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    NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2012 - 10:50 A.M.

    HERE NOW THE NEWS

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

    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ONE AND ALL



    IT'S GAME DAY AND IT'S GAME ON!


    NEWARK STAR LEDGER


    GIANTS ARE NO STRANGERS TO FACING COWBOYS FOR NFC EAST CROWN

    Excerpt: "There haven’t been many instances in NFL history when two teams play in the
    final week of the regular season with as much at stake as there is going to be
    tonight when the Giants and Dallas
    Cowboys take the field at MetLife Stadium. The loser’s season is over. The
    winner will be the NFC East champion and earn a berth in the playoffs. Recent
    history tells us anything can happen.


    It’s the first such scenario for the Giants since 1937, though 18 years ago
    an eerily similar situation unfolded.




    The Giants and Cowboys also met in the final game of the 1993 regular season
    with the NFC East crown on the line. But both teams were 11-4 — not a mediocre
    8-7 — and were going to the playoffs regardless of the outcome. Still, there was
    something to play for: The winner would earn the No. 1 seed and home-field
    advantage. The loser would be the fourth seed and had to go on the road.




    And that proved to be plenty.




    Emmitt Smith, separated shoulder and all, ran for 168 yards and led the
    Cowboys to a 16-13 overtime win. Dallas carried the momentum to the Super Bowl
    where they beat the Bills, while the Giants defeated the Vikings in the
    wild-card round, but were trounced by the 49ers in the divisional round,
    44-3.




    Members of the 1993 Giants still think had they won the game, history would
    be very different.




    “Whichever team won that game, they were headed to the Super Bowl,” said
    Jessie Armstead, who was a rookie linebacker at the time and is currently on the
    Giants coaching staff. “Whoever won that game was going on to the Super Bowl and
    winning it.“




    “If we were playing at home, with the people we had around us, we would’ve
    had a chance to go all the way,” Howard Cross, a tight end on the 1993 team,
    said.




    While Cross said he doesn’t recall how he played that day — for the record,
    he caught three passes for 31 yards — Armstead remembers it well. Armstead
    recalled recovering an onsides kick in the game and knowing Emmitt Smith was
    hurt — and not being able to stop him." Read more...

    GIANTS' GAMEDAY: GIANTS HOST DALLAS

    "Giants (8-7) vs. Dallas
    Cowboys (8-7)



    Week 15
    Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
    MetLife Stadium, East
    Rutherford
    TV: Channel 4
    Radio: WFAN 660-AM




    THIS WEEK’S GAME REVOLVES AROUND
    ...

    The Cowboys' run game




    The best way to keep a pass rush honest and also off your quarterback is to
    keep the defense off balance with an effective rushing attack. Tony Romo’s
    bruised right hand only adds to the significance. He will likely be battling
    pain in his throwing hand all night, which could hinder a normally potent pass
    game and force the Cowboys to rely on Felix Jones, who has been hampered by a
    hamstring injury since replacing starter DeMarco Murray. Knowing the game was
    meaningless, the Cowboys limited Jones’ carries last week to just four. But
    regardless, the ineffective run game against the Philadelphia Eagles, with Sammy
    Morris taking the bulk of the carries, is not a good sign entering tonight. Last
    week the Jets got away from running the ball against the Giants — the result?
    Sixty-four pass plays, five sacks, and just 14 points. The Cowboys need to
    establish some sort of effective run game to keep the Giants pass rush, which
    will include Osi Umenyiora for the first time in a month, off Romo and keep
    their season alive.




    THE SAVVY FAN IS WATCHING …
    How Osi
    Umenyiora will be integrated




    The Giants defensive front underwent a rejuvenation last week against the
    Jets and will get a boost with the
    addition of All-Pro Umenyiora
    , who has been out with a high-ankle sprain for
    over a month. If anything, it’s an embarrassment of riches for defensive
    coordinator Perry Fewell, who has to manage playing time for not only Umenyiora,
    but the team’s two other elite pass rushers: Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck.
    Expect Tuck and Pierre-Paul to move to the inside on occasion to have all three
    on the field at the same time.




    PAST MEETINGS
    10. Sept. 9, 2007 at Dallas:
    Cowboys 45, Giants 35
    9. Nov. 11, 2007: Cowboys 31, Giants 20
    8. Jan. 13,
    2008 at Dallas (NFC Divisional Playoff): Giants 21, Cowboys 17
    7. Nov. 2,
    2008: Giants 35, Cowboys 14
    6. Dec. 14, 2008 at Dallas: Cowboys 20, Giants
    8
    5. Sept. 20, 2009 at Dallas: Giants 33, Cowboys 31
    4. Dec. 6, 2009:
    Giants 31, Cowboys 24
    3. Oct. 25, 2010 at Dallas: Giants 41, Cowboys,
    35
    2. Nov. 14, 2010: Cowboys 33, Giants 20
    1. Dec. 11, 2011 at Dallas:
    Giants 37, Cowboys 34




    Remember when ...
    The Giants and Cowboys last played in
    the final game of the regular season for the NFC East title? It wasn’t a
    do-or-die game like tonight is, but back on Jan. 2, 1994 both teams came into
    the finale at Giants Stadium with identical 11-4 records and the division at
    stake. Behind Emmitt Smith, who rushed for 168 yards despite suffering a
    separated shoulder, the Cowboys won, 16-13, in overtime, earning the division
    crown and the top-seed in the NFC on the way to a Super Bowl victory. The Giants
    advanced to the postseason as the four-seed and after defeating the Vikings in
    the wild-card round, they were trounced by the 49ers, 44-3, in the Divisional
    round.

    WHAT THE COWBOYS DON’T WANT THE GIANTS TO
    KNOW



    1. Even if Tony Romo’s hand is just bruised, it will have an
    effect

    The Cowboys have maintained that Romo suffered only a bruised
    right hand when it nailed Jason Babin’s helmet on his second throw in the loss a
    week ago yesteray against the Eagles. But the hand was badly swollen, and Romo
    didn’t return to the game — though it turned out to be meaningless anyway — and
    it could very well be worse than the Cowboys are letting on. Either way, the
    injury should have an impact tonight in what will be a chilly night in the
    Meadowlands. Romo was limited in practice all week and wore a black glove for
    much of it, though he said he won’t wear a glove tonight. He’ll try to gut
    through what is sure to be discomfort on every throw, but don’t expect him to
    air it out like he did against the Giants three
    weeks ago in Dallas.




    2. Pass protection has been an issue as of late
    After
    allowing just 20 sacks in their first 11 games, the Cowboys have not been able
    to protect the quarterback with as much success. Since then, they’ve allowed 13
    sacks in four games, including three against the Giants in their first meeting.
    Last week, the Giants defensive front had perhaps its best performance of the
    season, recording five sacks against the Jets. With Osi Umenyiora, who missed
    the past four games including the first meeting between these two teams, back in
    a rotation that also includes Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, Tony Romo will
    be facing heat from all angles.




    3. The Cowboys preyed on bad teams this season
    The
    Cowboys are 8-7, but they didn’t get there by beating other teams with records
    over .500. They have not beaten a team with a winning record since defeating the
    Bills in Week 10, and even Buffalo was in the midst of a freefall that included
    seven consecutive losses. The Cowboys’ only win over a team currently over .500?
    An overtime victory against the 49ers in Week 2. The Cowboys have eight wins
    against seven opponents — they beat the 5-10 Redskins twice — and those seven
    teams are combined 40-64. On the other hand, the opponents in their seven losses
    are a combined 53-38, including the Giants’ 8-7 record.



    POSITION BREAKDOWNS




    Quarterback
    Tony Romo has better stats and Eli Manning
    has struggled the past two weeks, but Manning won the first meeting, and Romo is
    dealing with a hand injury.
    Edge: Giants




    Running back
    The Giants run game has undergone a
    resurgence in recent weeks, while Dallas lost DeMarco Murray for the season and
    Felix Jones has been hampered by a hamstring
    injury.
    Edge: Giants




    Wide receiver/Tight End
    The Giants will be without Jake
    Ballard (knee) and Hakeem Nicks (hamstring) and Mario Manningham (knee) may be
    slowed by injury.
    Edge: Cowboys




    Offensive line
    The Giants line has played better as of
    late, but like the Cowboys’ unit, it has been inconsistent all season.

    Edge: Even




    Defensive line
    The Giants’ pass rush was out in full
    force last week led by Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck. Adding Osi Umenyiora
    to the mix will only help.
    Edge: Giants




    Linebackers
    DeMarcus Ware is one of the league’s elite
    pass rushers, and he is surrounded by a solid supporting cast including Anthony
    Spencer and Sean Lee.
    Edge: Cowboys




    Secondary
    Both units were woeful in the first meeting,
    allowing Manning and Romo to put up huge numbers. Can either play any
    worse?
    Edge: Even




    Special teams
    Steve Weatherford has been one of the
    league’s top punters, but Dallas has been better on field goals and in the
    return game.
    Edge: Cowboys



    FOUR DOWNS WITH ...
    Defensive end Dave
    Tollefson




    1. How was it to see the defense come together and have perhaps its
    best game of the season last week?

    It felt good, man. It won’t be
    nothing if we don’t do it again, though. One more week, and then you just keep
    doing it one more week after that. But it was great. You just hope you can build
    off that. I think we had a little bit of that earlier in the season, and then
    you get lost in the middle and try to regain it.




    2. Has defensive coordinator Perry Fewell been more creative in
    trying to generate a pass rush?

    We’re lucky to have a group of guys
    up front — tackles and ends — that can do a lot of different things, and Perry
    has taken advantage of that. It wasn’t just last week — he’s been trying to do
    that all season. We just executed well last week up front.




    3. How big is it to have a player like Osi Umenyiora back in the mix?
    And how will you guys integrate him?

    It’s huge. I was joking around
    yesterday, it’s not like we had to have a tryout and sign some guy off the
    street. We got an All-Pro, a Pro Bowler, an all-everything, so it’s exciting,
    and he looks great. We’ll definitely find a spot for him. That won’t be
    problem.




    4. Do you feel like everything is clicking at the right time given
    last week’s performance and Umenyiora’s return?

    You just hope that
    if any time of the year is good to get the ball rolling on your side, it’s now.
    We just got to keep executing on defense and relying on each other and just keep
    the momentum in our favor. You feel alright after last week, but you got to wait
    until Sunday night and we’ll see again.




    ONE MORE THING ...




    Tonight will be the fourth time the Cowboys have played on Sunday night this
    season. So far, they are 0-3 with losses to the Jets, Eagles and Giants, who are
    1-1 in such games."

    AS GIANTS PREP FOR DALLAS, WR VICTOR CRUZ DRAWS UNPRECEDENTED ATTENTION

    Excerpt: "As the Giants’ offense came to the
    line late in the game against the Dallas Cowboys three weeks ago, Kevin Gilbride
    noticed it: Two Dallas defensive backs lined up over Victor Cruz in the
    slot.


    Gilbride said we’d know Cruz had arrived when he faced his first double team.
    There it was, 12 weeks after his two-touchdown performance against the
    Philadelphia Eagles proved he was more than a preseason sensation.




    Cowboys cornerbacks Orlando Scandrick and Frank Walker were closer than the
    average “vise” — 3 to 4 yards off Cruz, as opposed to the 4- to 5-yard distance
    of most “inside-outside” double teams.




    “Okay, they’re just playing a real draconian, severe kind of double,”
    Gilbride thought.




    Except Dallas was still in a “two-high” defense, meaning the safety was
    behind the double team. Even if Cruz ran through the coverage, he’d still have
    another defender to beat.




    Something odd was happening. And even Gilbride, an offensive coordinator with
    five NFL teams, didn’t know what it was. As the game wore on, the defenders got
    closer, closer and closer still, until they were right over Cruz’s nose during
    the Giants’ winning drive.




    Cruz was being doubled all right, unlike any Gilbride-coached receiver
    before.




    “He was a gunner,” Gilbride said of Cruz, referring to the outside players on
    a punt team who must often beat two aggressive players lined up over them. “I
    had never seen that. Twenty-three years (in the league), I’d never seen that
    before.”




    Cruz has come a long way since his three-touchdown performance against the Jets in a 2010 preseason game. The former
    undrafted free agent has broken the Giants’ single-season record with 1,358
    yards, established a new record with his 99-yard touchdown against the Jets and
    was considered by many to have been snubbed when he was left off the Pro Bowl
    roster last week.




    Cruz’s increased success has been due to many things, including a better
    understanding of the concepts in Gilbride’s offense. But as the Cowboys showed a
    few weeks ago and will likely display again in Sunday night’s matchup at MetLife
    Stadium to determine the NFC East champion, it all begins with Cruz’s releases
    off the line — a skill that comes naturally to him and one in which he has
    excelled from day one.



    For some, defending against it has become a two-man job.




    “It’s pretty crazy, especially when I first saw it. My mouth dropped,” Cruz
    said. “I was talking to them, like, ‘Really? Two of you? Why’d coach put two of
    you over here?’?”




    Because one apparently isn’t enough for the quick, shifty 6-foot,
    204-pounder.




    “Mostly it’s instinct and some God-given ability to move laterally and not
    let guys get their hands on me as quick as they want to,” Cruz said when asked
    about his releases. “It’s something I work on and then, on top of that, working
    on it in practice and working on it with (wide receivers coach Sean Ryan),
    listening to his pointers and what he tells us to do. All of that kind of mixed
    in makes for successful techniques.”




    Cruz credits Ryan, as well as some offseason stretching and strengthening
    exercises, but perhaps he should thank his grandmother, who taught him to dance.
    Like an end-zone salsa, moving quickly to avoid a defender at the line is “in
    the hips.”




    Maybe that’s where Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Allen should’ve had his
    eyes when the former Giant was beaten badly off the line by Cruz on a 25-yard
    winning touchdown earlier this season.




    “I kind of faked inside, went back outside and then back inside, and he spun
    around,” Cruz said. “That was probably one of my better releases.”




    There are countless others, including those the public never gets to see
    because they happen in practice. Former Rutgers cornerback Brandon Bing, a
    member of the Giants practice squad, often gets the best view when he covers
    Cruz. Lateral movement is one thing, but what impresses Bing the most is the way
    Cruz can juke sideways while also moving forward.




    “You may think he’s coming straight at you, and then he goes left and right,”
    Bing said. “He’s just good at coming off the ball, period.”




    Cruz has learned his excellent releases make things easier for him.




    For example, on a run away from him, he can juke to make a defender think
    he’s getting into his route. That’s a lot simpler than having to block the guy.
    And when it’s a play-action fake, he can lull a defender with a similar-looking
    move before blowing by him.




    Sometimes, corners and defensive coaches forgo the jam to play “off”
    coverage. That doesn’t always work well, either.




    Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson gave Cruz room to operate on third-and-10 from
    the Giants’ 1-yard line. The Jets learned that was a big mistake after Cruz
    easily got into his route and then forced Wilson, Antonio Cromartie and Eric
    Smith to miss on his way to the 14th 99-yard
    play in NFL history.




    “I was looking for a first down,” Gilbride said with a laugh.




    With Cruz, there’s always a chance for more. He has the Giants’ three longest
    receptions of the season (99, 74 and 72 yards, plus a 68-yarder that ties him
    for fourth as well) and has 21 catches of 20 yards or more — five more than
    Hakeem Nicks." Read more...

    NY DAILY NEWS

    GIANTS CAN MAKE YEAR, PLAYOFFS WITH WIN TONIGHT AGAINST COWBOYS

    Excerpt: "
    As the Giants walk from the players’ parking lot and pass the paintings on
    the wall of the three Super Bowl trophies right outside their locker room, the
    passion will start to build. By the time they see the famed blue metallic star
    on the Cowboys helmet for the first time Sunday night, the intensity will be off
    the charts.



    What more could you ask for in the final game of the season? The Giants vs.
    the Cowboys in a winner-take-all for the NFC East championship. Eli
    Manning
    vs. Tony Romo. Tom
    Coughlin
    vs. Jerry Jones, oops, Jason Garrett. The
    Giants’ three Super Bowl trophies vs. the Cowboys’ five Lombardis. New York
    strip steak and pizza vs. chicken fried steak and nachos.




    This is the Giants’ biggest game since Super Bowl XLII.




    “This is a playoff game for us. Hopefully we get another playoff game after
    this one,” Justin Tuck said. “I’m
    excited about it. I know this entire team is. Considering the adversity we have
    had to climb out of this year, I think we are poised to make a run.”




    The winner earns a home playoff game next weekend against either the Lions or
    Falcons. The loser goes home. If that’s the Giants, then Coughlin’s future
    becomes an issue.




    It hardly matters now that the Giants and Cowboys have struggled to get to
    8-7 and that this will be the first NFC East champion not to win at least 10
    games.




    All that matters is it’s Big Blue vs. the ’Boys with enough history and venom
    — Tuck just hates the ’Boys and says so every time they play — to make this a
    classic game.




    “It’s going to be rocking in the locker room and on the field,” linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka
    said. “Exciting, electric and the epitome of the NFL. We still have all of our
    goals right ahead of us. We can do it. Everybody feels the same way. Our goal is
    very much within our grasp and all we got to do is go take it.”




    The Giants have often appeared complacent at home this season as they’ve lost
    four of their seven games at MetLife Stadium, but they desperately need to make
    the $1.7 billion building a nightmare for Dallas. The Cowboys opened the season
    at MetLife losing to the Jets by blowing a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter.
    Now the Giants want to make sure the Cowboys season ends here,
    too." Read more...

    NEW YORK GIANTS' MANTRA: NO TIME FOR LOSERS SUNDAY NIGHT AGAINST DALLAS COWBOYS

    "This always seemed inevitable, right from the moment the NFL released the
    schedule in April. When they put the Giants and the Cowboys together on the
    final day of the regular season, somehow, some way, it was destined to come down
    to this.



    “I had a feeling that’s what they were preparing for,” said Giants linebacker
    Mathias Kiwanuka.
    “To be able to play at home, last game of the regular season against a
    divisional opponent and have everything on the line and it’s not just that one
    team could possibly knock off the other. It’s us or them.




    “That’s one of the biggest stages for the regular season that you can have.
    This is the big one.”




    Indeed it is. The final regular-season game of the 2011 season is the biggest
    regular-season game in franchise history. When the Giants take on the Cowboys
    Sunday night, it will be a playoff-like atmosphere. The winner takes the NFC
    East title and a home playoff game in the first round.




    The loser gets a long winter possibly one filled with radical changes to
    ponder what went wrong.




    “You just have to win,” Tom Coughlin said.
    “There’s no margin for error in something like this.”




    “This is what you live and die for if you’re a football player,” savbraid running back Brandon
    Jacobs
    , “to be in a situation like this.”




    The fact that the Giants are in this situation is remarkable. Their
    impressive 6-2 start evaporated into a near disaster with just two wins in their
    next seven games. That included a four-game losing streak that started their
    second-half collapse. The Giants then had to bail themselves out on Dec. 11 in
    Dallas, when they mounted a furious rally to beat the Cowboys, 37-34.




    That win saved their season. Then two weeks later they had to save it again,
    with a 29-14 triumph against the Jets on Christmas Eve. Had the Giants lost that
    game they could have already been eliminated from contention.




    Instead they are staring at another opportunity, desperate not to it throw
    away.




    “It didn’t have to be this way,” said safety Antrel Rolle. “I think
    we definitely could’ve made things a little easier on ourselves. But everyone
    says the Giants fight hard when their backs are against the wall. You can’t get
    any more back there than we are right now.
    “May the best man win. Lose, go
    home. No one remembers second place.”




    Actually, the loser could slip all the way to third place behind the
    once-lauded “Dream Team” if the Eagles beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday
    afternoon. But the point is still the same. The loser will fade into an
    offseason of despair the jobs of both Coughlin and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, in
    fact, could be in jeopardy if they lose while the winner will have a chance to
    put together an unlikely Super Bowl run.




    It’s been a long time since the Giants had that chance a fact which could
    weigh heavily on Giants’ ownership if they’re forced to decide Coughlin’s fate
    after a loss. They haven’t been to the playoffs since 2008 when they lost their
    postseason opener at home despite being the NFC’s top seed.




    The drought “seems like a lot longer than it actually has been,” said
    defensive end Justin Tuck. It’s felt
    like ages to a franchise whose last playoff win came in Super Bowl XLII. After
    winning two of their last three games, though, and getting a boost from the
    return of a few injured players most notably defensive end Osi
    Umenyiora
    , who should see at least limited action on Sunday night they don’t
    feel like a team clinging to an unlikely playoff berth.




    They feel like a team that has earned the right to be in control of their
    fate.




    “The last couple of weeks some things are starting to turn our way,” Tuck
    said. “We’re getting a little bit healthier, we’re focusing better, and it just
    seems like we’re playing as one. At this time of the year those are some key
    attributes.




    “Considering the adversity we have had to climb out of this year, I think
    we’re poised to make a run.”




    For the Giants to do that, they’ll have to reverse a defensive performance
    that cornerback Aaron
    Ross
    admitted was “really embarrassing” in their last meeting with the
    Cowboys. They allowed Dallas quarterback Tony Romo to
    throw for 321 yards and four touchdowns something that might be a little more
    difficult on Sunday night with his injured right hand. They were much better in
    the win over the Jets, though, boosting their confidence to the point that
    Kiwanuka said “If we play a complete game from beginning to end, we’ll pitch a
    shutout.”




    It’s a lofty goal against the NFL’s ninth-ranked offense and a quarterback
    who hasn’t thrown an interception in seven of his last eight games.




    “We’re extremely confident,” Rolle said. “I think we’ve proven ourselves last
    week what kind of defense we can be if we put our minds together.”




    To win the East, they’ll need to put together more than just their minds. A
    game like this goes beyond strategy and toughness and physical skills.




    “You have to play this game with extreme emotion, extreme passion,” said
    defensive tackle Chris Canty. “The Xs
    and Os are important, but you’ve got to play from the heart. This time of year
    you’ve got to play from the heart.”




    The Cowboys and Giants usually do when they get together. And that’s probably
    exactly what the schedule-makers had in mind."

    NY POST

    GIANTS FACE COWBOYS IN BATTLE FOR NFC EAST TONIGHT

    Excerpt: "As soon as it became apparent what the stakes would be, Mathias Kiwanuka knew this game had to be flexed
    to the evening, given a national spotlight.



    “It’s the big one, this is the one people want to see, for good reason,’’ the
    Giants linebacker said. “To be able to play at home, against a divisional
    opponent that is a rival and hated as much and have everything on the line, it’s
    us or them, that’s one of the biggest stages in the regular season.’’




    The NFL saved the best for last in the final regular-season game of the 2011
    season. No, the Giants and Cowboys, both 8-7, are not the best the league has to
    offer, not by a long-shot, but that’s a debate for another day. The winner
    claims the NFC East title, gets the No. 4 seed in the NFC and a home playoff
    game next weekend. The loser is 8-8 and packs it up, a very unhappy New Year.
    The Giants tonight will distribute white towels emblazoned with their new slogan
    – “All In!’’ – for what is the most significant game in the two-year history of
    MetLife Stadium. It is also, according to the Giants, the first regular-season
    finale in their 87-year franchise history with clear-cut win-and-in,
    lose-and-out playoff ramifications.




    “I hear from older guys all the time, playoffs are hard to come by so when
    you get the opportunity, take full advantage of it,’’ receiver Hakeem Nicks said.




    Any playoff-elimination bout is high drama but that it’s the despised, rival
    Cowboys standing in the way of the Giants adds spice to an already savory
    mixture. Losing to the Jets last week would have pained the Giants. Getting
    ousted by the Cowboys, in the Giants home, would be an unbearable indignity.




    “It’s going to be a battle,’’ defensive tackle (and former Cowboy) Chris Canty said. “You have to play
    the game with extreme emotion, extreme passion. The Xs and Os are important but
    you have got to play from the heart. This time of year you have got to play from
    the heart.’’




    The Giants are hoping home is where the heart is.




    A look inside the game:




    BEST BATTLE




    Cowboys NT Jay Ratliff vs. Giants C David Baas. One of the main reasons why
    the Cowboys are seventh in the league in run defense (allowing 98.6 yards per
    game) is the sturdy work inside by Ratliff, who this week was selected to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time. Baas,
    completing an injury-filled and disappointing first year with the Giants,
    returned last week after missing three games with a neck injury and looked rusty
    before settling in.




    HAND IT TO TONY




    All eyes will be on the bruised right hand of Tony Romo, attempting to detect
    any sign that he’s not gripping the ball or throwing it with his usual gusto.
    Three weeks ago, Romo had no difficulty shredding the Giants’ shaky secondary
    for four touchdown passes in a 37-34 Giants victory and he’s actually had an
    under-the-radar great season (29 TDs, nine interceptions). As the Giants know
    all-too-well, Romo is most dangerous when he’s improvising." Read more...

    COUGHLIN HAS GIANTS HUNGRY FOR JUICIEST STAKES

    Excerpt: "You dreamed of a night like this one when you were a young boy, standing side
    by side with your NFL teammates inside an electrified stadium ringed with your
    fans, waving white towels with “All In!” emblazoned on them.



    You couldn’t have known that you would grow up to be a New York Giant,
    defending your stadium and your storied franchise from the hated Cowboys, but
    here you are tonight, with this priceless chance to leave a footprint and usher
    in a happening that will feel like Times Square on New Year’s Eve all over
    again, only this time the raucous, love-stricken chorus will be singing “Auld
    Lang Syne” to Tony Romo and Jerry Jones close to midnight when
    the Game of The Year ends.





    “You ask, what is our aim? I can answer with one word: victory — victory at
    all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the
    road may be; for without victory there is no survival.”




    That was Winston Churchill
    in 1940.




    It was also Tom Coughlin on
    Friday, quoting Churchill to his Giants.




    UPDATES FROM
    OUR GIANTS BLOG




    Do-or-die in war, Blue-or-die in football.




    Two hated rivals, one division title, only one playoff berth available.




    Sixty final, desperate minutes to decide whether Eli Manning and the Giants are back in the playoffs
    for the first time in three years or an 8-8 fraud paralyzed by the occasion.




    If ever there were a night for Manning to turn back the clock to Super Bowl
    XLII — or to the first Dallas game — it is this one. If ever there was a night
    for Jason Pierre-Paul to be
    Lawrence Taylor — or JPP in the first Dallas game — it is this one. If ever
    there were a night for Justin Tuck
    to be Michael Strahan, it is this one.




    There are Coughlin slogans sprinkled all over the Timex Performance
    Center:




    If You Can Not Find It In Yourself, Where Will You Go For It?




    A Goal Is Only As Worthy As The Effort That Is Required To Achieve It.




    Big Blue Warrior Creed: Keep Your Eye On The Prize, No Challenge Is Too
    Difficult, No Sacrifice Or Self-Denial Too Great, Team First!




    “I Am A Fighter, I Fight Where I Am Told, And I Win Where I Fight.”




    — George Patton" Read more...

    GIANTS-COWBOYS MATCHUPS

    "When the Giants schedule was announced in April, it did not take long to scan
    the list of ames, spot the NewYear’s Day meeting with the Cowboys in the
    regular- season finale and think this: No way that game doesn’t mean something
    to someone involved.



    As it turns out, it means everything to all involved.




    Given the strengths and weaknesses of the NFC East rivals, the expectation is
    high for another tight, tense, high-scoring affair, similar to the first time
    the teams tangled. It took a near-miracle, Eli Manning-inspired comeback from a
    12-point late-fourth-quarter deficit threeweeks agofor the Giants to escape
    Dallas with a 37-34 victory, not secured until Jason Pierre-Paul blocked a
    potential overtime-forcing field goal in the final second.

    A repeat could be in the works in the high-stakes rematch, with first place
    in the NFC East and a playoff berth on the line.




    A look inside the matchups:




    GIANTS PASS OFFENSE vs. COWBOYS PASS DEFENSE




    This was no contest three weeks ago, with Eli Manning throwing for 400 yards
    and experiencing no problem finding Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and Victor
    Cruz downfield. CB Terence Newman has four interceptions, but isn’t much of a
    ball-hawk and is not the player he once was. CB Mike Jenkins can be a force, but
    he hasn’t been completely healthy. Cowboys give up a ton of big plays and
    safeties can be exploited, just as long as Manning can avoid the hot breath of
    LB DeMarcus Ware (181/2 sacks) on his neck. TE Jake Ballard came up huge in
    first meeting, but he’s out and his absence will be felt here, unless Bear
    Pascoe or Travis Beckum pulls a surprise. Manning has not been sharp the past
    two games and must prove he’s not fading down the stretch. Nicks (hamstring) and
    Manningham (knee) both hobbled a bit, putting onus on Cruz to get deep, though
    Manningham always gives the Cowboys fits. Edge: Giants.




    GIANTS RUN OFFENSE vs. COWBOYS RUN DEFENSE




    The night of Dec. 11 was Brandon Jacobs’ finest moment of this season as he
    rushed for 101 yards and two TDs inside Cowboys Stadium. It took a while for
    Ahmad Bradshaw and the ground game to get going last week against the Jets and
    return of C David Baas was not an immediate success. Still haven’t seen vintage
    Bradshaw-Jacobs 1-2 punch, a big reason why Giants are last in the NFL in
    rushing. Keys will be how healthy active LB Sean Lee is and if Baas can move Pro
    Bowl NT Jay Ratliff off the mark. Cowboys often give Giants trouble with their
    multiple fronts, leading to bunch of negative-yardage plays. LBs Bradie James
    and Keith Brooking can be out-muscled. Edge: Cowboys.

    COWBOYS PASS OFFENSE vs. GIANTS PASS DEFENSE





    The status of Tony Romo’s bruised right hand figures to be revealed as soon
    as he unloads his first pass. Romo fired four TDs and no interceptions three
    weeks ago, finding huge gaps and glaring gaffes in Giants secondary. Dangerous
    possession TE Jason Witten was held in check last time around, but Laurent
    Robinson and Miles Austin were tough to deal with and Dez Bryant is a big play
    waiting to happen. Giants come up one short in coverage with either S Deon Grant
    or struggling rookie Prince Amukamara. The defensive backfield has cleaned up
    some of the bonehead breakdowns, but CBs Corey Webster and Aaron Ross are going
    to have to get jams in at the line and give pass rush an extra second or two.
    Romo has evolved into a low-mistake passer and is remarkably clever in the
    pocket. LT Doug Free couldn’t handle DE Jason Pierre-Paul in the first meeting,
    and if JPP moves inside to get Osi Umenyiora on the field he could exploit shaky
    C Phil Costa. Edge: Cowboys."

    GIANTS MUST CONTAIN DE WARE

    Excerpt: "Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware
    comes into tonight’s game against the Giants with only 18 sacks — “only’’
    when you consider he’s played much of the way with a neck stinger and he’s
    cooled off considerably in the second half of the season.



    Ware had 12 sacks in the first seven games for the Cowboys, putting him on
    pace for 27 sacks, which would have easily broken Michael Strahan’s
    single-season NFL record of 22 1/2 sacks. Ware has six sacks in his last eight
    games and he didn’t drop Eli Manning
    even once three weeks ago, thanks mainly to the work of David Diehl at left tackle.

    “They want to try to confuse you, they want to try to create mismatches, it
    is a very big point, one of the first things you do, you do want to find out
    where No. 94 [Ware] is,’’ Diehl said. “You don’t want him one-on-one with a
    tight end or running backs, you want to put your big guy on him. They do
    different things with him, moving him and [Anthony] Spencer around, trying to
    create confusion and trying to create running lanes for those guys to apply
    pressure on the quarterback.’’




    Diehl through the years has done a decent job with Ware, who at times will
    shift over to the other side and try his luck avoiding right tackle Kareem
    McKenzie. In 14 games against the Giants, Ware has 10 sacks.




    * This is the 100th meeting of the Giants-Cowboys series and the 99th time
    these franchises are squaring off in the regular season. The Cowboys lead the
    series 56-41-2, and the Giants are 1-0 in the postseason.




    * Tony Romo’s record as a starting quarterback is 19-2 in
    November and only 8-13 in December, proving he fades late in the season. Oh, in
    January he’s 1-0.




    After missing the past four game — including the 37-34 victory in Dallas — DE
    Osi Umenyiora returns and should see plenty of action as an
    extra edge rusher when the Cowboys are in passing situations.




    “When you look at what he presents to an offensive tackle it’s a completely
    different scenario than the other guys we have in there,’’ LB Mathias
    Kiwanuka
    said, “We have power guys, we have speed guys, guys who can
    move around throughout the line and give people problems. Just the matchup, the
    adjustment is going to have to make them prepare for another all-pro type
    player.’’

    STEVE SERBY'S Q&A WITH BRANDON JACOBS

    "The Post’s Steve Serby
    caught up with Giants running back Brandon Jacobs to talk about his proudest moments
    on and off the field, tonight’s game against the Cowboys and his future with the
    franchise.





    Describe your mentality on the field.




    I’m a dog. I’m a beast. I take the streets to the football field, that’s what
    I do. I play like I’m trying to stay out of jail, like I’m fighting for my life.
    I go out there and I play with a dog mentality, an assassin’s mentality,
    basically.




    Do you expect all your Giants teammates to play that way
    tonight?




    I definitely expect all my teammates to show up with that mentality, even if
    that’s not your mentality, no question.

    You look inside your teammates’ eyes before every game.





    To make sure their pupils aren’t dilating. The window of a man’s soul is
    straight through his eyes. When some fighters are nervous, their pupils dilate
    really a lot. I’ve seen dilated pupils in some people’s eyes. It doesn’t take
    long to see.





    And when you see it?




    That’s one person I have to have a lot of enthusiasm with and make sure I get
    him up out of his nervousness.




    And how do you do that?




    Go out there and do the best I can to knock somebody on their a-- and set a
    tone. It’s going to be like this all night. Join me.




    What are the favorite moments of your Giants career?




    I’d say the first one would have to be breaking the touchdown record for the
    franchise [on Dec. 11 against the Cowboys]. ... The 74-yard touchdown versus
    Dallas two years ago. ... And running over LaRon Landry in the open field.




    If you win tonight, where would that rank?




    It’ll rank really high, mainly because of what’s at stake and who it is we’re
    playing.




    How would you want MetLife Stadium to be tonight?




    I want it to be very, very crazy. I want it to be bananas. The loudest thing
    I’ve ever heard in my life.




    Does your 4-year-old son Brayden get a kick that you’re No. 27 of the
    New York Giants?




    No, he doesn’t care about that at all. He knows what I do. He knows my
    number. He’s just a normal kid.




    Is he more similar to you or your wife (Kim)?




    He’s more similar to my wife. He looks like her. He’s real nice. He has no
    bad bones in his body, very respectful kid. He’s a great kid. He’s definitely my
    favorite 4-year-old in the whole wide world. I get a thrill even thinking about
    it. He’s just big like me.




    How big is he?




    65, 70 pounds.




    Is your younger son (Quinn) more like you?




    Yeah, he’s definitely like me, mean, got a temper, doesn’t really care about
    too much. What he wants is what he wants.




    How has fatherhood changed you?




    Some decisions I would have made without kids, I would never make them
    now.




    Why did you and Plaxico
    Burress
    click?




    We’re two of the same kind of people, to be honest. We had it rough growing
    up. He is somebody I understand. Not a lot of people understand him. And vice
    versa: Not a lot of people understand me. He understands me. We just became
    close. He’s a good-natured cat, you know? And you can’t find too many cats like
    that.




    Your running backs coach, Jerald Ingram, has been showing clips of
    some of the old-time greats. What did you observe about Jim Brown?





    I just watched how tough he was, how hard he ran. He didn’t care who was in
    his way




    Is that the way you run?




    Yeah, I don’t care who’s there, I just keep going.




    Who else have you watched?




    O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell, Gale Sayers.




    Who in your family was the most proud that you just received your
    sociology degree from Fairleigh ****inson?




    I’d say my wife was definitely the proudest person in the world. She has two
    degrees. She was happy I stayed with it.




    Why did it mean so much to you?




    I was the first person in my family to have one.




    Did your wife encourage you?




    It was definitely something I wanted to do for the sake of our kids to say I
    have one. But sometimes she would have to push me to finish it.




    What was it like when you brought the diploma home?




    My mom, everybody there was yelling and screaming all over the place. It was
    a good time. With it being the holidays, it was extra special.




    Did your mom want you to play football?




    She didn’t care what I did. She wanted to make sure I did the right
    thing.




    There was a lot of crime in Napoleonville, La. Did sports save
    you?




    No question, sports definitely saved me. I had a lot of opportunities to go
    in a different direction.




    Sum up what it’s been like being a New York Giant.




    It’s been one of the most exciting highlights of my life. It gave me an
    opportunity to do what I love to do, and it’s a great organization. I can’t say
    enough good stuff about the Mara family and the Tisch family. I got a chance to
    be close to both families.




    Did you meet Wellington Mara?




    I got a chance to meet him once. I went up to him and introduced myself to
    him. It was an honor to have a chance to meet a person with such a strong
    appearance. He did a lot for the National Football League, not to mention the New York Giants organization.




    Are you hopeful you can continue your Giants career?




    Yes, if I can continue my career as a Giant, that would be another highlight.
    If not, I understand the business.




    Why do you want to stay with this franchise?




    It’s where I started. I like it here. My wife likes it here. My kids are
    settling in good. It’s a great organization to play for. It’s people that
    respect you and care about you as a person. The whole nine.




    Do you have a gut feeling what might happen?




    No, I don’t have any.




    But your teammates are optimistic. What do they tell you?




    “You’re straight. You’re going to be here.” They seem sure. But you never
    know. I tell them, “Time will tell.”

    Jason Pierre-Paul?





    He’s a beast. He can be so much better than he is now. He can get faster, he
    can get stronger, even more of a ferocious attitude. He could be a monster no
    one in the National Football League has ever seen before.




    The key to the Cowboys game tonight.




    We need to run the ball. That’s exactly what we need.




    Can you envision a scenario tonight where you do not walk off the
    field a winner?




    Not at all. I don’t see one scenario. I know they’re going to bring
    everything they got. I think we’re going to do the same thing. I think our guys
    want it more. I think we got just what it takes to go out and get the job
    done."

    COWBOYS' RYAN BRINGS FAMILY TO SEE "WHEN WE WIN THE EAST"

    "The family of Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is already in New York
    to do some sightseeing before Sunday's NFC East showdown game with the
    Giants.



    Ryan left no doubt that the biggest sight to see will be at MetLife
    Stadium.




    “I want them to be there when we win the East, and I’ll probably steal a
    couple of [championship] T-shirts and make sure they get them, because that’s
    what we’re there for,” Ryan said Friday at the Cowboys practice facility.




    Ryan is the fraternal twin brother of Jets head coach Rex Ryan. The Ryans
    share a certain bravado in addition to DNA as Rob Ryan all but guaranteed a
    victory for his family.




    “I know they’re going to see the Empire State Building, probably see their
    Uncle Rex and Cousin Matthew [Russo, a retired FDNY fire marshal],” Ryan said.
    “But they’re there to watch their dad become a champion, again. So that’s what
    we’re going to do.”

    THE BERGEN RECORD

    GIANTS-COWBOYS MATCHUP

    "What's at stake?


    Giants: The NFC East. Their first playoff berth since 2008. Their season. The
    winner takes all in a game that will validate one team's campaign and ruin the
    other's. The Giants enter confident — especially on defense — but banged up with
    three of their top four receivers ailing. WRs Hakeem Nicks (hamstring) and Mario
    Manningham (knee) are hobbled and TE Jake Ballard (partial tear of the PCL in
    his knee) is out for a suddenly struggling Eli Manning (47.8 completion
    percentage, one TD, four INTs in the past two games). But the defense will have
    DE Osi Umenyiora back after he missed the past four games. The Giants took Round
    1 against Dallas three weeks ago, sneaking out of Cowboys Stadium with a 37-34
    victory, but their secondary was shredded for 321 yards and four TDs. They
    rebounded last week against the Jets, but need to perform against Jason Witten,
    Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Laurent Robinson.




    Cowboys: The NFC East. Their first playoff berth since 2009. Their season. QB
    Tony Romo will play despite a bruised throwing hand. And RB Felix Jones — who
    ran for 106 yards on 16 carries in the first meeting — has been slowed by a
    hamstring issue. Romo's talented receivers again have to exploit the fissures in
    the Giants' secondary. But the offensive line — without LG Montrae Holland (torn
    biceps) — will have to open holes and keep the pass rush away from Romo. Derrick
    Dockery will fill in for Holland.





    Key matchup




    Giants LT David Diehl vs. Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware




    Ware (18 sacks, tied for second in the NFL) could single-handedly win this
    game for Dallas. Manning already has a battered receiving corps. If he is
    relegated to running for his life, Ware could deliver a knockout blow. But Diehl
    got the better of the pass rusher in their first meeting, holding him to no
    sacks, no quarterback hits and just four tackles.





    How they'll win




    Giants: Manning needs to return to form, and Victor Cruz (76 catches, 1,358
    yards, 8 TDs) needs to show what all the Pro Bowl voters missed and get the
    NFL's fourth-rated passing offense (293.5 yards per game) going. The secondary
    needs to hold its own against the Cowboys' corps of talented receivers and avoid
    the breakdowns that plagued it last time. The Giants could do themselves a huge
    favor by establishing their ground game. Although it still ranks last in the NFL
    (88.1 yards per game), it had another solid game against the Jets. On defense,
    Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck have to pressure and hit Romo,
    disrupting his rhythm.




    Cowboys: Protect Romo. The sore hand only makes him more of a target. The
    Cowboys need to establish the run and to keep the heat off Romo and the ball out
    of Manning's hands. Dallas found Witten only three times for 12 yards last time,
    a peculiarly low number for its leading receiver. On defense, the Cowboys need
    to bottle up the Giants' passing game.




    — Jeff Roberts"

    SULLIVAN: FOLLOWING FOOTSTEPS OF TUCK AND JACOBS GIANTS' BEST PATH TO PLAYOFFS

    "Justin Tuck and Brandon Jacobs represent so much than can be different in a
    football-playing personality. One plays defense, the other offense. One is
    relatively quiet and dignified, the other loud and brash. One is assured of his
    Giants’ future, the other might be playing his last game in a Giants
    uniform.



    Yet of all the voices clattering and clamoring throughout the weeklong
    buildup to the Giants’ winner-take-all regular-season finale tonight against the
    Cowboys, of all the reasons the Giants are in this win-and-in-the-playoffs
    scenario at MetLife Stadium, Tuck and Jacobs rose above the noise. By
    rediscovering the old, dominant football versions of themselves, they helped the
    Giants rediscover a path to the postseason.




    The Giants saved their season with last Saturday's emotional win over the
    Jets, and they were saved by the return of their emotional heartbeat.




    Tuck found a way out of his injury-riddled despair, clearing his mind of
    distraction and thus freeing his body to perform like it used to. His inspiring
    effort against the Jets was infectious and welcome, his constant in-game chatter
    a reminder of the presence he’d always been. Jacobs, too, escaped a funk, one of
    a more personal variety, discarding the frustration of a marginalized role to
    savor instead what he still could do. His bruising running style, reborn in the
    Week 14 win in Dallas, has ignited a resurgent Giants running attack.




    The 2011 season has been rightfully defined by the emerging greatness of the
    Eli Manning-led passing offense, yet it winds down tonight by going back to the
    franchise’s roots. Defense, led by an aggressive pass rush and offense rooted on
    the ground, will be the keys to a Giants win, and Tuck and Jacobs are the keys
    to making both happen.




    “As Tuck goes, we go,” defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. “You saw the
    old Tuck [against the Jets].”




    That old Tuck wasn’t alone – second-year pro
    Jason Pierre-Paul became a
    Pro Bowler while filling in for former All-Pro Osi Umenyiora, and even
    Umenyiora is expected to return from a lingering ankle sprain for this game. But
    while other players can rush the passer like Tuck, very few in Giant blue can
    motivate the team the way he does.




    “Whenever you hear Tuck talking, whenever he’s getting everybody pumped up,
    during games, practice, when you hear him talking, you know it’s going to be a
    good week, that Justin is feeling good and he’s going to be ready to play,”
    receiver Victor Cruz said. “He’s been in a good mood this week.”




    Or as safety Antrel Rolle put it – “Justin is alive again.”




    Tuck opened the window on his tortured season in the immediate aftermath of
    the win over the Jets, crediting a personal visit from coach Tom Coughlin for
    turning his optimism meter back in the right direction. He spoke of wanting to
    honor his eventual Giants legacy, of wanting his 21-month-old child to see him
    play the game the way he was meant to play it. He heard his coach, and then his
    teammates heard him.




    “A lot of people told me that, but you just try your best to be humble about
    it and the gifts God has given to you to play this game. That’s all I try to go
    out there and be,” Tuck said this week. “I don’t get caught up in putting my
    foot in things. Whether it’s true or not, just go out there and try to give your
    all and lay it on the line and be all in. Somehow or another it seems like
    things work out for the best when you do that.”




    Tuck, the team’s defensive captain, will be back next season regardless of
    whether the Giants cash in on tonight’s playoff opportunity. Jacobs has no such
    security, not with an eight-carry-a-game role alongside Ahmad Bradshaw, not with
    a $500,000 roster bonus due in March, not with a personality defined by big mood
    swings and bigger word wars. But like Tuck, he has recently copped to
    understanding how much his stomping, snorting speeches get his teammates pumped
    up for games, how much his intensity can be used to build up rather than tear
    apart.




    “He’s not one to deny any verbiage that he thinks will help, but he’s gone
    out and backed it up, too. You have to give him credit for that,” Coughlin
    said.




    “Brandon’s got a little bit of spunk back in his step, a little bounce back
    in his step. In practice he’s kind of hitting that extra gear that we normally
    like to see him at,” Cruz said. “I think he’s in a good place right now.”




    With the division crown at stake and the playoffs in sight, the Giants like
    where they are, too.




    Football is a cacophonous world, a multi-layered symphony of crashing pads,
    stomping feet, screaming voices and crackling hits. But sometimes, certain
    voices rise above. Even when the people behind them seem to have little in
    common, they can lift a team. From opposite sides of the ball and opposite ends
    of the personality scale, Tuck and Jacobs work in harmony. One quiet and
    reserved, the other brash and outspoken, together, they brought back a team’s
    emotional heartbeat."



    BIG BLUE KNOWS IT WILL TAKE MAXIMUM EFFORT AGAINST COWBOYS



    "Hakeem Nicks has heard the stories.





    He’s been told about the NFL playoffs, about the precious few chances teams
    get to reach them.




    But those stories might as well be legends passed down from his football
    elders. Nicks has never reached the postseason in his three Giants seasons.




    “I hear from older guys all the time that playoffs are hard to come by, so
    when you get the opportunity, take full advantage of it,” said the wide
    receiver.




    That opportunity comes tonight.




    Giants. Cowboys. A national TV audience watching on “Su
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


  2. #2
    Moderator RoanokeFan's Avatar
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    NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2012 - 10:50 A.M.

    HERE NOW THE NEWS

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

    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ONE AND ALL



    IT'S GAME DAY AND IT'S GAME ON!


    NEWARK STAR LEDGER


    GIANTS ARE NO STRANGERS TO FACING COWBOYS FOR NFC EAST CROWN

    Excerpt: "There haven’t been many instances in NFL history when two teams play in the
    final week of the regular season with as much at stake as there is going to be
    tonight when the Giants and Dallas
    Cowboys take the field at MetLife Stadium. The loser’s season is over. The
    winner will be the NFC East champion and earn a berth in the playoffs. Recent
    history tells us anything can happen.


    It’s the first such scenario for the Giants since 1937, though 18 years ago
    an eerily similar situation unfolded.




    The Giants and Cowboys also met in the final game of the 1993 regular season
    with the NFC East crown on the line. But both teams were 11-4 — not a mediocre
    8-7 — and were going to the playoffs regardless of the outcome. Still, there was
    something to play for: The winner would earn the No. 1 seed and home-field
    advantage. The loser would be the fourth seed and had to go on the road.




    And that proved to be plenty.




    Emmitt Smith, separated shoulder and all, ran for 168 yards and led the
    Cowboys to a 16-13 overtime win. Dallas carried the momentum to the Super Bowl
    where they beat the Bills, while the Giants defeated the Vikings in the
    wild-card round, but were trounced by the 49ers in the divisional round,
    44-3.




    Members of the 1993 Giants still think had they won the game, history would
    be very different.




    “Whichever team won that game, they were headed to the Super Bowl,” said
    Jessie Armstead, who was a rookie linebacker at the time and is currently on the
    Giants coaching staff. “Whoever won that game was going on to the Super Bowl and
    winning it.“




    “If we were playing at home, with the people we had around us, we would’ve
    had a chance to go all the way,” Howard Cross, a tight end on the 1993 team,
    said.




    While Cross said he doesn’t recall how he played that day — for the record,
    he caught three passes for 31 yards — Armstead remembers it well. Armstead
    recalled recovering an onsides kick in the game and knowing Emmitt Smith was
    hurt — and not being able to stop him." Read more...

    GIANTS' GAMEDAY: GIANTS HOST DALLAS

    "Giants (8-7) vs. Dallas
    Cowboys (8-7)



    Week 15
    Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
    MetLife Stadium, East
    Rutherford
    TV: Channel 4
    Radio: WFAN 660-AM




    THIS WEEK’S GAME REVOLVES AROUND
    ...

    The Cowboys' run game




    The best way to keep a pass rush honest and also off your quarterback is to
    keep the defense off balance with an effective rushing attack. Tony Romo’s
    bruised right hand only adds to the significance. He will likely be battling
    pain in his throwing hand all night, which could hinder a normally potent pass
    game and force the Cowboys to rely on Felix Jones, who has been hampered by a
    hamstring injury since replacing starter DeMarco Murray. Knowing the game was
    meaningless, the Cowboys limited Jones’ carries last week to just four. But
    regardless, the ineffective run game against the Philadelphia Eagles, with Sammy
    Morris taking the bulk of the carries, is not a good sign entering tonight. Last
    week the Jets got away from running the ball against the Giants — the result?
    Sixty-four pass plays, five sacks, and just 14 points. The Cowboys need to
    establish some sort of effective run game to keep the Giants pass rush, which
    will include Osi Umenyiora for the first time in a month, off Romo and keep
    their season alive.




    THE SAVVY FAN IS WATCHING …
    How Osi
    Umenyiora will be integrated




    The Giants defensive front underwent a rejuvenation last week against the
    Jets and will get a boost with the
    addition of All-Pro Umenyiora
    , who has been out with a high-ankle sprain for
    over a month. If anything, it’s an embarrassment of riches for defensive
    coordinator Perry Fewell, who has to manage playing time for not only Umenyiora,
    but the team’s two other elite pass rushers: Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck.
    Expect Tuck and Pierre-Paul to move to the inside on occasion to have all three
    on the field at the same time.




    PAST MEETINGS
    10. Sept. 9, 2007 at Dallas:
    Cowboys 45, Giants 35
    9. Nov. 11, 2007: Cowboys 31, Giants 20
    8. Jan. 13,
    2008 at Dallas (NFC Divisional Playoff): Giants 21, Cowboys 17
    7. Nov. 2,
    2008: Giants 35, Cowboys 14
    6. Dec. 14, 2008 at Dallas: Cowboys 20, Giants
    8
    5. Sept. 20, 2009 at Dallas: Giants 33, Cowboys 31
    4. Dec. 6, 2009:
    Giants 31, Cowboys 24
    3. Oct. 25, 2010 at Dallas: Giants 41, Cowboys,
    35
    2. Nov. 14, 2010: Cowboys 33, Giants 20
    1. Dec. 11, 2011 at Dallas:
    Giants 37, Cowboys 34




    Remember when ...
    The Giants and Cowboys last played in
    the final game of the regular season for the NFC East title? It wasn’t a
    do-or-die game like tonight is, but back on Jan. 2, 1994 both teams came into
    the finale at Giants Stadium with identical 11-4 records and the division at
    stake. Behind Emmitt Smith, who rushed for 168 yards despite suffering a
    separated shoulder, the Cowboys won, 16-13, in overtime, earning the division
    crown and the top-seed in the NFC on the way to a Super Bowl victory. The Giants
    advanced to the postseason as the four-seed and after defeating the Vikings in
    the wild-card round, they were trounced by the 49ers, 44-3, in the Divisional
    round.

    WHAT THE COWBOYS DON’T WANT THE GIANTS TO
    KNOW



    1. Even if Tony Romo’s hand is just bruised, it will have an
    effect

    The Cowboys have maintained that Romo suffered only a bruised
    right hand when it nailed Jason Babin’s helmet on his second throw in the loss a
    week ago yesteray against the Eagles. But the hand was badly swollen, and Romo
    didn’t return to the game — though it turned out to be meaningless anyway — and
    it could very well be worse than the Cowboys are letting on. Either way, the
    injury should have an impact tonight in what will be a chilly night in the
    Meadowlands. Romo was limited in practice all week and wore a black glove for
    much of it, though he said he won’t wear a glove tonight. He’ll try to gut
    through what is sure to be discomfort on every throw, but don’t expect him to
    air it out like he did against the Giants three
    weeks ago in Dallas.




    2. Pass protection has been an issue as of late
    After
    allowing just 20 sacks in their first 11 games, the Cowboys have not been able
    to protect the quarterback with as much success. Since then, they’ve allowed 13
    sacks in four games, including three against the Giants in their first meeting.
    Last week, the Giants defensive front had perhaps its best performance of the
    season, recording five sacks against the Jets. With Osi Umenyiora, who missed
    the past four games including the first meeting between these two teams, back in
    a rotation that also includes Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, Tony Romo will
    be facing heat from all angles.




    3. The Cowboys preyed on bad teams this season
    The
    Cowboys are 8-7, but they didn’t get there by beating other teams with records
    over .500. They have not beaten a team with a winning record since defeating the
    Bills in Week 10, and even Buffalo was in the midst of a freefall that included
    seven consecutive losses. The Cowboys’ only win over a team currently over .500?
    An overtime victory against the 49ers in Week 2. The Cowboys have eight wins
    against seven opponents — they beat the 5-10 Redskins twice — and those seven
    teams are combined 40-64. On the other hand, the opponents in their seven losses
    are a combined 53-38, including the Giants’ 8-7 record.



    POSITION BREAKDOWNS




    Quarterback
    Tony Romo has better stats and Eli Manning
    has struggled the past two weeks, but Manning won the first meeting, and Romo is
    dealing with a hand injury.
    Edge: Giants




    Running back
    The Giants run game has undergone a
    resurgence in recent weeks, while Dallas lost DeMarco Murray for the season and
    Felix Jones has been hampered by a hamstring
    injury.
    Edge: Giants




    Wide receiver/Tight End
    The Giants will be without Jake
    Ballard (knee) and Hakeem Nicks (hamstring) and Mario Manningham (knee) may be
    slowed by injury.
    Edge: Cowboys




    Offensive line
    The Giants line has played better as of
    late, but like the Cowboys’ unit, it has been inconsistent all season.

    Edge: Even




    Defensive line
    The Giants’ pass rush was out in full
    force last week led by Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck. Adding Osi Umenyiora
    to the mix will only help.
    Edge: Giants




    Linebackers
    DeMarcus Ware is one of the league’s elite
    pass rushers, and he is surrounded by a solid supporting cast including Anthony
    Spencer and Sean Lee.
    Edge: Cowboys




    Secondary
    Both units were woeful in the first meeting,
    allowing Manning and Romo to put up huge numbers. Can either play any
    worse?
    Edge: Even




    Special teams
    Steve Weatherford has been one of the
    league’s top punters, but Dallas has been better on field goals and in the
    return game.
    Edge: Cowboys



    FOUR DOWNS WITH ...
    Defensive end Dave
    Tollefson




    1. How was it to see the defense come together and have perhaps its
    best game of the season last week?

    It felt good, man. It won’t be
    nothing if we don’t do it again, though. One more week, and then you just keep
    doing it one more week after that. But it was great. You just hope you can build
    off that. I think we had a little bit of that earlier in the season, and then
    you get lost in the middle and try to regain it.




    2. Has defensive coordinator Perry Fewell been more creative in
    trying to generate a pass rush?

    We’re lucky to have a group of guys
    up front — tackles and ends — that can do a lot of different things, and Perry
    has taken advantage of that. It wasn’t just last week — he’s been trying to do
    that all season. We just executed well last week up front.




    3. How big is it to have a player like Osi Umenyiora back in the mix?
    And how will you guys integrate him?

    It’s huge. I was joking around
    yesterday, it’s not like we had to have a tryout and sign some guy off the
    street. We got an All-Pro, a Pro Bowler, an all-everything, so it’s exciting,
    and he looks great. We’ll definitely find a spot for him. That won’t be
    problem.




    4. Do you feel like everything is clicking at the right time given
    last week’s performance and Umenyiora’s return?

    You just hope that
    if any time of the year is good to get the ball rolling on your side, it’s now.
    We just got to keep executing on defense and relying on each other and just keep
    the momentum in our favor. You feel alright after last week, but you got to wait
    until Sunday night and we’ll see again.




    ONE MORE THING ...




    Tonight will be the fourth time the Cowboys have played on Sunday night this
    season. So far, they are 0-3 with losses to the Jets, Eagles and Giants, who are
    1-1 in such games."

    AS GIANTS PREP FOR DALLAS, WR VICTOR CRUZ DRAWS UNPRECEDENTED ATTENTION

    Excerpt: "As the Giants’ offense came to the
    line late in the game against the Dallas Cowboys three weeks ago, Kevin Gilbride
    noticed it: Two Dallas defensive backs lined up over Victor Cruz in the
    slot.


    Gilbride said we’d know Cruz had arrived when he faced his first double team.
    There it was, 12 weeks after his two-touchdown performance against the
    Philadelphia Eagles proved he was more than a preseason sensation.




    Cowboys cornerbacks Orlando Scandrick and Frank Walker were closer than the
    average “vise” — 3 to 4 yards off Cruz, as opposed to the 4- to 5-yard distance
    of most “inside-outside” double teams.




    “Okay, they’re just playing a real draconian, severe kind of double,”
    Gilbride thought.




    Except Dallas was still in a “two-high” defense, meaning the safety was
    behind the double team. Even if Cruz ran through the coverage, he’d still have
    another defender to beat.




    Something odd was happening. And even Gilbride, an offensive coordinator with
    five NFL teams, didn’t know what it was. As the game wore on, the defenders got
    closer, closer and closer still, until they were right over Cruz’s nose during
    the Giants’ winning drive.




    Cruz was being doubled all right, unlike any Gilbride-coached receiver
    before.




    “He was a gunner,” Gilbride said of Cruz, referring to the outside players on
    a punt team who must often beat two aggressive players lined up over them. “I
    had never seen that. Twenty-three years (in the league), I’d never seen that
    before.”




    Cruz has come a long way since his three-touchdown performance against the Jets in a 2010 preseason game. The former
    undrafted free agent has broken the Giants’ single-season record with 1,358
    yards, established a new record with his 99-yard touchdown against the Jets and
    was considered by many to have been snubbed when he was left off the Pro Bowl
    roster last week.




    Cruz’s increased success has been due to many things, including a better
    understanding of the concepts in Gilbride’s offense. But as the Cowboys showed a
    few weeks ago and will likely display again in Sunday night’s matchup at MetLife
    Stadium to determine the NFC East champion, it all begins with Cruz’s releases
    off the line — a skill that comes naturally to him and one in which he has
    excelled from day one.



    For some, defending against it has become a two-man job.




    “It’s pretty crazy, especially when I first saw it. My mouth dropped,” Cruz
    said. “I was talking to them, like, ‘Really? Two of you? Why’d coach put two of
    you over here?’?”




    Because one apparently isn’t enough for the quick, shifty 6-foot,
    204-pounder.




    “Mostly it’s instinct and some God-given ability to move laterally and not
    let guys get their hands on me as quick as they want to,” Cruz said when asked
    about his releases. “It’s something I work on and then, on top of that, working
    on it in practice and working on it with (wide receivers coach Sean Ryan),
    listening to his pointers and what he tells us to do. All of that kind of mixed
    in makes for successful techniques.”




    Cruz credits Ryan, as well as some offseason stretching and strengthening
    exercises, but perhaps he should thank his grandmother, who taught him to dance.
    Like an end-zone salsa, moving quickly to avoid a defender at the line is “in
    the hips.”




    Maybe that’s where Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Allen should’ve had his
    eyes when the former Giant was beaten badly off the line by Cruz on a 25-yard
    winning touchdown earlier this season.




    “I kind of faked inside, went back outside and then back inside, and he spun
    around,” Cruz said. “That was probably one of my better releases.”




    There are countless others, including those the public never gets to see
    because they happen in practice. Former Rutgers cornerback Brandon Bing, a
    member of the Giants practice squad, often gets the best view when he covers
    Cruz. Lateral movement is one thing, but what impresses Bing the most is the way
    Cruz can juke sideways while also moving forward.




    “You may think he’s coming straight at you, and then he goes left and right,”
    Bing said. “He’s just good at coming off the ball, period.”




    Cruz has learned his excellent releases make things easier for him.




    For example, on a run away from him, he can juke to make a defender think
    he’s getting into his route. That’s a lot simpler than having to block the guy.
    And when it’s a play-action fake, he can lull a defender with a similar-looking
    move before blowing by him.




    Sometimes, corners and defensive coaches forgo the jam to play “off”
    coverage. That doesn’t always work well, either.




    Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson gave Cruz room to operate on third-and-10 from
    the Giants’ 1-yard line. The Jets learned that was a big mistake after Cruz
    easily got into his route and then forced Wilson, Antonio Cromartie and Eric
    Smith to miss on his way to the 14th 99-yard
    play in NFL history.




    “I was looking for a first down,” Gilbride said with a laugh.




    With Cruz, there’s always a chance for more. He has the Giants’ three longest
    receptions of the season (99, 74 and 72 yards, plus a 68-yarder that ties him
    for fourth as well) and has 21 catches of 20 yards or more — five more than
    Hakeem Nicks." Read more...

    NY DAILY NEWS

    GIANTS CAN MAKE YEAR, PLAYOFFS WITH WIN TONIGHT AGAINST COWBOYS

    Excerpt: "
    As the Giants walk from the players’ parking lot and pass the paintings on
    the wall of the three Super Bowl trophies right outside their locker room, the
    passion will start to build. By the time they see the famed blue metallic star
    on the Cowboys helmet for the first time Sunday night, the intensity will be off
    the charts.



    What more could you ask for in the final game of the season? The Giants vs.
    the Cowboys in a winner-take-all for the NFC East championship. Eli
    Manning
    vs. Tony Romo. Tom
    Coughlin
    vs. Jerry Jones, oops, Jason Garrett. The
    Giants’ three Super Bowl trophies vs. the Cowboys’ five Lombardis. New York
    strip steak and pizza vs. chicken fried steak and nachos.




    This is the Giants’ biggest game since Super Bowl XLII.




    “This is a playoff game for us. Hopefully we get another playoff game after
    this one,” Justin Tuck said. “I’m
    excited about it. I know this entire team is. Considering the adversity we have
    had to climb out of this year, I think we are poised to make a run.”




    The winner earns a home playoff game next weekend against either the Lions or
    Falcons. The loser goes home. If that’s the Giants, then Coughlin’s future
    becomes an issue.




    It hardly matters now that the Giants and Cowboys have struggled to get to
    8-7 and that this will be the first NFC East champion not to win at least 10
    games.




    All that matters is it’s Big Blue vs. the ’Boys with enough history and venom
    — Tuck just hates the ’Boys and says so every time they play — to make this a
    classic game.




    “It’s going to be rocking in the locker room and on the field,” linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka
    said. “Exciting, electric and the epitome of the NFL. We still have all of our
    goals right ahead of us. We can do it. Everybody feels the same way. Our goal is
    very much within our grasp and all we got to do is go take it.”




    The Giants have often appeared complacent at home this season as they’ve lost
    four of their seven games at MetLife Stadium, but they desperately need to make
    the $1.7 billion building a nightmare for Dallas. The Cowboys opened the season
    at MetLife losing to the Jets by blowing a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter.
    Now the Giants want to make sure the Cowboys season ends here,
    too." Read more...

    NEW YORK GIANTS' MANTRA: NO TIME FOR LOSERS SUNDAY NIGHT AGAINST DALLAS COWBOYS

    "This always seemed inevitable, right from the moment the NFL released the
    schedule in April. When they put the Giants and the Cowboys together on the
    final day of the regular season, somehow, some way, it was destined to come down
    to this.



    “I had a feeling that’s what they were preparing for,” said Giants linebacker
    Mathias Kiwanuka.
    “To be able to play at home, last game of the regular season against a
    divisional opponent and have everything on the line and it’s not just that one
    team could possibly knock off the other. It’s us or them.




    “That’s one of the biggest stages for the regular season that you can have.
    This is the big one.”




    Indeed it is. The final regular-season game of the 2011 season is the biggest
    regular-season game in franchise history. When the Giants take on the Cowboys
    Sunday night, it will be a playoff-like atmosphere. The winner takes the NFC
    East title and a home playoff game in the first round.




    The loser gets a long winter possibly one filled with radical changes to
    ponder what went wrong.




    “You just have to win,” Tom Coughlin said.
    “There’s no margin for error in something like this.”




    “This is what you live and die for if you’re a football player,” savbraid running back Brandon
    Jacobs
    , “to be in a situation like this.”




    The fact that the Giants are in this situation is remarkable. Their
    impressive 6-2 start evaporated into a near disaster with just two wins in their
    next seven games. That included a four-game losing streak that started their
    second-half collapse. The Giants then had to bail themselves out on Dec. 11 in
    Dallas, when they mounted a furious rally to beat the Cowboys, 37-34.




    That win saved their season. Then two weeks later they had to save it again,
    with a 29-14 triumph against the Jets on Christmas Eve. Had the Giants lost that
    game they could have already been eliminated from contention.




    Instead they are staring at another opportunity, desperate not to it throw
    away.




    “It didn’t have to be this way,” said safety Antrel Rolle. “I think
    we definitely could’ve made things a little easier on ourselves. But everyone
    says the Giants fight hard when their backs are against the wall. You can’t get
    any more back there than we are right now.
    “May the best man win. Lose, go
    home. No one remembers second place.”




    Actually, the loser could slip all the way to third place behind the
    once-lauded “Dream Team” if the Eagles beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday
    afternoon. But the point is still the same. The loser will fade into an
    offseason of despair the jobs of both Coughlin and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, in
    fact, could be in jeopardy if they lose while the winner will have a chance to
    put together an unlikely Super Bowl run.




    It’s been a long time since the Giants had that chance a fact which could
    weigh heavily on Giants’ ownership if they’re forced to decide Coughlin’s fate
    after a loss. They haven’t been to the playoffs since 2008 when they lost their
    postseason opener at home despite being the NFC’s top seed.




    The drought “seems like a lot longer than it actually has been,” said
    defensive end Justin Tuck. It’s felt
    like ages to a franchise whose last playoff win came in Super Bowl XLII. After
    winning two of their last three games, though, and getting a boost from the
    return of a few injured players most notably defensive end Osi
    Umenyiora
    , who should see at least limited action on Sunday night they don’t
    feel like a team clinging to an unlikely playoff berth.




    They feel like a team that has earned the right to be in control of their
    fate.




    “The last couple of weeks some things are starting to turn our way,” Tuck
    said. “We’re getting a little bit healthier, we’re focusing better, and it just
    seems like we’re playing as one. At this time of the year those are some key
    attributes.




    “Considering the adversity we have had to climb out of this year, I think
    we’re poised to make a run.”




    For the Giants to do that, they’ll have to reverse a defensive performance
    that cornerback Aaron
    Ross
    admitted was “really embarrassing” in their last meeting with the
    Cowboys. They allowed Dallas quarterback Tony Romo to
    throw for 321 yards and four touchdowns something that might be a little more
    difficult on Sunday night with his injured right hand. They were much better in
    the win over the Jets, though, boosting their confidence to the point that
    Kiwanuka said “If we play a complete game from beginning to end, we’ll pitch a
    shutout.”




    It’s a lofty goal against the NFL’s ninth-ranked offense and a quarterback
    who hasn’t thrown an interception in seven of his last eight games.




    “We’re extremely confident,” Rolle said. “I think we’ve proven ourselves last
    week what kind of defense we can be if we put our minds together.”




    To win the East, they’ll need to put together more than just their minds. A
    game like this goes beyond strategy and toughness and physical skills.




    “You have to play this game with extreme emotion, extreme passion,” said
    defensive tackle Chris Canty. “The Xs
    and Os are important, but you’ve got to play from the heart. This time of year
    you’ve got to play from the heart.”




    The Cowboys and Giants usually do when they get together. And that’s probably
    exactly what the schedule-makers had in mind."

    NY POST

    GIANTS FACE COWBOYS IN BATTLE FOR NFC EAST TONIGHT

    Excerpt: "As soon as it became apparent what the stakes would be, Mathias Kiwanuka knew this game had to be flexed
    to the evening, given a national spotlight.



    “It’s the big one, this is the one people want to see, for good reason,’’ the
    Giants linebacker said. “To be able to play at home, against a divisional
    opponent that is a rival and hated as much and have everything on the line, it’s
    us or them, that’s one of the biggest stages in the regular season.’’




    The NFL saved the best for last in the final regular-season game of the 2011
    season. No, the Giants and Cowboys, both 8-7, are not the best the league has to
    offer, not by a long-shot, but that’s a debate for another day. The winner
    claims the NFC East title, gets the No. 4 seed in the NFC and a home playoff
    game next weekend. The loser is 8-8 and packs it up, a very unhappy New Year.
    The Giants tonight will distribute white towels emblazoned with their new slogan
    – “All In!’’ – for what is the most significant game in the two-year history of
    MetLife Stadium. It is also, according to the Giants, the first regular-season
    finale in their 87-year franchise history with clear-cut win-and-in,
    lose-and-out playoff ramifications.




    “I hear from older guys all the time, playoffs are hard to come by so when
    you get the opportunity, take full advantage of it,’’ receiver Hakeem Nicks said.




    Any playoff-elimination bout is high drama but that it’s the despised, rival
    Cowboys standing in the way of the Giants adds spice to an already savory
    mixture. Losing to the Jets last week would have pained the Giants. Getting
    ousted by the Cowboys, in the Giants home, would be an unbearable indignity.




    “It’s going to be a battle,’’ defensive tackle (and former Cowboy) Chris Canty said. “You have to play
    the game with extreme emotion, extreme passion. The Xs and Os are important but
    you have got to play from the heart. This time of year you have got to play from
    the heart.’’




    The Giants are hoping home is where the heart is.




    A look inside the game:




    BEST BATTLE




    Cowboys NT Jay Ratliff vs. Giants C David Baas. One of the main reasons why
    the Cowboys are seventh in the league in run defense (allowing 98.6 yards per
    game) is the sturdy work inside by Ratliff, who this week was selected to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time. Baas,
    completing an injury-filled and disappointing first year with the Giants,
    returned last week after missing three games with a neck injury and looked rusty
    before settling in.




    HAND IT TO TONY




    All eyes will be on the bruised right hand of Tony Romo, attempting to detect
    any sign that he’s not gripping the ball or throwing it with his usual gusto.
    Three weeks ago, Romo had no difficulty shredding the Giants’ shaky secondary
    for four touchdown passes in a 37-34 Giants victory and he’s actually had an
    under-the-radar great season (29 TDs, nine interceptions). As the Giants know
    all-too-well, Romo is most dangerous when he’s improvising." Read more...

    COUGHLIN HAS GIANTS HUNGRY FOR JUICIEST STAKES

    Excerpt: "You dreamed of a night like this one when you were a young boy, standing side
    by side with your NFL teammates inside an electrified stadium ringed with your
    fans, waving white towels with “All In!” emblazoned on them.



    You couldn’t have known that you would grow up to be a New York Giant,
    defending your stadium and your storied franchise from the hated Cowboys, but
    here you are tonight, with this priceless chance to leave a footprint and usher
    in a happening that will feel like Times Square on New Year’s Eve all over
    again, only this time the raucous, love-stricken chorus will be singing “Auld
    Lang Syne” to Tony Romo and Jerry Jones close to midnight when
    the Game of The Year ends.





    “You ask, what is our aim? I can answer with one word: victory — victory at
    all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the
    road may be; for without victory there is no survival.”




    That was Winston Churchill
    in 1940.




    It was also Tom Coughlin on
    Friday, quoting Churchill to his Giants.




    UPDATES FROM
    OUR GIANTS BLOG




    Do-or-die in war, Blue-or-die in football.




    Two hated rivals, one division title, only one playoff berth available.




    Sixty final, desperate minutes to decide whether Eli Manning and the Giants are back in the playoffs
    for the first time in three years or an 8-8 fraud paralyzed by the occasion.




    If ever there were a night for Manning to turn back the clock to Super Bowl
    XLII — or to the first Dallas game — it is this one. If ever there was a night
    for Jason Pierre-Paul to be
    Lawrence Taylor — or JPP in the first Dallas game — it is this one. If ever
    there were a night for Justin Tuck
    to be Michael Strahan, it is this one.




    There are Coughlin slogans sprinkled all over the Timex Performance
    Center:




    If You Can Not Find It In Yourself, Where Will You Go For It?




    A Goal Is Only As Worthy As The Effort That Is Required To Achieve It.




    Big Blue Warrior Creed: Keep Your Eye On The Prize, No Challenge Is Too
    Difficult, No Sacrifice Or Self-Denial Too Great, Team First!




    “I Am A Fighter, I Fight Where I Am Told, And I Win Where I Fight.”




    — George Patton" Read more...

    GIANTS-COWBOYS MATCHUPS

    "When the Giants schedule was announced in April, it did not take long to scan
    the list of ames, spot the NewYear’s Day meeting with the Cowboys in the
    regular- season finale and think this: No way that game doesn’t mean something
    to someone involved.



    As it turns out, it means everything to all involved.




    Given the strengths and weaknesses of the NFC East rivals, the expectation is
    high for another tight, tense, high-scoring affair, similar to the first time
    the teams tangled. It took a near-miracle, Eli Manning-inspired comeback from a
    12-point late-fourth-quarter deficit threeweeks agofor the Giants to escape
    Dallas with a 37-34 victory, not secured until Jason Pierre-Paul blocked a
    potential overtime-forcing field goal in the final second.

    A repeat could be in the works in the high-stakes rematch, with first place
    in the NFC East and a playoff berth on the line.




    A look inside the matchups:




    GIANTS PASS OFFENSE vs. COWBOYS PASS DEFENSE




    This was no contest three weeks ago, with Eli Manning throwing for 400 yards
    and experiencing no problem finding Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and Victor
    Cruz downfield. CB Terence Newman has four interceptions, but isn’t much of a
    ball-hawk and is not the player he once was. CB Mike Jenkins can be a force, but
    he hasn’t been completely healthy. Cowboys give up a ton of big plays and
    safeties can be exploited, just as long as Manning can avoid the hot breath of
    LB DeMarcus Ware (181/2 sacks) on his neck. TE Jake Ballard came up huge in
    first meeting, but he’s out and his absence will be felt here, unless Bear
    Pascoe or Travis Beckum pulls a surprise. Manning has not been sharp the past
    two games and must prove he’s not fading down the stretch. Nicks (hamstring) and
    Manningham (knee) both hobbled a bit, putting onus on Cruz to get deep, though
    Manningham always gives the Cowboys fits. Edge: Giants.




    GIANTS RUN OFFENSE vs. COWBOYS RUN DEFENSE




    The night of Dec. 11 was Brandon Jacobs’ finest moment of this season as he
    rushed for 101 yards and two TDs inside Cowboys Stadium. It took a while for
    Ahmad Bradshaw and the ground game to get going last week against the Jets and
    return of C David Baas was not an immediate success. Still haven’t seen vintage
    Bradshaw-Jacobs 1-2 punch, a big reason why Giants are last in the NFL in
    rushing. Keys will be how healthy active LB Sean Lee is and if Baas can move Pro
    Bowl NT Jay Ratliff off the mark. Cowboys often give Giants trouble with their
    multiple fronts, leading to bunch of negative-yardage plays. LBs Bradie James
    and Keith Brooking can be out-muscled. Edge: Cowboys.

    COWBOYS PASS OFFENSE vs. GIANTS PASS DEFENSE





    The status of Tony Romo’s bruised right hand figures to be revealed as soon
    as he unloads his first pass. Romo fired four TDs and no interceptions three
    weeks ago, finding huge gaps and glaring gaffes in Giants secondary. Dangerous
    possession TE Jason Witten was held in check last time around, but Laurent
    Robinson and Miles Austin were tough to deal with and Dez Bryant is a big play
    waiting to happen. Giants come up one short in coverage with either S Deon Grant
    or struggling rookie Prince Amukamara. The defensive backfield has cleaned up
    some of the bonehead breakdowns, but CBs Corey Webster and Aaron Ross are going
    to have to get jams in at the line and give pass rush an extra second or two.
    Romo has evolved into a low-mistake passer and is remarkably clever in the
    pocket. LT Doug Free couldn’t handle DE Jason Pierre-Paul in the first meeting,
    and if JPP moves inside to get Osi Umenyiora on the field he could exploit shaky
    C Phil Costa. Edge: Cowboys."

    GIANTS MUST CONTAIN DE WARE

    Excerpt: "Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware
    comes into tonight’s game against the Giants with only 18 sacks — “only’’
    when you consider he’s played much of the way with a neck stinger and he’s
    cooled off considerably in the second half of the season.



    Ware had 12 sacks in the first seven games for the Cowboys, putting him on
    pace for 27 sacks, which would have easily broken Michael Strahan’s
    single-season NFL record of 22 1/2 sacks. Ware has six sacks in his last eight
    games and he didn’t drop Eli Manning
    even once three weeks ago, thanks mainly to the work of David Diehl at left tackle.

    “They want to try to confuse you, they want to try to create mismatches, it
    is a very big point, one of the first things you do, you do want to find out
    where No. 94 [Ware] is,’’ Diehl said. “You don’t want him one-on-one with a
    tight end or running backs, you want to put your big guy on him. They do
    different things with him, moving him and [Anthony] Spencer around, trying to
    create confusion and trying to create running lanes for those guys to apply
    pressure on the quarterback.’’




    Diehl through the years has done a decent job with Ware, who at times will
    shift over to the other side and try his luck avoiding right tackle Kareem
    McKenzie. In 14 games against the Giants, Ware has 10 sacks.




    * This is the 100th meeting of the Giants-Cowboys series and the 99th time
    these franchises are squaring off in the regular season. The Cowboys lead the
    series 56-41-2, and the Giants are 1-0 in the postseason.




    * Tony Romo’s record as a starting quarterback is 19-2 in
    November and only 8-13 in December, proving he fades late in the season. Oh, in
    January he’s 1-0.




    After missing the past four game — including the 37-34 victory in Dallas — DE
    Osi Umenyiora returns and should see plenty of action as an
    extra edge rusher when the Cowboys are in passing situations.




    “When you look at what he presents to an offensive tackle it’s a completely
    different scenario than the other guys we have in there,’’ LB Mathias
    Kiwanuka
    said, “We have power guys, we have speed guys, guys who can
    move around throughout the line and give people problems. Just the matchup, the
    adjustment is going to have to make them prepare for another all-pro type
    player.’’

    STEVE SERBY'S Q&A WITH BRANDON JACOBS

    "The Post’s Steve Serby
    caught up with Giants running back Brandon Jacobs to talk about his proudest moments
    on and off the field, tonight’s game against the Cowboys and his future with the
    franchise.





    Describe your mentality on the field.




    I’m a dog. I’m a beast. I take the streets to the football field, that’s what
    I do. I play like I’m trying to stay out of jail, like I’m fighting for my life.
    I go out there and I play with a dog mentality, an assassin’s mentality,
    basically.




    Do you expect all your Giants teammates to play that way
    tonight?




    I definitely expect all my teammates to show up with that mentality, even if
    that’s not your mentality, no question.

    You look inside your teammates’ eyes before every game.





    To make sure their pupils aren’t dilating. The window of a man’s soul is
    straight through his eyes. When some fighters are nervous, their pupils dilate
    really a lot. I’ve seen dilated pupils in some people’s eyes. It doesn’t take
    long to see.





    And when you see it?




    That’s one person I have to have a lot of enthusiasm with and make sure I get
    him up out of his nervousness.




    And how do you do that?




    Go out there and do the best I can to knock somebody on their a-- and set a
    tone. It’s going to be like this all night. Join me.




    What are the favorite moments of your Giants career?




    I’d say the first one would have to be breaking the touchdown record for the
    franchise [on Dec. 11 against the Cowboys]. ... The 74-yard touchdown versus
    Dallas two years ago. ... And running over LaRon Landry in the open field.




    If you win tonight, where would that rank?




    It’ll rank really high, mainly because of what’s at stake and who it is we’re
    playing.




    How would you want MetLife Stadium to be tonight?




    I want it to be very, very crazy. I want it to be bananas. The loudest thing
    I’ve ever heard in my life.




    Does your 4-year-old son Brayden get a kick that you’re No. 27 of the
    New York Giants?




    No, he doesn’t care about that at all. He knows what I do. He knows my
    number. He’s just a normal kid.




    Is he more similar to you or your wife (Kim)?




    He’s more similar to my wife. He looks like her. He’s real nice. He has no
    bad bones in his body, very respectful kid. He’s a great kid. He’s definitely my
    favorite 4-year-old in the whole wide world. I get a thrill even thinking about
    it. He’s just big like me.




    How big is he?




    65, 70 pounds.




    Is your younger son (Quinn) more like you?




    Yeah, he’s definitely like me, mean, got a temper, doesn’t really care about
    too much. What he wants is what he wants.




    How has fatherhood changed you?




    Some decisions I would have made without kids, I would never make them
    now.




    Why did you and Plaxico
    Burress
    click?




    We’re two of the same kind of people, to be honest. We had it rough growing
    up. He is somebody I understand. Not a lot of people understand him. And vice
    versa: Not a lot of people understand me. He understands me. We just became
    close. He’s a good-natured cat, you know? And you can’t find too many cats like
    that.




    Your running backs coach, Jerald Ingram, has been showing clips of
    some of the old-time greats. What did you observe about Jim Brown?





    I just watched how tough he was, how hard he ran. He didn’t care who was in
    his way




    Is that the way you run?




    Yeah, I don’t care who’s there, I just keep going.




    Who else have you watched?




    O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell, Gale Sayers.




    Who in your family was the most proud that you just received your
    sociology degree from Fairleigh ****inson?




    I’d say my wife was definitely the proudest person in the world. She has two
    degrees. She was happy I stayed with it.




    Why did it mean so much to you?




    I was the first person in my family to have one.




    Did your wife encourage you?




    It was definitely something I wanted to do for the sake of our kids to say I
    have one. But sometimes she would have to push me to finish it.




    What was it like when you brought the diploma home?




    My mom, everybody there was yelling and screaming all over the place. It was
    a good time. With it being the holidays, it was extra special.




    Did your mom want you to play football?




    She didn’t care what I did. She wanted to make sure I did the right
    thing.




    There was a lot of crime in Napoleonville, La. Did sports save
    you?




    No question, sports definitely saved me. I had a lot of opportunities to go
    in a different direction.




    Sum up what it’s been like being a New York Giant.




    It’s been one of the most exciting highlights of my life. It gave me an
    opportunity to do what I love to do, and it’s a great organization. I can’t say
    enough good stuff about the Mara family and the Tisch family. I got a chance to
    be close to both families.




    Did you meet Wellington Mara?




    I got a chance to meet him once. I went up to him and introduced myself to
    him. It was an honor to have a chance to meet a person with such a strong
    appearance. He did a lot for the National Football League, not to mention the New York Giants organization.




    Are you hopeful you can continue your Giants career?




    Yes, if I can continue my career as a Giant, that would be another highlight.
    If not, I understand the business.




    Why do you want to stay with this franchise?




    It’s where I started. I like it here. My wife likes it here. My kids are
    settling in good. It’s a great organization to play for. It’s people that
    respect you and care about you as a person. The whole nine.




    Do you have a gut feeling what might happen?




    No, I don’t have any.




    But your teammates are optimistic. What do they tell you?




    “You’re straight. You’re going to be here.” They seem sure. But you never
    know. I tell them, “Time will tell.”

    Jason Pierre-Paul?





    He’s a beast. He can be so much better than he is now. He can get faster, he
    can get stronger, even more of a ferocious attitude. He could be a monster no
    one in the National Football League has ever seen before.




    The key to the Cowboys game tonight.




    We need to run the ball. That’s exactly what we need.




    Can you envision a scenario tonight where you do not walk off the
    field a winner?




    Not at all. I don’t see one scenario. I know they’re going to bring
    everything they got. I think we’re going to do the same thing. I think our guys
    want it more. I think we got just what it takes to go out and get the job
    done."

    COWBOYS' RYAN BRINGS FAMILY TO SEE "WHEN WE WIN THE EAST"

    "The family of Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is already in New York
    to do some sightseeing before Sunday's NFC East showdown game with the
    Giants.



    Ryan left no doubt that the biggest sight to see will be at MetLife
    Stadium.




    “I want them to be there when we win the East, and I’ll probably steal a
    couple of [championship] T-shirts and make sure they get them, because that’s
    what we’re there for,” Ryan said Friday at the Cowboys practice facility.




    Ryan is the fraternal twin brother of Jets head coach Rex Ryan. The Ryans
    share a certain bravado in addition to DNA as Rob Ryan all but guaranteed a
    victory for his family.




    “I know they’re going to see the Empire State Building, probably see their
    Uncle Rex and Cousin Matthew [Russo, a retired FDNY fire marshal],” Ryan said.
    “But they’re there to watch their dad become a champion, again. So that’s what
    we’re going to do.”

    THE BERGEN RECORD

    GIANTS-COWBOYS MATCHUP

    "What's at stake?


    Giants: The NFC East. Their first playoff berth since 2008. Their season. The
    winner takes all in a game that will validate one team's campaign and ruin the
    other's. The Giants enter confident — especially on defense — but banged up with
    three of their top four receivers ailing. WRs Hakeem Nicks (hamstring) and Mario
    Manningham (knee) are hobbled and TE Jake Ballard (partial tear of the PCL in
    his knee) is out for a suddenly struggling Eli Manning (47.8 completion
    percentage, one TD, four INTs in the past two games). But the defense will have
    DE Osi Umenyiora back after he missed the past four games. The Giants took Round
    1 against Dallas three weeks ago, sneaking out of Cowboys Stadium with a 37-34
    victory, but their secondary was shredded for 321 yards and four TDs. They
    rebounded last week against the Jets, but need to perform against Jason Witten,
    Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Laurent Robinson.




    Cowboys: The NFC East. Their first playoff berth since 2009. Their season. QB
    Tony Romo will play despite a bruised throwing hand. And RB Felix Jones — who
    ran for 106 yards on 16 carries in the first meeting — has been slowed by a
    hamstring issue. Romo's talented receivers again have to exploit the fissures in
    the Giants' secondary. But the offensive line — without LG Montrae Holland (torn
    biceps) — will have to open holes and keep the pass rush away from Romo. Derrick
    Dockery will fill in for Holland.





    Key matchup




    Giants LT David Diehl vs. Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware




    Ware (18 sacks, tied for second in the NFL) could single-handedly win this
    game for Dallas. Manning already has a battered receiving corps. If he is
    relegated to running for his life, Ware could deliver a knockout blow. But Diehl
    got the better of the pass rusher in their first meeting, holding him to no
    sacks, no quarterback hits and just four tackles.





    How they'll win




    Giants: Manning needs to return to form, and Victor Cruz (76 catches, 1,358
    yards, 8 TDs) needs to show what all the Pro Bowl voters missed and get the
    NFL's fourth-rated passing offense (293.5 yards per game) going. The secondary
    needs to hold its own against the Cowboys' corps of talented receivers and avoid
    the breakdowns that plagued it last time. The Giants could do themselves a huge
    favor by establishing their ground game. Although it still ranks last in the NFL
    (88.1 yards per game), it had another solid game against the Jets. On defense,
    Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck have to pressure and hit Romo,
    disrupting his rhythm.




    Cowboys: Protect Romo. The sore hand only makes him more of a target. The
    Cowboys need to establish the run and to keep the heat off Romo and the ball out
    of Manning's hands. Dallas found Witten only three times for 12 yards last time,
    a peculiarly low number for its leading receiver. On defense, the Cowboys need
    to bottle up the Giants' passing game.




    — Jeff Roberts"

    SULLIVAN: FOLLOWING FOOTSTEPS OF TUCK AND JACOBS GIANTS' BEST PATH TO PLAYOFFS

    "Justin Tuck and Brandon Jacobs represent so much than can be different in a
    football-playing personality. One plays defense, the other offense. One is
    relatively quiet and dignified, the other loud and brash. One is assured of his
    Giants’ future, the other might be playing his last game in a Giants
    uniform.



    Yet of all the voices clattering and clamoring throughout the weeklong
    buildup to the Giants’ winner-take-all regular-season finale tonight against the
    Cowboys, of all the reasons the Giants are in this win-and-in-the-playoffs
    scenario at MetLife Stadium, Tuck and Jacobs rose above the noise. By
    rediscovering the old, dominant football versions of themselves, they helped the
    Giants rediscover a path to the postseason.




    The Giants saved their season with last Saturday's emotional win over the
    Jets, and they were saved by the return of their emotional heartbeat.




    Tuck found a way out of his injury-riddled despair, clearing his mind of
    distraction and thus freeing his body to perform like it used to. His inspiring
    effort against the Jets was infectious and welcome, his constant in-game chatter
    a reminder of the presence he’d always been. Jacobs, too, escaped a funk, one of
    a more personal variety, discarding the frustration of a marginalized role to
    savor instead what he still could do. His bruising running style, reborn in the
    Week 14 win in Dallas, has ignited a resurgent Giants running attack.




    The 2011 season has been rightfully defined by the emerging greatness of the
    Eli Manning-led passing offense, yet it winds down tonight by going back to the
    franchise’s roots. Defense, led by an aggressive pass rush and offense rooted on
    the ground, will be the keys to a Giants win, and Tuck and Jacobs are the keys
    to making both happen.




    “As Tuck goes, we go,” defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. “You saw the
    old Tuck [against the Jets].”




    That old Tuck wasn’t alone – second-year pro
    Jason Pierre-Paul became a
    Pro Bowler while filling in for former All-Pro Osi Umenyiora, and even
    Umenyiora is expected to return from a lingering ankle sprain for this game. But
    while other players can rush the passer like Tuck, very few in Giant blue can
    motivate the team the way he does.




    “Whenever you hear Tuck talking, whenever he’s getting everybody pumped up,
    during games, practice, when you hear him talking, you know it’s going to be a
    good week, that Justin is feeling good and he’s going to be ready to play,”
    receiver Victor Cruz said. “He’s been in a good mood this week.”




    Or as safety Antrel Rolle put it – “Justin is alive again.”




    Tuck opened the window on his tortured season in the immediate aftermath of
    the win over the Jets, crediting a personal visit from coach Tom Coughlin for
    turning his optimism meter back in the right direction. He spoke of wanting to
    honor his eventual Giants legacy, of wanting his 21-month-old child to see him
    play the game the way he was meant to play it. He heard his coach, and then his
    teammates heard him.




    “A lot of people told me that, but you just try your best to be humble about
    it and the gifts God has given to you to play this game. That’s all I try to go
    out there and be,” Tuck said this week. “I don’t get caught up in putting my
    foot in things. Whether it’s true or not, just go out there and try to give your
    all and lay it on the line and be all in. Somehow or another it seems like
    things work out for the best when you do that.”




    Tuck, the team’s defensive captain, will be back next season regardless of
    whether the Giants cash in on tonight’s playoff opportunity. Jacobs has no such
    security, not with an eight-carry-a-game role alongside Ahmad Bradshaw, not with
    a $500,000 roster bonus due in March, not with a personality defined by big mood
    swings and bigger word wars. But like Tuck, he has recently copped to
    understanding how much his stomping, snorting speeches get his teammates pumped
    up for games, how much his intensity can be used to build up rather than tear
    apart.




    “He’s not one to deny any verbiage that he thinks will help, but he’s gone
    out and backed it up, too. You have to give him credit for that,” Coughlin
    said.




    “Brandon’s got a little bit of spunk back in his step, a little bounce back
    in his step. In practice he’s kind of hitting that extra gear that we normally
    like to see him at,” Cruz said. “I think he’s in a good place right now.”




    With the division crown at stake and the playoffs in sight, the Giants like
    where they are, too.




    Football is a cacophonous world, a multi-layered symphony of crashing pads,
    stomping feet, screaming voices and crackling hits. But sometimes, certain
    voices rise above. Even when the people behind them seem to have little in
    common, they can lift a team. From opposite sides of the ball and opposite ends
    of the personality scale, Tuck and Jacobs work in harmony. One quiet and
    reserved, the other brash and outspoken, together, they brought back a team’s
    emotional heartbeat."



    BIG BLUE KNOWS IT WILL TAKE MAXIMUM EFFORT AGAINST COWBOYS



    "Hakeem Nicks has heard the stories.





    He’s been told about the NFL playoffs, about the precious few chances teams
    get to reach them.




    But those stories might as well be legends passed down from his football
    elders. Nicks has never reached the postseason in his three Giants seasons.




    “I hear from older guys all the time that playoffs are hard to come by, so
    when you get the opportunity, take full advantage of it,” said the wide
    receiver.




    That opportunity comes tonight.




    Giants. Cowboys. A national TV audience watching on “Su
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


  3. #3
    All-Pro GameTime's Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2012 - 10:50 A.M.



    Hey....the sub title shoudl have read




    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ONE AND ALL


    IT'S GAME DAY AND IT'S "GAMETIME"




    just sayin'......lol




    Happy New Year Ro.......




    lets get this gamedone and won!!!!!

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

  4. #4
    Veteran poppa smurph's Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2012 - 10:50 A.M.

    Loved the Jacob's interview... if this guy's gone next year, he's going to be missed
    my beer drinking team has a football problem

  5. #5
    Moderator RoanokeFan's Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2012 - 10:50 A.M.

    [quote user="GameTime"]

    Hey....the sub title shoudl have read




    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ONE AND ALL


    IT'S GAME DAY AND IT'S "GAMETIME"




    just sayin'......lol




    Happy New Year Ro.......




    lets get this gamedone and won!!!!!

    [/quote]

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


  6. #6
    Moderator RoanokeFan's Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2012 - 10:50 A.M.

    [quote user="poppa smurph"]Loved the Jacob's interview... if this guy's gone next year, he's going to be missed[/quote]

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


  7. #7

    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2012 - 10:50 A.M.

    Wait, in the position breakdown, it said nicks was out? That's not true, is it?

  8. #8
    Moderator RoanokeFan's Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2012 - 10:50 A.M.

    [quote user="NYGFaninILL"]Wait, in the position breakdown, it said nicks was out? That's not true, is it?[/quote]

    I don't think that's accurate and can't find any other report that says he won't play.
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


  9. #9
    All-Pro GameTime's Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2012 - 10:50 A.M.



    great Jacobs interveiw...




    he got me pumped for tonight. he does say some dumb **** at times but this isnt one of the times....




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

  10. #10

    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2012 - 10:50 A.M.



    Happy New Year everyone!




    thanks much Roanoke!




    we need to start on a 5 game roll to shock the world!







    Go Giants!


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