London, United Kingdom (PressExposure) December 07, 2009 -- The football, this game and maybe even an entire Giants season settled in Domenik Hixonâs hands as he fielded the booming Dallas punt at his teamâs 21.
This was late in the fourth quarter Sunday, and the Giants held a fragile 7-point lead against a bitter rival. After losing five of their previous six games, would the Giants squander another?
Hixon seemed surrounded by Cowboys, and his attempt to run up the left side failed. He ducked and stumbled and seemed about to go down. Then, suddenly, he shifted direction and picked up speed as he raced to the right.
His blockers reacted, fanning out like a flock of birds, and the fans jumped to their feet. All of a sudden, the big green field opened up before him along with all sorts of possibilities for this perplexing team.
Hixon kept running for 79 yards and a touchdown that provided the winning margin of an exquisite 31-24 victory that lifted the Giants (7-5) to one game behind the Cowboys and the Eagles, who are tied for first place in the National Football Conference East at 8-4.
Before the play, Hixon said, âGuys were giving me the thumbs up, letting me know they were ready to roll.â
During the play, Hixon said he thought, âWhen you get to that wall and see all the blue shirts running down the field with you and protecting you, thatâs a great feeling.â
After the play, Hixon said he did not worry about a penalty flag. âI was just looking to celebrate,â he said. âIt never goes the way you draw it up. Special teams are kind of controlled chaos.â
The whole game was like that. Hixonâs return trumped what, on most days, would have been the most spectacular play of the game, a 74-yard touchdown rumble by Brandon Jacobs, a running back known more for power than speed and distance.
Jacobs, 6 feet 4 inches and 264 pounds, took a short pass from quarterback Eli Manning late in the third quarter and sprinted down the left sideline through tackle attempts, high-stepping to keep his feet inbounds.
âIâve never seen him run that fast,â Coach Tom Coughlin said.
It was his second touchdown of the day, the other on a prosaic 1-yard carry, and it put the Giants ahead to stay. Jacobs later renewed his pledge of disdain for the Cowboys, who have lost twice this season to the Giants.
He said he hoped the Giants would have another chance to beat the Cowboys in the playoffs. âDallas is a team I just absolutely canât stand,â he said. âThe hatred in my heart is still there.â
After the run, he said, âI got to the sideline and I was able to celebrate and talk trash.â
There was plenty of that all over the place, some of it extending beyond the sideline and the clock. When the first half ended, the teams scuffled on the way to the locker room.
Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said the melee was caused by Dallas tackle Flozell Adams. In the first game this season between the teams, Tuck sustained a shoulder injury when he was tripped by Adams on his way into the Cowboysâ backfield. This time, Tuck said, Adams pushed him from behind.
âI felt somebody shove me to the ground,â Tuck said. âIt takes a coward and some words I canât say to push a guy in the back.â
In the other locker room, Adams referred to Tuck as âa nobody.â Tuck was part of a defense that played with notable intensity after being blamed for sloppy tackling, among other things, in recent weeks.
The Giantsâ defense benefited from several changes in the starting lineup. At one end, Mathias Kiwanuka replaced Osi Umenyiora. At one tackle, Chris Canty replaced Fred Robbins. At middle linebacker, Jonathan Goff replaced Chase Blackburn.
And the rookie linebacker Clint Sintim played effectively. Kiwanuka and Umenyiora teamed up for a pivotal play in the second quarter that set up the first touchdown by Jacobs and the first Giants lead of the game.
After Kiwanuka stripped the ball from the hands of Marion Barber, Umenyiora returned it 24 yards to the Dallas 28. At the start of the season, Kiwanuka said he was disappointed about losing his first-string status. After Sundayâs game, he said he had no second thoughts when he learned he had been restored to the first team.
âIf someone hands you the keys to a Ferrari, you step on the gas and you donât ask any questions,â he said.
It seemed as if many other Giants pressed their accelerators before 79,244 fans who were roaring like a high-powered motor. Steve Smith, although he dropped what could have been a touchdown pass, caught six passes for 110 yards.
Hakeem Nicks caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Manning, who completed 11 of 25 for 241 yards and was good when he settled for short passes and not so good when he probed deep.
Manningâs intensity is not as visible as that of his teammates. In the previous game, when Umenyiora yelled at his teammates on the sideline in Denver, Manning stood there placidly, watching and listening.
After Sundayâs game, while his teammates smiled and offered happy words, Manning kept his measured tone, saying, âYou canât save a season or make a season in one game.â
Next week, they play the Eagles, who embarrassed them in Philadelphia. âWeâre going to need that win,â Manning said.
Copyright: nytimes Source: http://www.newscolony.com