Cowboys can seize control 

A month ago, the New York Giants left Dallas on top of the NFC East and with thoughts of contending for a Super Bowl.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, headed into the unknown, handing the quarterback duties over to an unproven youngster.

Now look at these teams: Dallas (7-4) sits atop the NFC East and can legitimately dream of playoff glory. The Giants (6-5), on the other hand, face problems at quarterback, among other places.

And a Dallas win would give it a nice cushion. Keep in mind, the Cowboys’ final three games are against struggling teams (Atlanta, Philadelphia and Detroit).

New York always seems one bad game away from imploding, perhaps stemming from its dislike — or disrespect — of coach Tom Coughlin. They held a players-only meeting this week and then defensive end Michael Strahan had a tirade Wednesday.

But what the Giants really need is better quarterback play. New York has had injuries and losing receiver Amani Toomer for the season has hurt quarterback Eli Manning. But Manning also makes questionable decisions, as he did in a crushing loss last week at Tennessee. Manning forced a pass late in the game that was intercepted, leading to a game-winning field goal.

Since leading New York to a win at Dallas on Oct. 23, Manning has not finished a game with a passer rating of 80 or higher. In those five games, he has thrown four touchdown passes and seven interceptions. For the season, Manning is decidedly mediocre (17 touchdowns, 15 interceptions) — much more was expected in his third season.

Tony Romo is having much more success, despite having started only five games. But in those games, Romo has thrown 10 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. He has finished three of his starts with a passer rating of at least 109.

His play has energized the entire organization. The offensive line, criticized before he started, has allowed only six sacks in his starts as Romo’s elusiveness has allowed him to sidestep pressure.

And Terrell Owens appears happy with the move. Of his 61 catches, 33 have come in Romo’s five starts. Also, his only 100-plus-yard games have come with Romo. Of course, that figure would be higher without all the drops.

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John Keim

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