I spent one post talking about Eli, it's probably worthwhile to spend one on JPP. A modest prediction: he is going to be the best defensive player in the NFL for the next 5 years. As great a player as he is becoming, this was probably his most impactful game. You could easily argue that he was directly responsible for 8 points in this game: the safety against Romo, the strip of Jones which led to the Giants FG shortly before the half and the block of the attempted game tying FG were all direct plays that he made on the strength of his individual effort. In addition he had 8 tackles and 2 sacks. One of the tackles he made was a game saver that really should have ended the game if the refs did not blow the call. On 2nd and 10 with 29 seconds left in the game trying to protect that 3 point lead, Romo saw a Giants blitz coming and called a screen pass to Felix Jones. It was actually a zone blitz with JPP dropping into the flat. JPP tackled Felix Jones and tossed him out of bounds, but he actually was down in bounds, his knee clearly touching the ground before he went out of bounds. The sideline ref waved his arms and stopped the clock, meaning that the Cowboys ran their next play with 24 seconds left. They hit Austin for 20 yards and had to hustle to get to the line, spike the ball and give their FG kicker a try with 6 seconds left. If Jones had correctly been called down in bounds and the clock had continued to run, another 15 or 20 seconds would have run off the clock and the Cowboys would have been forced to try a desperation Hail Mary because there would not have been time to set up for a FG otherwise.
It's still amazing to me that this is now several games in a row where there was not a holding call against the opposing OL. With Giants pass rush the feature, it's hard to understand how they would not occasionally grab some jersey or hook someone's arm. I saw Canty getting held several times by Kosier and JPP was held by Free more than once.
Having said that, I have to admit that the refereeing was not awful in this game. That is not to say that there were not a fair number of missed calls, in addition to those mentioned above, but there were a decent number of calls that went in the Giants favor, where the refs might have swallowed their whistles considering the home town venue. I am referring to the two defensive penalties in the Giants winning TD drive. Both were obvious penalties that the refs simply could not have ignored, the holding on Frank Walker and the offside penalty against Ware, but still.... they did make the calls. The other badly missed call was the holding on Ballard in the end zone right before the half prior to Tynes FG which momentarily gave the Giants the lead before the half.
Of course, the most ridiculous call was the intentional grounding call against Eli. The reason it was absurd was because of the circumstances - the ref did not throw a flag and because coach Garret yelled and motioned vociferously, the crowd got into it, the refs were intimidated to throw a flag a full 10 seconds after the play was over. I always whine about this because it doesn't happen in any other sport. It's as if the refs are saying - "oh wait... you mean the QB is not allowed to throw the ball away on purpose? OK, coach thanks for telling me, in that case I'll throw the penalty flag. BTW - what do we call this... intentional grounding? Check. Thanks for your help"
I thought the QB and WR got their signals crossed; Eli threw outside Nicks ran inside. Or - maybe it really was grounding. Nevertheless, the refs should not change their minds because the home town coach or player yells at them and gets the crowd barking along with him. It's just stupid.