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Dallas shuts down Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, but it's not enough

Victor Cruz is congratulated by teammate Hakeem Nicks

Victor Cruz is congratulated by teammate Hakeem Nicks of the Giants after Cruz scored the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game against the Washington Redskins. (Oct. 21, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

ARLINGTON, Texas -- With their two big offensive weapons essentially handcuffed for the game, it's hard to understand how the Giants won a close game against the Cowboys. But that's what they did, even though Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks totaled only six catches, 69 yards and no touchdowns.

"They approached the game schematically different, trying to take me and Cruz a lot the whole game," Nicks said after the Giants' 29-24 victory. "They doubled the slot and they doubled the outside a lot and tried to make the inside game and the running game pick up as well."

"We weren't frustrated," Cruz said. "I think it was just a matter of them playing some good schemes defensively. They kept two people in my area for most of the time. They kept a safety over the top and they just played two-man on the outside. It's difficult to get a lot of the things we want done when they're playing that coverage."

Cruz was targeted eight times but caught only two passes. One went through his hands on the sideline. Another bounced off him as he was smashed over the middle by Gerald Sensabaugh. That pass went up in the air and landed on Sensabaugh's back, where Danny McCray was able to grab it for an interception.

Cruz was shaken up on the play but returned. "I got the wind knocked out of me in my stomach and I got kicked in the calf as well," he said. "Just a bunch of little nicks and pains, but I'll be all right. I came right back in after that."

Cruz said that was one of the hardest hits he's taken, but he made no excuses. "I should've came down with the ball, but he kind of hit me right on the forearm as I was catching it, so it was unfortunate," he said. "It was a good hit."

Nicks did manage to catch a 29-yard pass on a slant, the second-longest pass play of the game for the Giants behind an early 56-yarder to Rueben Randle. That pass to Nicks started the drive that led to the eventual game-winning field goal, the one that made it 26-24 with 10:20 left in the fourth quarter.

"We caught the safety down because we had started running the ball and we hit them with the play action and got in behind him," Nicks said. "Eli put the ball up and I had to do my job to go get it."

Cruz also griped about a lack of penalties on the Cowboys as they covered him, wondering why there were not more holding calls. He has the same complaint about the Cowboys in Week 1, when the game was officiated by replacements and he felt he was mugged by Sensabaugh in the end zone.

Eli Manning, who puts up 300-yard games on nearly every visit to Dallas, completed 15 of 29 passes for 192 yards.

"We didn't do a good job of winning in our pass game," Tom Coughlin said. "I'm sure there aren't very many numbers, but we're happy to win and happy now to be on our way home."

Nicks, who was targeted seven times and had four catches and a drop, was just as happy to leave Cowboys Stadium with a victory, if not a strong statistical performance.

"It's relieving," he said. "You definitely want to leave with no L. Our goal was to finish this week 6-2, 2-2 in the division, so we got it and move on to next week."

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