Luckily for the Giants, Jason Pierre-Paul was in beast mode
JAIME C. HARRIS Special to the AmNews | 12/16/2011, 1:10 p.m.
If most of the shot callers for NFL franchises who chose ahead of the Giants in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft were granted a do-over, they would undoubtedly select defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
"There's a lot of teams that wish they had a crystal ball," said Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck weeks ago regarding Pierre-Paul's emergence.
When the Giants secured the now-22-year-old with the 15th overall pick out of the University of South Florida, he was a relative unknown. However, this past Sunday, Pierre-Paul's superlative performance against the Dallas Cowboys in the spotlight of a national television audience cemented his status as one of football's best defensive players.
His sensational block of a game-tying 47-yard field goal attempt by Cowboy's kicker Dan Bailey in the closing seconds sealed a vital 37-34 win for the Giants. It also ended their four-game losing streak and elevated the Giants to first place in the NFC East with a record of 7-6.
The Cowboys are also 7-6, but the Giants currently hold a tie-breaking advantage resulting from their head-to-head win. The regular season ends at MetLife Stadium on New Year's Day for the two teams, with the division title and a playoff as the treasure.
More immediate for the Giants is focusing on the 4-9 but dangerous Washington Redskins, whom they host this Sunday. The Cowboys play the floundering 4-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road Saturday night.
The Giants would be experiencing dire circumstances if not for quarterback Eli Manning's breathtaking 400-yard passing masterpiece versus the Cowboys and Pierre-Paul's showstopping display on the other side of the ball. Considering the Giants' playoff aspirations would have essentially ended with a loss, the pair's dominance, particularly the still developing 6-foot-5, 280-pound defensive end's, was near awe-inspiring.
In addition to the block, Pierre-Paul led the Giants with eight tackles (six solo), two sacks of Cowboys QB Tony Romo, including one for a safety, and a forced fumble.
"We got what we came here to get-a win," said the former Deerfield Beach High School basketball standout. "Last year we didn't quite make it. We made it this far now and we just have to win on out."
"JPP," as Pierre-Paul is often identified, "single-handedly handled [the Cowboys] today," said safety Antrel Rolle. "I always call it beast mode, and he was in beast mode today."