On two of the most important plays this season, two supporting actors played key roles in fourth-quarter dramas.
Both were the same call. Both were successful. The only difference was the outcome of the game.
Two weeks ago at home, the Giants needed a two-point conversion to tie the game and stay alive against the undefeated Green Bay Packers with less than a minute remaining.
They turned to D.J. Ware, the third-string running back who had a single rush for three yards previously in the game. Two weeks earlier than that, he had three rushes for negative three yards total. Nonetheless, Ware received the delayed handoff out of the shotgun and powered in behind Mitch Petrus, who was making his first career start at left guard.
Now to this past Sunday night. With even greater magnitude than the Green Bay game, the Giants again found themselves in need of a two-point conversion to extend their late lead to where a Dallas field goal would only tie the game. Again, Ware's number was called, this time barreling to the right side behind the pulling Petrus. It was another successful two-point conversion as the Giants went on to win in Dallas by three.
"I'll do it as long as they ask me to do it," Ware said on Wednesday. "It's a great feeling getting in that end zone. I want six points, but I'll take two all day. Those guys have a lot of trust in me to run it in that situation. It's such a confidence-builder for me. I love it."
The goal line plays were essentially the same, leaving room for split-second decisions to pick and choose where the run goes based on the defense.
"It's just a power play," Petrus said. "It's downhill. The defensive end crashed in so you have to read the tight end's block. If the defensive end crashes in, I've got to bounce it outside. I read it right and D.J. ran it right behind me so it made it really easy."
Petrus went on to say the running backs just ask the line to make a decision either way so they can fully commit as they receive the handoff.
"You just trust what your eyes see, and above anything, get downhill as fast as possible," he said. "It turned out to be a good deal. Danny knows how to run that, all the backs do."
But why the decision to run it again instead of passing the ball?
"It's 50-50," Ware said of the success rate between ground and air. "It all depends on what the defense is playing that day. If they've been dropping back, the run is probably good. If they're coming up blitzing, then we'll throw the ball real quick and get it out. It all depends on how the defense plays. There really aren't any numbers either way. It's tough down in there. It's just one of those things you have to make a judgment call."
Either way, Ware, who also had three catches for 19 yards in the game, thrived under the pressure.
"I'm licking my chops," he said. "Let's get in here. The team's depending on me. We need that two-point conversion. The game is on the line so I just feel like I can't let anybody stop me. I've got to get in there. It's been good for me these last two weeks."
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