EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - For once, the Giants offense didn't have to manufacture a last-minute comeback. Instead, the defense stopped one by Dallas.
The Giants built a 17-0 lead, then hung on to beat the Cowboys and take sole possession of first in the NFC East.
In four games this season, New York has rallied late in the fourth quarter behind Eli Manning. With the quarterback struggling this time, the Giants relied on four sacks, two interceptions and two fumbles.
Antonio Pierce returned one fumble for a 12-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half to give New York a 17-0 lead. Kendrick Clancy forced the fumble by Dallas quarterback Drew Bledsoe.
Dallas closed within a touchdown in the third quarter on a 34-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff and a 7-yard touchdown from Bledsoe to Terry Glenn.
But unlike in losses to Dallas, Minnesota and Seattle, New York's defense held fast in the final minutes. Safety Gibril Wilson tipped Bledsoe's pass intended for Keyshawn Johnson and Brent Alexander intercepted with 1:47 left. Dallas got the ball back once more but couldn't move past the Giants 44 at the final whistle.
Giants kicker Jay Feely, who missed three potential winning kicks in a 24-21 overtime loss Nov.27 at Seattle, missed a 33-yarder with 5:18 left.
NOTABLE: Manning was 12-for-31 for 152 yards and was intercepted twice by cornerback Aaron Glenn.