The Giants lost Mathias Kiwanuka and their defense got better. They've played without Shaun O'Hara for most of the season and their offense has kept on cooking. Now we'll find out just how important Steve Smith is to the team.
Smith tore his pectoral muscle in practice on Thursday and will be out for an indefinite period of time that WFAN is reported as "weeks" on Friday. While we haven't actually seen a scan of Smith's injury, Kevin Boothe suffered a torn pec during the offseason and only came off the physically-unable-to-perform list this week for the team. That means the team has to prepare as if Smith isn't going to be around to help the passing game anytime soon.
That could be problematic. While Hakeem Nicks has rightfully grabbed the headlines for his play this season, it has been Smith who has been drawing the double teams and other intensive attention from opposing defenses through the first half of the season. Nicks will have to prove that his blossoming is about more than drawing lesser corners playing without help and other receivers, Mario Manningham most notably, will have to make plays on the other side of the field to keep the Giants offense humming.
The timing of the injury could be better as well. David Diehl is out for the next few weeks -- although we're on record as not thinking this is a huge deal, no pun intended -- and it looks like O'Hara won't be back anytime soon. It will take a little bit of time for the new line to get totally comfortable playing with one another, something that could be a bit harder to swallow now that Eli Manning is down one weapon.
Thankfully, they get another game against the dregs of the league to help ease them into their new reality this weekend. There's been a lot of talk about Jason Garrett's attempt to change the culture of the Cowboys in the days after Wade Phillips's firing, but that's not something that happens with the snap of a finger. The Cowboys may well come out with a big head of steam, but will they be able to keep it up after taking a punch in the jaw?
The Cowboys have had tons of talent on their side all year, but they play with no effort and look for excuses to close up shop and shut down. That's what the Giants did last year and they were once 1-2, just like the Cowboys. They avoided that shameful fate, however, and started delivering blows every week instead of simply fending off attacks from others. No amount of injuries can be used as an excuse to stop doing that, especially not when you're facing a team as unwilling to compete as the Cowboys.