basketball games.




    Soon enough, Joseph was starring on the football field on the offensive and
    defensive lines at Santa Fe, which he attended for its agricultural magnet
    program despite being a two-hour bus ride away.




    His commitment to football was apparent from the outset. Joseph began high
    school getting picked on for how weak he was, so he took to the weight room.
    There, he cultivated the brute strength to become a standout Division 1 recruit
    and a state weightlifting champion, bench-pressing 500 pounds at his high school
    peak.




    By his sophomore year in 2005 he had verbally committed to hometown
    University of Florida as an offensive lineman, though he hoped to eventually
    move to defense. Everything seemed to go as planned. He was a football star
    going to play at his dream school for Urban Meyer, who had just won his first
    national title at Florida during Joseph’s senior season at Santa Fe.




    But a week from signing day during his senior year, Dilling, a retired police
    officer, said he escorted Meyer to his weekly radio show one day. “I asked Urban
    about Linval and he said he didn’t think he was going to sign him,” Dilling
    said.




    According to Joseph’s high school counselor, Ralph Aiello, Joseph met the
    NCAA’s academic qualifications, but Florida claimed it didn’t believe Joseph
    would be able to handle the rigors of the course work. Aiello said the athletic
    department could have gone to the provost and asked for some leeway — as the
    university and other institutions do for recruits — but Florida said it wouldn’t
    be able to make the provision for Joseph.




    Moreover, with blue-chip offensive line recruits like twins Mike and Maurkice
    Pouncey — both starting centers in the NFL — coming in, Joseph was the odd man
    out.




    Joseph was left scrambling with national signing day looming; few schools had
    scholarships so late in the process. Luckily, East Carolina was interested after
    his high school coach, Scott Pritchett, and Dilling, who attended the school,
    reached out. Skip Holtz, East Carolina’s coach at the time, was aware of
    Joseph’s talents after recruiting his teammate, Melvin Patterson, the year
    before and had a spot scholarship available.




    East Carolina’s offensive and defensive line coaches boarded a flight to
    Gainesville the next day, and met with Ernestine and Dilling for lunch. Two days
    later, Joseph and his mother were on the Greenville, N.C., campus. And a week
    after learning he wasn’t going to Florida, Joseph was a Pirate.




    “That was tough, man,” Joseph said. “They made it seem like it was my fault.
    But everything happens for a reason, and I still made it.” Read more...

    NY DAILY NEWS

    NY GIANTS, WITH HOPES OF WINNING THE NFC EAST IN THE BALANCE, FIRED UP TO END FOUR GAME LOSING STREAK

    Excerpt: "
    No matter how well they played last Sunday, the feeling was the same as it’s
    been for a while. All the yelling, all the studying, all the tough talking, all
    the rallying – nothing has been able to chase the dark cloud that has hovered
    over the Giants for the last month.



    “The losses add up and it’s tough on you mentally,” said guard
    Chris Snee
    . “It hasn’t been an easy four weeks. You have to just keep
    pushing through it.”




    As they begin the stretch run today with the first of two games they’ll play
    in the next four weeks against the first-place Dallas Cowboys, the Giants know
    there’s only one way out of this depressing mess they’ve created for
    themselves.




    As safety Antrel Rolle said: “We
    have to win.”




    It won’t exactly be a do-or-die game for the Giants (6-6) when they face the
    Cowboys (7-5) at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday night, but it’s about as close as
    they can come without facing elimination. Win and they’re back in first, with
    control of their own destiny.




    Lose and the Cowboys will be two games up with three to play and they will
    have clinched the tiebreakers, too. The Giants would have to win out while the
    Cowboys finish 0-3 to win the NFC East they seemed to control five weeks ago.
    Their hopes for a wild-card playoff spot could suddenly be in jeopardy, too.




    The situation seems grim, given the Giants’ long losing streak and their
    history of second-half collapses under Tom Coughlin. Then
    again, nothing seems to bring out the passion and the toughness of the Giants
    like a trip to Dallas to play the ’Boys.




    “I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said defensive end Justin Tuck. “You know
    what’s at stake. You know what you have to do. Now you just have to man up and
    do it.”




    They’ve done it before in Dallas, where they’ve won three of their last four
    games, including both games at Jerry Jones’ sparkling,
    still-new, $1.2 billion palace, plus the divisional playoff game at the end of
    the 2007 season.




    Overall, they’ve won five of their last seven against the Cowboys. And in
    three of the last four games, quarterback Eli Manning
    has topped 300 yards." Read more...




    "GIANTS AT COWBOYS, at COWBOYS STADIUM, 8:20 p.m.




    VITALS




    LINE: Cowboys by 3 1/2




    TV: Ch. 4 (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth)




    RADIO: WFAN-660 AM (Bob Papa, Carl Banks), Nationwide on
    Westwood One (Dave Sims, James Lofton)


    INJURY IMPACT




    The Giants will be without S Kenny Phillips (knee), which would move Deon
    Grant into the starting lineup and rookie Tyler Sash into the rotation. The
    Giants are also missing DE Osi Umenyora (ankle/knee), C David Baas (neck) and LB
    Mark Herzlich (ankle). They are hoping to get Mario Manningham back at WR.
    Cowboys WR Miles Austin (hamstring) returns from a four-game absence, eager to
    exploit the Giants’ secondary, and Tony Fiammetta returns at FB, where the
    Cowboys have missed his blocking skills. The Cowboys will probably be without
    their best special teams player, Danny McCray (ankle). Backup TE Martellus
    Bennett (rib) is doubtful. RT Tyron Smith will wear a cast on his right hand to
    protect a dislocated finger. LB Sean Lee (wrist) will wear a less restrictive
    cast Sunday.


    KEY MATCHUP




    WR Dez Bryant vs. CB Aaron Ross: The challenges don’t let up
    for a Giants secondary that has been under siege for two weeks. Bryant is
    playing his best football of the year and comes off an eight-catch day against
    the Cardinals. Ross has been victimized by Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, and
    Tony Romo will test him. Bryant’s downfield speed, combined with the return of
    Austin, should take some attention away from TE Jason Witten, Romo’s favorite
    target, who has been facing a lot of bracket coverage lately.


    SCOUT SAYS




    “The key for the Giants will be to force Romo into third and long. The weak
    spot in the Cowboys’ pass protection has been LT Doug Free , and he’s going to
    have his hands full with Jason Pierre-Paul . That means the Cowboys are going to
    have to get their running game going again but I’d look for the Cowboys to take
    some shots down field. Look for (Dallas defensive coordinator) Rob Ryan to be
    very aggressive, maybe moreso than usual. He’s just not going to sit back and
    let Eli Manning pick them apart."


    INTANGIBLES




    Both teams have kind of bumbled their way into this showdown. The Giants are
    on a four-game losing streak, even though they feel they picked up confidence in
    that loss to Green Bay last week. The Cowboys have been losing games in the
    strangest ways. The teams may have an intense hate for each other but they also
    have one thing in common. They are maddeningly unpredictable. While both teams
    need the game desperately, a Cowboy win would probably be lethal to the Giants’
    chances. Then again, you never know.


    PREDICTION




    GIANTS 30-27: Somehow, the Cowboys are going to screw this
    up.- Hank Gola"



    GIANTS NEED TO DEFEAT COWBOYS TO HAVE ANY REALISTIC JOOE OF REACHING THE PLAYOFFS



    Excerpt: "The Cowboys are first on Justin Tuck’s list,
    ahead of the Eagles and the Redskins. There’s no team he hates more than
    America’s Team.



    And now the Giants must beat the Cowboys to make something special of their
    season.




    The Giants have put themselves in a now-or-never predicament by losing their
    last four games to turn a 6-2 start into a 6-6 collapse and a two-game lead on
    Dallas in the NFC East into a one-game deficit going into Sunday night’s game at
    Cowboys Stadium.




    Big Blue vs. Big D. The loser is in Big Trouble.




    The emotion and intensity could set a record for any NFL game this season.
    The Giants are playing for their season.




    “We will approach it that way,” Tuck said. “We will come out and play it that
    way. We want to control our destiny. We don’t want to rely on somebody else to
    get us where we want to go. Obviously, if we lose this football game, that would
    be the case. We need to approach the game with that type of intensity, that it
    is a do-or-die game.”




    If the Giants lose, they will trail the Cowboys by two games with three games
    remaining. They could be eliminated in the NFC East race before they play Dallas
    in the rematch on Jan. 1 if the Cowboys beat the Eagles at home on Dec. 24.




    If the Giants win this game, they will be in control of the division going
    into the final three games. The easiest way for them to clinch is by doing no
    worse than splitting with the Redskins and Jets and then beating Dallas
    again.




    The Bears, Falcons and Lions all have a one-game lead on the Giants for the
    two wild-card spots and all hold significant leads in the conference record
    tie-breaker.




    Stick any label you want on it, but the Giants have virtually no margin for
    error and have to win this game at Jerry Jones
    stadium.




    Tuck never has any trouble getting emotionally prepared to play Dallas. The
    silver and blue gets a lot of players worked up. As bitter as the rivalry is
    with the Eagles, there’s something about the Cowboys that gets Tuck even more
    fired up.




    “It’s just the persona of America’s Team,” he said. “Even before I got here,
    I knew the history of the Cowboys and the Giants. Everybody in the country takes
    a side.”




    The Cowboys started a trash-talking battle with the Giants after Mike
    Jenkins
    called Brandon Jacobs a
    bully and DeMarcus Ware said
    Tuck is jealous of the Cowboys and wants to play for them." Read more...

    WITH MARIO MANNINGHAM BACK AND AHMAD BRADSHAW READY AGAIN, GIANTS' WEAPONS ON OFFENSE ARE FINALLY IN PLACE

    "
    Mario Manningham
    is set to return. Ahmad Bradshaw will
    suit up for the second straight game. Hakeem Nicks, Victor
    Cruz
    and Ramses Barden are
    fully healthy.



    All of those things made the unassuming Bradshaw crack a slight grin on
    Friday afternoon. For the first time this season, the tailback knew the Giants
    would have all of their offensive weapons.




    “Now,” Bradshaw said, “we’ve got enough talent to do anything we want to do
    on the football field.”




    This sudden wealth of weapons at Eli Manning’s disposal
    couldn’t come at a better time, because this evening, the Giants will play their
    annual shootout against the Dallas Cowboys.




    It’s a game that recent history suggests will feature plenty of offense. The
    two teams have met in the regular season eight times since 2007, and in seven of
    those meetings, the winner has scored at least 31 points. The Giants are 4-4
    against the Cowboys during that span.




    “We’ll need offense,” said Nicks. “They can put up points.”




    Thing is, the Giants can, too. Their 23.9 point-per-game average ranks just
    11th in the league, and that’s come despite a bevy of players missing time,
    limiting the offense. Barden didn’t play a down until November, and Manningham
    has missed the last two games with knee ailments.




    Nicks missed the Patriots game with a hamstring injury, and until last week,
    Bradshaw’s entire season was in doubt because of a broken bone in his left
    foot.




    None of that slowed an offense that ranks fourth in the league with 296.1
    passing yards per game, but the injuries did make things challenging. The worst
    injury was Bradshaw’s foot injury, which caused him to miss a month and allowed
    safeties to focus their attention on Nicks and Cruz.




    As soon as Bradshaw returned last week against the Green Bay Packers, Nicks
    saw that change.




    “They played us different,” he said. “They were watching the run more.”




    As everything has gone with these Giants, though, the offense still won’t be
    completely whole against Dallas. The line has been completely reshuffled thanks
    to David Baas’ persistent
    headaches and the moves of Will Beatty (detached
    retina) and Stacy Andrews
    (pulmonary embolisms) to injured reserve.




    But the receivers still can’t wait to test that Dallas secondary, especially
    if the Cowboys get preoccupied with the hard-running Bradshaw.




    Manningham believes the unit has been disrespected all season, partly because
    nobody has seen them at full strength.




    That will change Sunday night.




    “I think we’re underrated,” he said. “Very underrated. And now that we’re all
    together, the sky’s the limit.”

    NY POST

    GIANTS FACE COWBOYS IN BATTLE FOR FIRST PLACE IN NFC EAST TONIGHT

    Excerpt: "It has been a long time since the Giants won a game, and it seems even
    longer.



    “It does,’’ guard Chris Snee
    said. “These losses add up, and it’s tough on your mentally. It hasn’t been
    an easy four weeks. You just have to keep pushing through it.’’




    It will be 41 long days since the Giants hoisted up coach Tom Coughlin after a rousing, 24-20 victory in New
    England. Forty-one days and four consecutive losses later, the Giants sit at 6-6
    and are extremely fortunate to get what they get tonight: a chance for first
    place.

    The Cowboys (7-5) are ahead by one game in the NFC East, and whichever team
    wins tonight’s clash instantly gains the upper hand in the division race.



    “We understand what a win down there can do to our team and our playoff
    chances,’’ defensive end Justin Tuck
    said. “There are a lot of scenarios you can wrap your mind around, but why
    do that when we know we can control our own destiny with a win?’’




    There really is no fallback position for the Giants, who are coming off an
    inspiring, yet frustrating, 38-35 loss to the unbeaten Packers. They must end
    this losing now if they are to be considered a serious playoff candidate.




    “The bottom line is winning, however it happens,’’ defensive end Dave Tollefson said. “At this
    point, it doesn’t really matter how it happens. It just needs to happen.’’




    A look inside the game:




    BEST BATTLE: Cowboys LT Doug Free vs. Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul. Each week,
    it seems, JPP does something to make you stand up and take notice and not only
    because he’s the team-leader with 101/2 sacks — it’s his hustle and relentless
    pursuit of the ball. Free is solid but he will get (and need) help with running
    backs chipping Pierre-Paul and receivers hitting him as they break off the
    line.




    DEMARC-ED MAN




    Who could know that a key to the Cowboys season came on Oct. 23 when Felix
    Jones (sprained ankle) couldn’t play against the Rams? That forced rookie
    DeMarco Murray, a third-round draft pick from Oklahoma, onto the field, and all
    he did was run for a franchise-record 253 yards. Murray, with 872 yards, is
    well-within reach of the having the most yards for any rookie running back in
    Cowboys history, which is incredible, considering the company he is keeping:
    Tony Dorsett (1,007 yards in 1977),
    Calvin Hill
    (942 in 1969) and
    Emmitt Smith
    (937 in 1990).




    HOME AWAY FROM HOME




    Eli Manning caused a bit of a ruckus (for him) back in September 2009 after
    he signed a back wall in an ante-room within the visitor’s locker room,
    commemorating the first-ever game at Cowboys Stadium. Manning penned a reminder
    that the Giants won that very first game, 33-31. He won there last season as
    well, 41-35. Manning is 2-0 and has completed 50 of 73 passes for 636 yards, six
    touchdowns and three interceptions in Jerry Jones’ ostentatious $1.2 billion
    football palace." Read more...



    TEAMS' PLAYOFF CHANCES, COACH'S FUTURE COULD HAND IN BALANCE



    Excerpt: "ARLINGTON, Texas — Eli Manning wanted New York, wanted to play for Giants
    coach Tom Coughlin. Four years later, he was a Super Bowl champion. Eight years later, he is an elite
    quarterback.




    There are plenty of quarterbacks who have been coach-killers. Manning, who
    plays whenever there is a game, has not been one of them. Tonight might very
    well be his last true chance to save his coach.




    The stakes are enormous. A perfect storm — key players dropping like flies on
    both sides of the ball, a murderous schedule — has rained on Coughlin’s eighth
    parade on the sidelines the late, great Wellington Mara summoned him to patrol. Yet here
    are the 6-6 Giants, losers of four straight, still in play, spoiling for a
    first-place fight against the 7-5 Cowboys. Here is Coughlin, presiding over yet
    another second-half collapse, his considerable fight blunted by this haunting,
    self-fulfilling prophecy, somehow still holding destiny in his 65-year-old hands
    — his team’s and his own.




    It is do-or-dire — for the 2011 Giants, and for Coughlin.




    Coaches don’t have nine lives, and most of them don’t have nine seasons in
    one place. Bill Parcells went
    three seasons without a playoff victory between Super Bowls championships. If
    Coughlin, starting tonight, cannot do the best coaching job of his Giants life,
    right up there with the magical Super Bowl XLII run, and get his team to the
    postseason, that would mean four seasons without a playoff victory.




    Welcome to Coughlin’s last stand.




    Or what could be Coughlin’s last rodeo inside Jerry Jones’ palace.




    No bull.




    Ride ’em cowboy, Ten-Gallon Tom.




    There is no margin for error. It is no longer about holding your head high
    after scaring the hell out of Aaron
    Rodgers
    and the Perfect Packers. It is no longer about fighting the good
    fight, and playing the way Giants are supposed to play for 60 minutes. It is
    about being Perfect Giants over these last four weeks.




    The sorry state of the NFC precludes the Giants from elimination should they
    lose tonight, because there would still be a mad wild-card scramble among the
    Falcons, Lions, Bears and Giants. But you wonder how Coughlin, on the precipice
    as Dead Coach Walking, would be able to rally the troops and keep the Giants
    from becoming Dead Team Walking.




    The irony is that five weeks after Brandon Jacobs picked Coughlin up in the visiting
    locker room after the upset of the Patriots, Coughlin has to pick his entire
    team up.




    That Manning is his quarterback can be both a blessing and a curse to
    Coughlin. A blessing because Manning, against the likes of Tony Romo tonight,
    then Rex Grossman, Mark Sanchez and Romo again, can win the critical quarterback
    showdowns and carry him to the playoffs. A curse because Coughlin — unlike Bears
    coach Lovie Smith with Jay Cutler, or Texans coach Gary Kubiak with Matt Schaub — cannot use the crutch that he did not
    have the services of his franchise quarterback for the stretch run.




    Manning will have all receiving hands on deck tonight, and if David Diehl and the patchwork
    offensive line can keep DeMarcus Ware
    off Manning, it is hard to fathom how the vulnerable Cowboys secondary will
    be able to keep Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham and Jake Ballard
    under control. If Ahmad Bradshaw is healthy enough for 15-20 touches, all the
    better.




    On the flip side, if the Cowboys can slow Jason Pierre-Paul’s maniacal pass
    rush and Jason Garrett remembers to feed the ball 20 times to rookie RB DeMarco
    Murray to set up Romo for nuclear strikes to Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and
    Laurent Robinson — not to mention his best clutch friend, tight end Jason Witten
    — the Big Blue secondary and young linebackers will be exposed
    again." Read more...



    GIANTS' CRUZ ON RECORD-SETTING RECEIVING PACE



    Excerpt: "When Victor Cruz first started
    as a Giant last season, he didn’t wear No. 80, he wore No. 3. Maybe that is
    appropriate.



    The last time a New York athlete emerged like this — from nowhere to stardom,
    from undrafted roster fodder to probable franchise record-setter — it was John
    Starks, who also wore No. 3. The former Knicks guard was a bagger at Safeway
    after going undrafted — then inexplicably exploded on the scene.




    This has been a breakout season for Cruz. The Paterson, N.J., native isn’t
    just contributing. He has gone from somehow making the roster to becoming one of
    the most productive wide receivers in the NFL.




    The 25-year-old, in his second NFL season, is on pace to splinter the Giants’
    all-time record for most receiving yards in a season, held by Amani Toomer, who
    had 1,343 yards in 2002. Cruz is on pace for 1,434. He is fourth in the league,
    trailing Pro Bowl regulars Wes Welker
    of the Patriots, the Lions’
    Calvin Johnson
    and the Panthers’ Steve Smith.




    Cruz also has amassed those totals despite not catching a pass until nearly
    five minutes into the second half of Week 2. Since then, he has racked up five
    100-yard games (three straight going into tonight’s Cowboys clash) and three
    others with at least 90 yards. For the season, he has caught 62 passes for 1,076
    yards and seven scores.




    Chase Blackburn noticed Cruz long before the linebacker was signed by the
    Giants last week.




    “I was watching [the Giants] at home,” Blackburn said, “and I’m just like,
    ‘Man, that’s [incredible]!’”




    “I’d be lying as we all would if we said we envisioned this,” offensive
    coordinator Kevin Gilbride
    said.




    The Giants always have believed in Cruz, who went undrafted in 2010 out of
    Massachusetts. His agent, Jack Huntington, recalled there were several teams
    that came calling, including the Bears, Buccaneers and Redskins — and to the
    best of his recollection, the Broncos. Those teams just wanted to invite Cruz to
    rookie camp — the Giants, however, offered Cruz a contract.




    “We had three area scouts to see him and they all came to the same
    conclusion: that he would be a very good local free-agent try,” Giants general
    manager Jerry Reese said. “They all
    saw him as productive, quick with good hands.”




    Cruz now has become a local legend.




    In 2010, he caught three touchdown passes against the Jets in a preseason
    game and earned a spot on the team. But during the regular season, Cruz worked
    primarily on special teams in the three games he did play. He was finished for
    the year on Oct. 16 following a hamstring injury — and after barely playing on
    offense, didn’t catch a pass." Read more...

    CRUZ: BIG BLUE CAN BEAT DALLAS DBs

    "Before facing the Packers, Giants receiver Victor Cruz mentioned Green Bay’s cornerbacks often
    gambled and played extra-aggressively, which the Giants could use to their
    advantage with big plays in the passing game.



    Cruz’s assessment turned out to be dead-on, as quarterback Eli Manning ravaged the Packers secondary in a 38-35
    loss. Cruz this week turned his focus to the Cowboys defensive backfield and
    once again has noticed a vulnerability he believes the Giants can exploit
    tonight at Cowboys Stadium.




    “Watching the film we see a lot of different things,’’ Cruz said. “They like
    to mix it up, play a lot of different coverages but we definitely see some areas
    of weakness early on and some things we can clue in on and really
    exploit.

    “I think it’s basically confusing them with different routes, tandem routes
    on one side, maybe confusing them and running some switch routes and different
    things like that. I think once you start throwing different routes at them,
    different route combinations at them, they tend to get confused and they lose
    some men in coverage sometimes.’’



    The Cowboys are ranked 14th in the NFL in pass defense.




    * Manning tonight makes his 116th consecutive start, matching Ron
    Jaworski
    for the third-longest starting streak in NFL history, trailing
    just Brett Favre (297 games) and Peyton
    Manning
    , whose 208-game streak ended at the start of this season. ...
    Second-year DT Linval Joseph is coming off his strongest game,
    a nine-tackle outing vs. the Packers. Primarily a run-stopper, Joseph will be
    needed tonight against RB DeMarco Murray.




    “His best game, without a doubt,’’ defensive coordinator Perry
    Fewell
    said of Joseph’s performance last week. “He was hustling all
    over the field. He was a man that played with passion and played with fire. And
    we had been looking for that from Linval all year long. We look for that Sunday
    in Dallas.’’




    * Deon Grant is expected to start at safety in place of
    injured Kenny Phillips, who did not make the trip to Dallas,
    but rookie Tyler Sash will get plenty of work, especially in
    coverage situations.




    * Thanks to Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers,
    the Giants were torched for eight touchdown passes in the past two games. It’s
    the first time they’ve allowed that many scoring passes in a two-game span since
    Nov. 30 to Dec. 7, 1952, when Jim Finks of the Steelers and
    Eddie LeBaron of the Redskins combined for eight TD passes.




    * The Cowboys have lost their last five Sunday night games. ... Perhaps
    running the ball isn’t all that crucial to the Giants. They rushed for 100 yards
    last week vs. the Packers but lost. The Giants this season had won their first
    four games in which they ran for 100 or more yards."


    STEVE SERBY'S Q&A WITH CHRIS CANTY

    "Post columnist Steve Serby tracked down Giants defensive tackle, and former
    Cowboy, Chris Canty before today’s
    clash in Big D.



    Q: What was it like being a Dallas Cowboy?




    A: Playing for the Dallas Cowboys
    is like being like a rock star. It’s very publicized, it’ s very
    media-oriented. ... It’s like a circus surrounding the Dallas Cowboys. I think
    it was a well-run organization ... a lot of great football minds at the time
    when I was there that knew what they were doing ... but being a Dallas Cowboy is
    just kind of like being a part of the circus, being a part of a soap opera so to
    speak.

    Q: What’s it like being a New York Giant?





    A: Being a New York Giant is more me. It’s hard-hat. It’s blue collar. It’s
    come to work. Even though people in the city respect us, it’s not that circus
    mentality, that Hollywood, soap opera-type of deal. ... It’s, “Go to work, do
    your job.” ... Fans cheer hard when they see great effort from the team. ...
    It’s knockdown, drag’em out. It’s not cute, it’s not pretty, you know? (chuckle)
    But, we get it done. And that’s more who I am ... quiet, go about my business
    the right way as a professional.




    UPDATES FROM
    OUR GIANTS BLOG




    Q: Does the soap-opera aspect of being a Cowboy get in the way of
    winning?




    A: Quite possible. Obviously there were some teams in the early ’90s, it
    didn’t get in those guys’ way. (chuckle) But then again, they created some of
    that soap opera, America’s Team. ... They created some of that then, and I think
    in some ways it does. In some ways ... It puts the individual on the platform
    rather than the team.




    Q: What do you think of owner Jerry Jones?




    A: Great businessman. [I have a] lot of respect for Mr. Jones.




    Q: Because of a knee injury and a detached retina, you slipped to the
    fourth round.




    A: So you got a defensive end with a busted knee and a busted eye. I can’t
    say that that’s a pretty picture. If you’re a decision-maker, and you got to
    make a decision on a player, regardless of what his film showed in college,
    facing those kind of medical situations, I can’t say that I would make that
    choice either, to draft me. But thank God that somebody did. Thank God that
    somebody gave me an opportunity.




    Q: Think back to that night in Scottsdale, Ariz., when you sustained
    the detached retina after a fight broke out in a club.




    A: It was just a reminder that wrong place, wrong time is not an excuse, and
    it doesn’t keep you from being a victim.




    Q: How scary was that when it happened?




    A: It’s scary when it happens, because it happened so fast. The scary part is
    when you wake up in the hospital, and you realize the aftermath of what had
    taken place.

    Q: You were knocked unconscious?





    A: I don’t know whether I was unconscious or whether everything was just
    cycling so fast, but I don’t remember anything until the next day.




    Q: What was it, a flying bottle?




    A: I don’t know. I didn’t see it! (laugh). But that’s believed to be what I
    was hit with.




    Q: Was there a ruckus going on before it happened?




    A: Oh yeah, there was a big melee. I guess these two groups of guys were
    going at it. At the time, I was out there training with other draft prospects,
    and we were out for the night, and we were just trying to get out of the place.
    What do you say, what do you do?

    Q: How long were you in the hospital?





    A: I was in the hospital for two nights.




    Q: Was there a concern you would lose vision in your left
    eye?




    A: Absolutely there was. My eyeball was cut open.




    Q: Did you have to wear a patch?




    A: When you first have it, you have to have it concealed, and you have to
    have the glasses on. ... I know a little bit about what [Giants offensive
    tackle] Will Beatty is going
    through right now (Beatty suffered a detached retina vs. the Eagles on Nov. 20
    and later was put on injured reserve). It’s frustrating. ... It’s one of those
    situations, you don’t know how it’s going to work out until you go through the
    process. Nobody can give you a prognosis, you have to just kinda go through it
    and see what happens.




    Q: The draft was how soon?




    A: This happened in the end of January, but I had to go to the Combine ...
    second or third week in February?




    Q: And you went?




    A: And I went ... by train.




    Q: Why did you go by train?




    A: Because, with the particular surgery that I had to make sure that the
    retina is distributed evenly along the walls of the eyeball, they use what’s
    called a gas bubble, to keep the pressure evenly distributed on the retina so it
    lays flat against the walls of the eyeball. So anyway, I got a gas bubble in my
    eye. So I can’t go above 5,000 feet elevation. So, I have to get across the
    country, without going above 5,000 feet elevation. [I was the] only person to
    take a train to the Combine.




    Q: What did you tell the NFL teams about their character concerns
    about you?




    A: I told them that I think my body of work speaks for itself, I mean, who I
    am speaks for itself. To be honest with you, it’s just one of those situations
    where you have to rely on people that know you. [Virginia coach] Al Groh, put
    some of people’s concerns to bed about the type of person that I was. But at the
    end of the day, in the NFL business, character does play a role, but let’s be
    frank, it’s not the most important things that teams are looking at. If this guy
    is physically capable of playing, then we want him." Read more...

    ON DEMARCO: BOYS' MURRAY SEIZES THE DAY

    Excerpt: It looks like salvation for the Cowboys’ floundering season was in their
    midst all along.



    The only question now is what took them so long to give DeMarco Murray a chance.




    The third-round pick from Oklahoma was one of the most prolific running backs
    in the school’s storied history, but an injury to starter Felix Jones with Dallas underachieving at 2-3 was
    necessary before they turned to the dynamic Murray.




    UPDATES FROM
    OUR GIANTS BLOG




    The Cowboys haven’t looked back since Murray has emerged as a serious threat
    to Tony Dorsett’s single-season rookie franchise rushing record while powering
    them to the top of the NFC East heading into tonight’s matchup with the Giants
    at Cowboys Stadium.





    “We already have weapons on the outside and at quarterback, so when you throw
    in DeMarco, that’s pretty much perfect balance,” tight end Jason Witten said.




    Murray, who enters tonight’s game with 872 rushing yards (just 107 behind
    Dorsett’s team rookie mark), already is in the Cowboys’ record book after
    rushing for a franchise-best 253 yards in his first start Oct. 23 at home in a
    34-7 rout of the Rams.




    Murray figures to be even more dangerous with fullback Tony Fiammetta expected back against the Giants,
    considering Murray struggled in the three games Fiammetta missed due to
    illness.




    “I never thought it was going to be as easy as it might have looked,” Murray
    said, referring to the three 100-yard rushing performances in his first four
    starts.




    Murray had just 37 yards on 12 carries in last week’s 19-13 overtime loss to
    the Cardinals and averaged just 3.3 yards per carry during the three contests
    Fiammetta missed.




    But the Cowboys are chalking that up mostly to teams stacking the line to
    stop Murray without a fullback to protect him." Read more...


    THE BERGEN RECORD

    SULLIVAN: ROUTES OF NATIVES AUSTIN, CRUZ FINALLY CROSS TONIGHT

    Excerpt: "The North Jersey football paths of Victor Cruz and Miles Austin feel so
    familiar, so similar that it’s hard to believe the two haven’t taken at least
    some of the same twists and turns, haven’t intersected somewhere across the past
    decade. Yet even though they don’t know each other much on a personal level,
    there’s little doubt they are aware of each other’s football accomplishments.
    How could they not, given that both of their circuitous, unlikely routes have
    ended in the same place?

    Tonight, Cruz and Austin can’t miss each other.



    “We’ve never really crossed paths. We might have played each other once
    somewhere along the line, but I was a few years behind. I don’t remember him too
    much, but all my high school coaches knew him and talked about him,” Cruz said
    this week at the Giants’ training facility. “I knew about him, knew that he went
    to Monmouth and he kind of came in the same way I did. He had to work his way up
    too.”




    Tonight in Dallas, while the Giants are busy trying to save their season and
    the Cowboys are likewise hoping to preserve theirs, a most fascinating subplot
    will be played out in their respective offenses, featuring one wide receiver
    from Garfield (Austin) and one wide receiver from Paterson (Cruz), neither of whom was supposed to end up
    here. But drawing on the personality of the state that raised them, relying on
    toughness, tenacity and of course, talent, they have not merely made it to the
    NFL, but become record-setting, Pro Bowl-caliber stars.




    “We have a little Jersey thing together,” Cruz said. “Definitely.”
    Same
    place. Same time. Same story?




    Cruz and Austin represent two of the NFL’s rarest commodities – undrafted
    free agents making it big – yet are connected by more than their unexpected
    ability to outrun linebackers, out-leap defensive backs and overall, outperform
    more renowned teammates. They grew up only a few North Jersey borders and a few
    high school seasons apart, and both managed to crash football’s most exclusive
    party by way of small schools (27-year-old Austin at Monmouth and 25-year-old
    Cruz at Massachusetts) and big plays.




    “I think it’s the blue-collar mentality we breed here with these type of
    kids,” said Steve Mucha, who in his 25th season as Garfield’s football coach has watched Austin, Seattle’s
    Luis Castillo and onetime Jet star Wayne Chrebet leave
    Garfield for the NFL. “It’s a thread you see in all of these kids. They don’t
    take no for an answer. It’s just a persistence they all have. Seeing Victor’s
    situation, knowing where he came from and what he’s overcome, it makes me feel
    good.”




    Austin is expected to return to action tonight after a month out with a
    hamstring injury, bringing one more weapon for Tony Romo’s offense to unleash on
    the Giants’ overmatched secondary.




    “He’s a matchup problem, no doubt,” safety Antrel Rolle said. “He’s a fast
    receiver and he’s a physical guy, a big guy.”




    At 6 feet 2 and 215 pounds, Austin’s physical profile overshadows the 6-foot,
    200-pound Cruz. Austin’s relative anonymity stemmed from the fact that he didn’t
    return to football from his pee wee days until his junior year at Garfield, when he repaid Mucha’s overlooking a rare late
    arrival to school with a promise to turn his basketball/track prowess back to
    the gridiron. Mucha knew what sort of athlete he was getting – “I’m not an
    idiot,” he said – and before long, the coach had the answers to what sort of
    competitor he was getting, too." Read more...

    THE NEW YORK TIMES

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








    # 80

  2. #2
    All-Pro GameTime's Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2011 - GAME DAY - 10:51 A.M.



    thanks Ro..







    gonna be a long day till 8:20 rolls around.....

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

  3. #3

    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2011 - GAME DAY - 10:51 A.M.

    [quote user="GameTime"]

    thanks Ro..




    *




    gonna be a long day till 8:20 rolls around.....

    [/quote] Its just rolled past here . 8.25 now

    i cant wait till 01.20 .... LETS GO GIANTS...LETS GO !!!

    Thanks RF ...let the games begin

  4. #4

    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2011 - GAME DAY - 10:51 A.M.



    thanks Roanoke!




    this is Giants' game of the year!




    lets hope this time tomorrow, we'll be celebrating 1st place in nfce.





  5. #5
    Moderator RoanokeFan's Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2011 - GAME DAY - 10:51 A.M.

    [quote user="BigBlue1971"]

    thanks Roanoke!




    this is Giants' game of the year!




    lets hope this time tomorrow, we'll be celebrating 1st place in nfce.




    [/quote]

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








    # 80

  6. #6
    All-Pro Sarcasman's Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2011 - GAME DAY - 10:51 A.M.

    Thank you Roanoke
    #80 et reversus est fortitudo

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