December 7, 2009 at 9:23 AM CST - Updated June 21 at 8:54 AM
By BARRY WILNER AP Football Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Brandon Jacobs' sensational touchdown left nearly everyone in the stadium breathless. Except the Giants' bruising running back, that is.
Displaying his speed and versatility, Jacobs galloped 74 yards for the go-ahead touchdown in New York's 31-24 victory over Dallas on Sunday that scrambled the NFC East standings. The longest play of his five NFL seasons also was the most satisfying.
"When you're running that route, you don't see that much," Jacobs said. "As soon as I turned, I caught the ball, and I never looked back as I headed upfield.
"I was looking to get 15 to 20 yards. I had no idea I would go the distance."
Was he winded by the end?
"I was good," he said, "able to celebrate and talk trash."
A lot of talking goes on when these intense division rivals meet. Jacobs knew full well it was the first time in his career the Giants swept the Cowboys during the regular season.
"It's the biggest play of my career," he said. "It's extra special against Dallas. That's absolutely a team I can't stand. I've been hating Dallas ever since I knew anything about football."
The thing to know about football in the NFC East is that it's a three-team race with a month to go. Dallas is 8-4, tied with Philadelphia at the top. New York is 7-5.
Next week, the Giants host the Eagles, who already have a head-to-head win with them. Dallas has a victory over Philly.
"It's good to see that when you put some pressure on us and we needed to get something going," Manning said, "we were able to come out and do some things and win the game."
For Dallas, the questions about folding in December will be raised again. Tony Romo is 5-9 in the month, and even a career-high in yards passing couldn't prevent another defeat.
New York won despite huge stats for Dallas tight end Jason Witten, wide receivers Roy Williams and Miles Austin, and Romo. Witten included his 500th career catch among a career-best 14 receptions for 156 yards. Romo went 41 of 55 for 392 yards, a career high, and three TDs, two to Roy Williams. Austin had 10 catches for 104 yards and one touchdown.
"We've got to challenge ourselves and find a way to play," Witten said. "We have to get back to it and forget all this December stuff. I'm not trying to avoid it or say it's not true. We've got to put it away. You let another one slip and you're really in trouble."
Jacobs' touchdown was the Giants' longest play of the season - for about 14 minutes. Then Domenik Hixon broke a 79-yard punt return.
Hixon clinched the win as he ran into a pile, got free, cut right and down the sideline behind a stream of solid blocks.
"It's a credit to the 10 guys up front," Hixon said. "They knew we were close, and today we finally broke it.
"Every time I get on the field, I have the mindset of taking it all the way."
Dallas led 17-14 after Williams' second TD reception, a 5-yarder off superb play-action by Romo. New York answered with Jacobs and, following Nick Folk's miss of a 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, Lawrence Tynes' 23-yard kick for a 24-17 lead.
And then Hixon finished off the Cowboys - even though Dallas had the ball for nearly 39 minutes. The Giants' ability to grab big chunks of yards and quick points was decisive.
"We gave up big plays we don't normally give up," coach Wade Phillips said. "They didn't complete that many passes, but the ones they did were big plays for them."
The Cowboys dominated possession in the first half, if not the scoreboard. They grabbed a 10-0 lead on Folk's 34-yard field goal and Williams' 4-yard TD reception that was set up by two fumbles.
Ahmad Bradshaw lost the ball at New York's 26, with Jay Ratliff forcing the fumble and recovering it. Then Dallas was helped immensely by a replay reversal one play before Williams beat Corey Webster in the corner of the end zone.
Tashard Choice lost the ball on a third-down run from the 7 and Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas recovered. But the Cowboys challenged and were rewarded when Choice was ruled down by referee Bill Leavy.
New York responded by covering 74 yards in four plays, with top draft pick Hakeem Nicks scoring on a 21-yard pass from Manning.
Three plays later, the Giants were threatening again. Mathias Kiwanuka forced Marion Barber's fumble that defensive end Osi Umenyiora - who lost his starting job - returned 24 yards, palming the ball in his right hand as he scooted down the left sideline.
Jacobs surged in from the 1 with 19 seconds left in the half. Even though the Cowboys had possession for 21 minutes, they trailed by four points at the break.
It didn't get any better for Dallas.
NOTES: Cowboys tackle Flozell Adams, who injured Giants DE Justin Tuck in Week 2 and has a history of run-ins with New York, drew a personal foul penalty at the end of the half for a late hit out of bounds. ... Giants guard Chris Snee injured his knee and coach Tom Coughlin had no updates after the game, nor would the team say which knee. ... Witten now is second in Dallas receiving to Michael Irvin and has 502 receptions.
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