better team because they got some guys back," said Cowboys inside backer Bradie James.
And that just seemed to irk this defense to no end, that, along with how many times it was pointed out the Giants led the NFL going into the game with 30 sacks. Now maybe you understand why the emotions ran so high there in the first half, James and Kevin Burnett taking 15-yard personal fouls at key junctures of drives to aid two Giants drives worth 10 points.
But in the end, it was the Cowboys with a season-high five sacks of Eli Manning, giving them 26 for the season and upping their 16-game pace to 46, but one short of their last 40-sack season in 1994. It was the Cowboys with six quarterback hurries, eight passes defensed and two interceptions - one of those (Ken Hamlin's) partially thanks to Greg Ellis grazing Eli Manning's hand as he released the pass. And it was the Giants with just one sack (or will be one once Elias reviews the second when Romo tried to run out on a busted play), just two quarterback hurries, one pick and four passes defensed.
For seven games we had suggested this Cowboys defense could only play against the Little Sisters of the Poor quarterbacks since two of the established guys sort of lit them up - Manning threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns in the first game and Tom Brady went for 388 and five touchdowns.
But in the past two weeks, and on the road, mind you, the Cowboys held Philadelphia to just 17 points, including one late, inconsequential fourth-quarter touchdown; and the Giants to 20 points, Manning limited to one touchdown pass this time and only a field goal the second half.
That's got to count for something.
And for sure, so does getting Ellis back in the starting lineup for the past three games; getting Anthony Henry back on the field, even if just in nickel situations, the past two games; getting Terence Newman not only back in the starting lineup the past five games, but in the slot on the nickel defense the past two games.
So do take note.
"We played well, and didn't let their running game overpower us," Phillips said of his defensive guys against the Giants, who came into the game with the NFL's sixth-ranked rushing attack (137.8) but departed with 106 rushing yards and a long of 16.
That means the Cowboys still haven't allowed an opposing running back to go for 100 yards this season. This also means the Cowboys have allowed only one run for more than Peterson's 20 yards this season, that being Derrick Ward's 44-yarder in the season opener. In fact, the Giants' longest play from scrimmage Sunday was the 29-yard pass to Jeremy Shockey to set up that field goal at the end of the half.
"I'll say our team did our talking on the field," Phillips said.
Which makes me wonder: Were you listening?