Big Blue back in the hunt

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The New York Giants used a bunch of big plays to scramble the NFC East standings Sunday.

Brandon Jacobs had the Giants' longest play of the season for just a few minutes, then Domenik Hixon topped it, lifting New York past Dallas 31-24.

The Giants (7-5) tightened the NFC East with their win, dropping Dallas (8-4) into a tie with Philadelphia for the lead. New York has swept Dallas this season and plays Philadelphia here next Sunday night. The Eagles have a victory over the Giants and a loss to Dallas already.

The bruising Jacobs showed his versatility when he covered 74 yards after taking a short pass from Eli Manning, his touchdown putting the Giants ahead 21-17 in the third quarter. Not to be outdone, Hixon went 79 yards with a punt return for a 31-17 lead in the final period.

New York won despite huge stats for Dallas tight end Jason Witten, wide receivers Roy Williams and Miles Austin, and quarterback Tony Romo, who is 5-9 in December games. Witten included his 500th career catch among a career-best 14 receptions for 156 yards. Romo went 41 of 55 for 392 yards, a career high, and three TDs, two to Roy Williams. Austin had 10 catches for 104 yards and one touchdown.

After Williams' second TD reception, a 5-yarder off superb play-action by Romo, gave Dallas a 17-14 edge, New York answered immediately. Jacobs galloped down the left sideline, barely avoiding going out of bounds on his 74-yard romp.

After Nick Folk missed a 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, Steve Smith's 25-yard reception and Ahmad Bradshaw's 29-yard run set up Lawrence Tynes' 23-yard kick for a 24-17 lead.

Then Hixon clinched it by surpassing Jacobs' effort with a scintillating 79-yard punt runback in which he ran into a pile, got free, cut right and down the sideline behind a stream of solid blocks.

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