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Giants 31, Cowboys 14

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Victor Cruz and Eli Manning have the Giants in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Manning threw three touchdowns, including a 74-yarder to Cruz early, and the Giants won an all-or-nothing game Sunday night for the NFC East title and claim the final spot in the playoffs, beating the Cowboys, who missed the postseason for the second straight year.

New York won three of its final four for 65-year-old coach Tom Coughlin and earned a wild-card home game against the Falcons.

The Cowboys, down 21-0 at halftime, were their own worst enemies. They missed tackles on all three first-half Giants touchdowns, failed to recover two fumbles within their grasp in the half and failed to convert on a Tony Romo sneak on fourth and 1 at the Giants 10 while trailing 21-7 early in the fourth quarter.

Romo, who played with a bruised right hand, moved the Cowboys in the second half but all he could generate were touchdown passes of 34 and 6 yards to Laurent Robinson, the last one getting Dallas within 21-14 with 10:15 to play.

Cruz, however, had a 44-yard third-down catch and another for 20 yards to set up a 28-yard Lawrence Tynes field goal. Then Manning iced the game with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks with 3:41 to play.

"It's a great feeling," Manning told NBC. "Our guys have stuck together this whole season. … We finished the season strong; we needed two wins to make the playoffs, that's what we knew we had to do, and we got it done."

Manning finished 24-of-33 for 346 yards and no interceptions as the Giants beat Dallas for the second time in four games.

Cruz had six catches for 178 yards, and the Giants sacked Romo six times.

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Giants 31, Cowboys 14 01/01/12 [Last modified: Monday, January 2, 2012 12:28am]
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