DALLAS, Texas (AFP) — R.W. McQuarters intercepted a Tony Romo pass with nine seconds remaining to end the final Dallas threat and give the New York Giants a 21-17 triumph over the Cowboys here Sunday.
The Giants, who lost twice to the Cowboys during the regular season, advanced to next Sunday's semi-final game at Green Bay with the winner to face either unbeaten New England or San Diego in Super Bowl 42 on February 3.
New York at home to Green Bay 35-13 in the second week of the season.
Dallas extended a frustrating playoff drought. The Cowboys have not won a playoff game in 11 seasons.
The Cowboys went 13-3 in the regular season to earn a first-round bye and a home-field edge throughout the National Conference playoffs, but squandered both to a team that it had twice humbled.
The Giants lost 45-35 at Dallas in the season opener and 31-20 when hosting the Cowboys in November.
New York's Brandon Jacobs scored on a one-yard run 91 seconds into the fourth quarter to give the Giants a 21-17 lead.
The Cowboys were frustrated at every turn by the Giants' defense in the second half but the Dallas defense denied New York a late first down that would have clinched a victory and forced a punt with two minutes remaining.
Romo and the Cowboys took over 48 yards from the go-ahead touchdown and Romo sustained the drive on third down while scrambling by flipping a first-down pass on the run to Jason Whitten.
But Romo could not move Dallas forward, and the game came down to a fourth down call with 16 seconds remaining. Romo threw over the middle into the end zone and McQuarters picked off the pass to secure the Giants triumph.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning completed 12-of-18 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
"We've had a great run so far. No one has given us much credit. We like it that way," Manning said. "It was just a team victory. Guys made big plays when we needed them. Stopping them when they had chances to score, that was big."
Nick Folk had put the Cowboys ahead with a 34-yard field goal 8:07 into the third quarter to break a 14-14 half-time tie.
Manning threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer with seven seconds remaining in the second quarter to lift the Giants into a 14-14 deadlock at half-time.
"That drive at the end of the first half was tremendous," Manning said.
The 46-second scoring drive was New York's response to a 20-play, 90-yard march that used 10:28 and ended with Marion Barber's one-yard touchdown run just 53 seconds before the end of the first half.
Barber ran 27 times for 129 yards and a touchdown.
Manning threw a short pass to Toomer that resulted in a 52-yard touchdown play which gave the Giants a 7-0 lead just 3:10 into the game.
Terrell Owens caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo on the first play of the second quarter to pull Dallas level at 7-7.
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