The Giants suffered their most devastating loss of the season so far on Sunday night, blowing a late 10-point lead in Dallas to lose to the Cowboys 27-26. Unluckily for the Big Blue faithful, this was only the first game of the season, affording the Giants 15 more chances to hand away a game in more devastating fashion.
But is that possible? What scenario could you conjure up that would be more nauseating than this loss to Dallas, a hated divisional rival? Maybe if your star wide receiver had a terrific catch overturned on replay during a divisional playoff game in Green Bay. Yeah, that’s what happened to Dallas and Dez Bryant the last time America’s Team took the field. This game didn’t end much better for Bryant, who broke a bone in his foot and is expected to miss four to six weeks.
So cheer up, Giants fans, it could be worse. At least no key players suffered long-term injuries. Besides, there was a lot of Good to be taken away, along with plenty of Bad and plenty of Ugly. Before we get to each, let’s have 40 seconds of silence in honor of that idiotic decision to pass the ball on the goal line on 3rd down with 1:43 left in the game, when Dallas had no timeouts.
Good: The Giants’ defense played terrific against a very good Dallas offense for approximately 53 minutes of game time. Coming into the game, most people expected New York’s offense to be central to any chance of winning on the road, but it was the defense that kept them in it and allowed Eli Manning and the offense to wrest a defeat from the jaws of victory.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie scooped up a fumble and returned it 57 yards for a touchdown, and Brandon Meriwether had a great hit that led to a Trumaine McBride interception that was returned to the 1 yard line. Those guys are all defensive backs, but they were a large part of New York’s offense, too, as the Giants only managed four Josh Brown field goals when operating without the benefit of a turnover.
When your team wins the turnover battle 3-0, you should expect to win handily.
Bad: The Giants’ offense was the definition of mediocre against the Cowboys. Their only touchdown came as a benefit of a Trumaine McBride interception that set them up on the 1 yard line, where Rashad Jennings (13 carries for 52 yards) punched it in. Their leading receiving was the versatile Shane Vereen (4 catches for 46 yards), but Odell Beckham Jr. (4 catches for 44 yards) was largely held in check and Preston Parker was his usual self, dropping key third down passes to kill drives.
Ya know who might have caught those balls? A guy who caught two touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers this week. But somehow James Jones wasn’t better than Parker or Rueben Randle, so he got banished to the offensive graveyard that is Green Bay.
Prior to this week’s game, I predicted that Eli Manning would probably be the player of the game. He had a track record of great games against the Cowboys, including both games last season. But Manning only averaged 5.4 yard per attempt on Sunday night, with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was only sacked once, yet he couldn’t connect with his receivers on several important conversion plays.
The Giants’ defense was opportunistic, but as Tom Coughlin said in the postgame press conference, the Cowboys on the last two drives of the game basically cut through the Giants’ defense like a knife through butter. They also got hosed on a bogus pass interference call against Rodgers-Cromartie that set the Cowboys up on the goal line, reinforcing my belief that pass interference calls should be reviewable.
Ugly: If I were a Giants fan and not just an impartial observer, I would be ticked beyond belief about the moronic decision to throw the ball on third down with 1:43 left in the game and the ball on the Dallas 1 yard line. Did New York hire the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator in the offseason? Only someone dumb enough to throw a slant pass to Ricardo Lockette from the 1 yard line (instead of handing off to Marshawn Lynch) would think it was a good idea to have Eli Manning scramble to the flat and look to pass.
Luckily for the Cowboys, Manning doubled down on dumb and — instead of sliding for a sack and eating 40 seconds off the clock — decided to throw it away. This left more than a minute and a half for Tony Romo to lead the Cowboys down the field for the eventual go-ahead touchdown pass to Jason Witten.
After the game, Coughlin said he was taking full responsibility for the error in strategy. Nice try, but we know the call was made by offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. His offense did next to nothing all game, and on the one play where it was essentially asked to do nothing, it couldn't even do that.