ARLINGTON, Texas -- NFL coaches like to say some guys just have a knack for being around the ball, a trait that can't really be taught but one that gives a player a major advantage. Sounds about right for Giants safety Stevie Brown, even if it took a couple of years and a few teams for people to discover it.
Brown's defensive heroics went a long way toward helping the Giants eke out a 29-24 win over the Cowboys Sunday. He had two interceptions and a fumble recovery to help the Giants extend their NFC East-leading record to 6-2.
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And get this: If Kenny Phillips returns from a knee injury next week and Antrel Rolle is OK after banging his head on the turf late in Sunday's game, there's a chance Brown might not even be in the starting lineup. Then again, the way he has played since filling in for Phillips, rest assured defensive coordinator Perry Fewell will find a way to get him action.
"It's a great problem to have," Brown said. "When you have three capable safeties, you're able to do a lot of things with them. I understand [Phillips] is the starter and I'll just go back to playing my role, whatever that is, if it's playing defense or special teams. It doesn't matter."
Brown certainly mattered to the Giants, who signed him in April as a free agent. Brown, a seventh-round pick of the Raiders in 2010 who also played with the Panthers and Colts, picked off Romo in the first quarter when he stepped in front of Dez Bryant on a slant route and returned it 37 yards to the Cowboys' 27-yard line. The Giants converted it into a field goal and a 6-0 lead. "I was just reading Romo's eyes," Brown said. "I saw him looking that way, and when [Romo] let it go, I could see Dez breaking in, so I knew I had to jump in front of him to get it."
Brown came up with a fumble recovery with 6:40 to play and the Giants holding a 26-24 lead. That set up Lawrence Tynes' fifth field goal, which was key because the Cowboys no longer could win it with a field goal.
On the Cowboys' next drive, Brown picked off Romo near the left sideline on a pass intended for tight end Jason Witten. Brown has a team-high five interceptions.
Brown and the Giants had to sweat out what appeared to be a game-winning touchdown pass to Bryant in the final seconds. The play was overturned on replay as his hand hit the end line. "You always say keep everything in front of you," Brown said. "In that situation, just keep everything in front. To see him running down like that wasn't a good feeling."
Brown was thankful the Giants held on for the win. "The quickest way to the playoffs is to win your division," he said. "By knocking them off and evening our [divisional] record definitely puts us in a better place."