Oct 282015
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New York Giants 27 – Dallas Cowboys 20


Forty minutes of possession against us, Darren McFadden running like he was at Arkansas, Eli Manning throwing no TDs, 3 interceptions by Matt Cassel, a kickoff return for a TD, a muffed punt to win a woolly contest at MetLife…I don’t know what to make of that. I sure don’t. The games you see now, it’s hard to even take its measure. It’s not that I’m afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to write to even do this job. But, I don’t want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don’t understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He’d have to say, “O.K., I’ll be part of this world.” And a part of this world we are for now Big Blue Faithful, 4-3, atop the NFC East and a chance to make some noise down the stretch. Not much else you can ask for heading for the midpoint in the season but nothing will be easy and none of it makes any sense.

Down 13-10 at the half, kicking off to the Cowboys with Darren McFadden running wild, things looked bleak for the G-Men and their chance to exorcise the Cowboys’ demon that had haunted them for 5 straight games. That’s when DRC came riding in to save the day with his 58-yard interception return that ignited the Giants and sent them to a 17-13 lead as the Cowboys were working down field to open the second half. Then Brandon Meriweather intercepted Cassel at the 1-yard line. After adding a FG on a drive punctuated by a 44-yard fly to Rueben Randle and a 39-yard scamper by Shane Vereen, DRC snuffed out another Cowboys’ drive and the Giants hard-fought 20-13 lead temporarily stood. Taking the ball out of Cassel’s turnover-prone hands would have seemed wise and the Cowboys indeed turned to Lucky Whitehead, Darren McFadden and former Seahawk Christine Michael (someone listened to a “Boy named Sue” one too many times before naming his kid) for six straight plays. That running game gave Cassel the chance he needed and the veteran tossed 21- and 25-yard deep outs to Terrance Williams and Devin Street to knot the game at 20.

And then, Dwayne Harris happened. The former Cowboy, signed to a 5-year, $17 million contract in the offseason cashed in with a 100-yard kickoff return with 7 minutes left in the contest to put the Giants ahead for good and give Tom Coughlin an actual good special teams memory to hold on to. Dallas gave it a go, driving to the Giants 30, but Brandon Meriweather swatted a Cassel offering and a gang of Giants finished off TE James Hanna to kill the threat. After forcing a Giant punt with 1:36 left, the Cowboys had one more chance, but Cole Beasley bobbled the punt and it was pounced on by Myles White and the special teams saved the day for Tom Coughlin and his 100th victory as head coach of the New York Giants.


As Eli goes, so go the G-Men. A two-game slump since the 441-yard masterpiece against the Niners, but this week his teammates found a way when Eli was hemmed in. The positives are zero turnovers and Greg Hardy did not in fact in kill, maim, fold, spindle or mutilate your aw shucks signal caller. Manning was dumped twice, and completed just 13 passes for 170 yards against a defense that has struggled to stop the pass all year save for its two contests with the Giants. Manning misfired on a crossing route to Beckham to end the Giants’ second possession with another punt, and flirted with disaster as an errant pass glanced off Shane Vereen and appeared to be picked off by Byron Jones deep in Giants’ territory until a review mercifully saw the ball bounce off of the turf. Manning, as he is wont to do, followed that near-mistake with a rifle shot to Dwayne Harris on a 38-yard catch-and-run that got the Giants into field goal range. Manning had two more great passes, a 44-yarder to Rueben Randle and a drop by the same Randle on a perfectly-thrown post as the Giants were trying to add to their lead.

Running Backs

“How many of those things you got now?” – “Running Backs? Several. Well, depends on what you mean by got. Some are half-wild and some are just outlaws.” Orleans Darkwa, welcome to outlaw status. Castoff running backs seem to find a home in New York and our new outlaw fits the mold. After weeks of a certain big-mouth “writer” calling for him, Tom Coughlin dusted off #26 and lo and behold, a running game emerged. It took 25 totes but the mercurial 4 racked up a season-high 132 yards on the ground, with Darkwa bulling his way to the end zone for the group’s lone score. In true head-scratching style though, no one got more than 8 carries and it appears this rotation may just work as long as Darkwa’s role remains. Darkwa endeared himself to Greg Hardy haters everywhere by leveling the loud-mouthed DE and rumbling forward for a 10-yard gain, and then simply bulling his way to a 15-yard TD run. Shane Vereen actually led all rushers with 56 yards, ripping off a game-long 39-yarder on a Giants’ FG drive in the 3rd quarter. Rashad Jennings’ first two carries went for 8 and 6 yards, then he vanished, finishing the game with 5 more yards on 3 more carries. Andre Williams was again mostly a no-show with 13 yards on 4 carries but his 5-yard run right into Rolando McClain’s kitchen was a thing of beauty. Once a game, Williams seems to deliver a phlegm-loosening hit on some defender, perfect tonic for cold and flu season.

Wide Receivers

Odell Beckham Jr. opened the account for the WRs with a 10-yard grab on the Giants’ second possession, and I have to say, an odd reaction as he got up and shook himself at CB Brandon Carr. I like the fire, but once in a while ODB does something that looks like a hissy fit. At some point, he needs to be more composed. It wasn’t until the Giants were able to establish the run that ODB was able to do some damage and the second-year phenom had another shot at a miracle catch against Carr but wasn’t able to replicate the magic of his previous catch at MetLife. Rueben Randle was the most effective target Eli had, despite only getting his hands on 2 balls, which is fine if you’re giving a physical but not for an NFL receiver. Randle turned his head and coughed enough to haul in a beautiful arcing pass from Manning that covered 44 yards with the Giants in the shadow of their own end zone. Randle pulled in the 3rd-and-5 pass with one hand and gave the Giants life enough to push ahead to a 20-13 lead. But in a game of weird plays, Randle just dropped a ball right in his hands on a perfectly-thrown post by Manning that could have been a TD or led to a TD.

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell got started early, picking up a first down on the second play of the game, and another two plays later. Then he simply disappeared like most Giant aerial targets did and finished with 4 grabs for 18 yards on 5 targets. Donnell did have a great block on Vereen’s 39-yard scamper, getting good position and holding his block long enough to spring the diminutive back. Will Tye wasn’t able to handle his first target on a Manning pass on 3rd-and-4, killing the Giants’ first drive. And that was it for the rookie TE.

Offensive Line

Does anyone else kinda miss Will Beatty? The combo of Geoff Schwartz and Marshall Newhouse killed a TD chance by getting blown past by Greg Hardy and Tyrone Crawford. Newhouse again struggled at times, giving up an early near-sack to DE Jeremy Mincey that was mercifully called an incompletion. Other than those two hiccups, a much better day than most had anticipated against the suddenly healthy and dangerous Cowboys’ DL spearheaded by Greg Hardy, who wasn’t exactly Anton Chigurh as many had anticipated going into this tilt. This group bounced back exactly how you’d hoped they would after the debacle in Philadelphia, a great sign going forward that this group is going to fight no matter who’s in front of them. The big boys up front paved the way for their first 100 yarder of the year. They may have found their staple running play, an inside trap that Jennings got 8 and 6 yards on early, and Darkwa utilized for the big gain below:

darkwa2At the snap, LG Justin Pugh pulls, OC Weston Richburg blocks down and RG Geoff Schwartz and RT Marshall Newhouse double the DT opposite of Richburg, creating an A Gap hole. The problem is LBs Rolando McClain and Sean Lee sit in wait to maintain their gaps.

darkwa3Pugh pulling entices Lee and McClain to follow him and Darkwa has a decision to make, follow his lead guard on a trap off tackle or hit the A gap. Darkwa makes a sudden head fake towards Pugh, Lee commits and McClain takes too long to react.

darkwa4The head fake buys Darkwa the time to burst through the A gap and pick up 9 yards as Pugh’s pulling draws the LBs attention. Credit to Richburg for an outstanding power block on the play.

C Weston Richburg had his best game of the year, consistently turning his man out of the hole to lead the way for the Giants rushing attack. Richburg had the key block on Darkwa’s TD run and 9-yard jaunt just moments earlier. LT Ereck Flowers had no trouble with anyone this time out and is fast becoming a rock on the OL. RG Geoff Schwartz gave up the sack to Hardy, who I loathe, so Schwartz gets the gas face. LG Justin Pugh was solid and his leads on the traps did their job – a solid day for the former Syracuse man.

Defensive Line

Horrible, just horrible. 233 yards to a one-dimensional team with no one at RB is abysmal. Not one player on this DL looked like anything but a small bump on a putt-putt course, the one that kinda gets in the way but ultimately doesn’t hinder you on your way to mini-golf glory. The edge containment was non-existent and BBI favorite, DE Kerry Wynn, was downright putrid, first biting inside on a Joseph Randle run on the Cowboys’ first possession and then completely losing contain on his side while simply being erased on a McFadden run on the Cowboys’ first TD drive. Wynn wasn’t alone in his crapitude. DT Markus Kuhn stood straight up and got himself taken out of the hole and pushed backwards on a McFadden 9-yard run. Not to be outdone, DE Robert Ayers gave up his lane and inexplicably chased Matt Cassel as McFadden scooted by as evidenced by this nauseating sequence. The circles indicate where Kuhn and Ayers SHOULD be; they do not make it so.

Kuhn1Kuhn starts in the A (between center and guard) gap, with DE Robert Ayers seemingly responsible for the C gap (outside the OT).

kuhn2Kuhn spots a penny on the turf (and OG Zach Martin peeks over his shoulder for a look see), instead of staying home to take on the block from TE Jason Witten and create some traffic for McFadden…

kuhn3Ayers completely abandons his gap, preferring to see what type of shoe Matt Cassel has on in lieu of taking down a ball carrier. Kuhn goes from zero to blocked faster than any DT I can remember. It has to be the fine German engineering that enables such raw speed. And there is no penny, just a gaping hole for McFadden to exploit.

DT Jay Bromley didn’t fare much better, consistently getting turned out of the hole and giving up leverage far too easily. And naturally it was Kuhn being destroyed on the Cowboys’ first TD of the game. The middle of this defense simply struggles when #78 is on the field. I have no idea how not one coach sees this. Ayers flat out missed on an easy interception chance that Cassel threw right at him, and didn’t have much impact in his first action in weeks. DE George Selvie was solid in spots as was Jon Hankins and Cullen Jenkins, but as a unit, no pressure and 233 yards rushing means you all get an F.


When your starting trio of LBs racks up 24 tackles, something ain’t stirring the Kool-Aid Ace. J.T. Thomas got caught for a late hit on the Cowboys’ first TD drive, just a bad error when the Giants were struggling to stop anything. But the call was iffy at best. The former Mountaineer finished with 6 stops. For the most part, this group was jumping on and dragging down anything that ambled past our DL and that was pretty much everyone with a star on their helmet. Really very little impact despite all of the tackle numbers. I guess it’s good they tackled? Jon Casillas again chipped in with 7 stops, but for the life of me, I can’t remember any of them. Veteran Jon Beason did a lot of dirty work in between the big guys, piling up 11 stops in a game that had to feel like a game of bumper pool for former Cane, with Beason playing the role of the ball. Tough day all around for the defense’s second level against the running game. They were consistently dealing with 300 pounders bearing down them as the DL failed to do anything to slow the tide.

Defensive Backs

DRC, take a bow. Hell take two or three, just don’t pull anything or you’ll be on IR by Saturday. The highly-paid and highly-productive CB was sensational despite a very iffy holding call that gave the Boys a first down as the first half wound down. DRC nearly had a first-half TD by jumping Cole Beasley’s out route. He jumped the exact same route on the Cowboys’ first possession of the second half and catapulted the Giants to a 17-13 lead. DRC wasn’t done, snatching another Cassel pass over the middle as the 4th quarter opened with the Cowboys again driving. S Brandon Meriweather took advantage of an awful Cassel pass midway through the third quarter and gave the G-Men the ball back at their own one-foot line. The former Cane did get bowled over by Darren McFadden on the Cowboys’ next possession, but Meriweather notched 7 tackles and a pick and was counted on heavily to shore up the back end of a fragile defense. And he did just that with a swat of a 3rd down pass late in the 4th quarter that helped snuff out the Cowboys’ final shot to score. CB Jayron Hosley wasn’t good at all. Hosley gave up big gains to Terrence Williams and got out-worked on a Brice Butler reception. If not for a bad Cassel pass, he was beaten badly on Meriweather’s interception. S Landon Collins notched 9 stops but he was slow in reacting to WR Devin Street and gave up the game-tying TD. Collins continued his rugged work against the run, spending plenty of time in the box, but he too shoulders some of the blame for the 233-yard mashing.

Special Teams

Special, neato, super, competent. None of these would describe the Giants’ special teams units under blackmail specialist Tom Quinn for several years, until now. Clearly Quinn’s 9-year plan is finally coming to fruition, he knew it all along. ST ace Dwayne Harris started the day with a drag down of Cole Beasley on P Brad Wing’s second punt and finished in style with a 100-yard, stadium-rocking kickoff return that punctuated an odd afternoon of weird statistics, big plays and Greg Hardy tirades. Credit LB Jonathan Casillas with an outstanding lead on Harris’ return. The coverage units were again outstanding, holding the Cowboys to 73 total return yards. Josh Brown, the cyborg kicker, again made all of his kicks.


DC Steve Spagnuolo had no answers for a Cowboys’ running game that pounded out 233 yards. In their first 4 games, the Giants had the #1 rush defense in the league, giving up 279 yards and 69.75 ypg. In their last 3, the G-Men have surrendered 515 yards or 171.6 per game. That’s a full 100 yards per game MORE over our last 3 contests. That simply has to improve. Spags’ maddening decision to use DT Markus Kuhn extensively is reaching Tom Quinn-like proportions. What does Kuhn know and how does he know it? How is he using it to force his way onto the field and who if anyone can stop the big German? I’ll give Spags credit for dialing up a lot of pressure to force 3 interceptions. But I have to ask, what in the H E double hockey sticks is this? 3rd-and-4 and Kerry Wynn, Robert Ayers, Cullen Jenkins and George Selvie line up tight to put pressure on Matt Cassel…dun dun dunn or do they???


zone2Yeah that’s right, 3 DL drop into coverage, Cassel misfires outside and DRC almost takes it to the house….a portend of things to come? Has ANYONE ever seen 3 DL drop into coverage???? This has to be a first for Spags.

When the Giants did use a 3-4 front with Ayers and Kennard at OLB, they fared much better against the Cowboys edge-heavy running game. But the Giants routinely returned to the 4-3 and the trampling continued for most of the contest. Credit Spags though for thoroughly confusing the veteran Cassel which led to 2 of the 3 interceptions the Giants used to pull this game out.

OC Ben McAdoo, I don’t know what to make of again. Darkwa explodes for 41 yards on 4 carries and then gets sprinkled in 4 more times total. Odell Beckham Jr. did very little and Eli Manning really only took two shots, one caught and one dropped. However, the running game worked better than it has all season with the addition of Darkwa. Credit McAdoo for adding in the former Tulane star; it paid off with 132 yards on the ground. So Mr. McAdoo, you stress balance in distributing the ball and you don’t like to threaten teams deep very often and it’s resulted in back-to-back poor output by your franchise QB and talented WRs. A win in this campaign though is a win even if your offense only managed 13 points against an outfit that surrendered 39 to the Falcons, 30 to the Patriots and 335 passing yards to the ghost of Drew Brees.

Cram it in your Cramhole Award

Greg Hardy, you sir may cram it in your cramhole. By it, I mean everything you can find – guns, clipboards, horrible rap CDs with your nails-on-a-chalkboard voice on them. Hardy simply didn’t show for practice last Thursday, slapped his ST Coach’s clip board out of his hand, continued going apey for several minutes and he wasn’t even listening to the Soggy Bottom Boys. Even Dez Bryant looked sane in comparison during the duos heated exchange following Harris’ TD return. We were able to contact Daniel in MI, who unofficially didn’t give us any audio that is not certainly accurate. But here’s what we found when reading the lips of Bryant and Hardy…or at least we had the clip running on the laptop while we decided on what to have for dinner. And the results are shocking and probably fabricated.

Dez Bryant: Y’all gettin’ any rain up your way?
Greg Hardy: What way would that be?
Dez Bryant: I seen you was from Dallas.
Greg Hardy: What business is it of yours where I’m from, friendo?
Dez Bryant: I didn’t mean nothin’ by it.
Greg Hardy: Didn’t mean nothin’.
Dez Bryant: I was just passin’ the time. If you don’t wanna accept that I don’t know what else to do for you. Will there be something else?
Greg Hardy: I don’t know. Will there?
Dez Bryant: Is somethin’ wrong?
Greg Hardy: With what?
Dez Bryant: With anything?
Greg Hardy: Is that what you’re asking me? Is there something wrong with anything?
Dez Bryant: Will there be anything else?
Greg Hardy: You already asked me that.
Dez Bryant: Well… I need to see about closin’.
Greg Hardy: See about closing.
Dez Bryant: Yessir.
Greg Hardy: What time do you close?
Dez Bryant: Now. We close now.
Greg Hardy: Now is not a time. What time do you close?

(Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants, October 25, 2015)
Oct 252015
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Jonathan Casillas, New York Giants (October 25, 2015)

Jonathan Casillas – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It wasn’t pretty, but the New York Giants found a way to win a game where they were very much out-played on both lines of scrimmage on Sunday at MetLife Stadium as the Giants defeated the Cowboys 27-20. With the victory, the Giants improved their overall record to 4-3 and their divisional record to 2-2.

The Cowboys vastly out-gained the Giants in first downs (27-13), third-down efficiency (55 percent to 27 percent), total net yards (460 to 289), net yards rushing (233 to 132), net yards passing (227 to 157), and time of possession (38:04 to 21:56). But the Giants won the turnover battle (4 to 0) and scored touchdowns on defense and special teams.

The Giants received the football to start the game, picked up a couple of first downs, but were then forced to punt. The Cowboys drove 68 yards in 11 plays on their first possession but settled for a 30-yard field goal to go up 3-0 early.

After both teams exchanged punts, the Giants scored their only offensive touchdown of the game by marching 79 yards in seven plays to take a 7-3 lead on running back Orleans Darkwa’s 15-yard touchdown run. The Cowboys immediately cut into that advantage after the ensuing kickoff went out-of-bounds and the Cowboys managed to gain 30 yards in six plays to set up a 48-yard field goal. Giants 7 – Cowboys 6.

The Giants went three-and-out on their ensuing possession and Dallas then regained the lead by driving 72 yards in just six plays. The drive was aided by three defensive penalties and culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Darren McFadden, who would finish the game with 152 yards rushing on 29 carries. Cowboys 13 – Giants 7.

With 2:17 to go before halftime, the Giants did manage to cut into that score with an 8-play, 51-yard drive that set up a 47-yard field goal by place kicker Josh Brown. The big play on the drive was a 38-yard pass from quarterback Eli Manning to wide receiver Dwayne Harris. At the half, the Cowboys led 13-10.

The Cowboys received the football to start the second half and turned it over on their first three possessions after the break. First, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie picked off quarterback Matt Cassel at the Giants’ 42-yard line and returned the interception 58 yards for the defensive score. The Giants were now up 17-13.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (October 25, 2015)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Dallas crossed midfield on their second possession but a deep pass by Cassel was underthrown and intercepted by safety Brandon Meriweather at the Giants’ 1-yard line. Aided by a 44-yard reception by wide receiver Rueben Randle and a 39-yard run by running back Shane Vereen, the Giants were able to extend their lead to 20-13 on Josh Brown’s 34-yard field goal.

Cassel threw his third interception of the game on the Cowboys’ third possession of the half. Rodgers Cromartie picked off his second pass of the game at the Giants’ 22-yard line and returned it 12 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Giants picked up only one first down and were forced to punt. Dallas then proceeded to tie the game at 20-20 by driving 80 yards in nine plays with Cassel finding wide receiver Devin Street for a 25-yard touchdown midway through the final quarter.

Then came the play of the game when Dwayne Harris returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

Dwayne Harris, New York Giants (October 25, 2015)

Dwayne Harris – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Dallas still had two opportunities to tie the game. The Cowboys drove from their own 31-yard line to the Giants’ 30-yard line with just over two minutes to play. After two plays picked up no yards, the Cowboys went for it on 4th-and-8 but failed to convert when tight end James Hanna was stopped two yards short of the first-down marker.

The Giants were not able to run out the clock but they did force the Cowboys to spend all three of their timeouts before punting. Brad Wing’s punt was muffed by Dallas returner Cole Beasley and recovered by Giants’ wide receiver Myles White with 1:26 to play. The Giants then knelt on the ball to win the game.

Manning finished the game 13-of-24 for 170 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. The leading receivers were wideout Odell Beckham (4 catches for 35 yards), tight end Larry Donnell (4 catches for 18 yards), Randle (2 catches for 68 yards), and Harris (2 catches for 43 yards). The leading rushers were Vereen (4 carries for 56 yards) and Darkwa (8 carries for 48 yards).

Rodgers-Cromartie had two interceptions, one for a touchdown. Meriweather had the other interception. Linebacker Jon Beason led the team with 11 tackles. Defensive end Georgie Selvie and defensive tackle Markus Kuhn shared the team’s only sack. Selvie was credited with three quarterback hits and defensive Robert Ayers with two.

Video highlights/lowlights and post-game locker room celebration are available at Giants.com.

CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (finger) and DE Robert Ayers Jr. (concussion evaluation) left the game but returned. DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (hamstring) and LB J.T. Thomas (ankle) were both injured during the game and did not return.

Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Tom Coughlin and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

Inactive for the Giants were WR Victor Cruz (calf), LB Uani ‘Unga (neck), CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral), CB Brandon McGee (back), DE Damontre Moore, DT Louis Nix, and OT Bobby Hart.

The Giants broke a five-game losing streak to Dallas. It was their first home victory vs. the Cowboys since January 1, 2012, the night they clinched the NFC East title on their way to Super Bowl XLVI.

The Giants have won their first two NFC East home games for the first time since 2009.

This was first game in which the Giants scored on both an interception return and a kickoff return since November 4, 1951. Tom Landry returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown, and Emlen Tunnell brought back a kickoff 100 yards for another score in a 37-31 victory over the New York Yanks.

The Giants rushed for 132 yards, their first 100-yard game since they ran for 128 yards at St. Louis on December 21, 2014. They had not rushed for 100 yards in seven consecutive games, and had been the only NFL team without a 100-yard rushing game this season.

The Giants did not commit a turnover in two games vs. the Cowboys this season.

Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning each reached milestones with the victory. Coughlin won his 100th regular-season game with the Giants, and Manning his 95th. Coughlin joined Hall of Famer Steve Owen as the only coaches in the 91-season history of the franchise to reach 100 regular-season victories. Owen had 153 victories from 1930-53. Manning’s 95th regular-season victory tied Phil Simms’ franchise record. The veteran quarterback and team captain presented a game ball to Coughlin in the postgame locker room.

Coughlin became the seventh coach in NFL history with at least 100 victories and at least two Super Bowl wins with one franchise. The others are Bill Belichick, Joe Gibbs, Tom Landry, Chuck Noll, Mike Shanahan, and Don Shula.

Harris tied the franchise record for longest kickoff return touchdown. Tunnell returned a kickoff 100 yards vs. the New York Yankees on November 4, 1951, and Clarence Childs matched him against Minnesota on December 6, 1964. It was Harris’ first career kickoff return touchdown.

Josh Brown kicked field goals of 47 and 34 yards. He has now made 19 consecutive field goal attempts, breaking the team record of 17 he set from October 6 – December 29, 2013.


Oct 232015
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New York Giants (December 16, 1962)

New York Giants (December 16, 1962)

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants, October 25, 2015

We’re six games into the season with 10 regular-season games left to go. Everyone in the NFC East is still bunched together. At 0-2, the Giants looked dead in the water. But then Tony Romo and Dez Bryant got hurt in Dallas. And the Eagles, with their quarterback in particular, have looked mediocre at best. The Giants went on a three-game winning streak and unbelievably found themselves in first place in the division. They did so by playing hard and being more physical than their opponents.

That all changed last Monday night when the Giants continually shot themselves in the foot against the Eagles. Losing a football game because you make more mistakes than the other team is no great sin. But getting punched in the face by a division rival that has now beaten you 12 time in the last 15 games and rolling over is. The game was very much within reach still in the 3rd quarter, but the offense – which is supposed to be carry the team – went into a shell and for all intents and purposes, quit. A Philadelphia team that simply isn’t all that good bullied them into submission. The Giants were supposed to be past these type of uncompetitive blowouts.

“We just didn’t play the way we’ve been playing and, quite frankly, I was shocked by it,” said Tom Coughlin. “Where do these things come from and why at that point in time?…You keep moping along doing nothing…You can’t play like that. It’s too important…Do we remind them? We remind them so much they may be sick and tired of hearing about it.”

“We’ve got to be able to handle the big games,” said Coughlin. “The games where things don’t go our way, we’ve got to handle them better. You’ve got handle those situations better.”

So now the Giants find themselves at 3-3. Not great, but not bad. The problem is they are now 1-2 in a division that likely will not have a Wild Card playoff team. They now face the other team in the division that has owned them in recent years, as the Cowboys have won five in a row against the Giants and were a finger-tip away from winning seven in a row.

Ever since the Cowboys lost Romo and Bryant, Dallas’ strategy was simply to stay afloat until those two return. The Cowboys are close to succeeding despite their three-game losing streak because the division is so bad. The 2-3 Cowboys are 2-0 in the NFC East while the 3-3 Giants and 3-3 Eagles are 1-2 in the division. Bryant is on the verge of returning, and Romo may be back next month. Dallas has the best offensive line and defense in the division. If Dallas sweeps the Giants for the third year in a row, they have to like their chances of running away with NFC East.

On the other hand, if the Giants don’t win this game, they may be out of the division race before November for the third year in a row. Given the state of the NFC East (and the NFL) the last few years, that’s a very disturbing trend. But more may be at stake here than simply another lost season.

The Giants went into Philadelphia against a team that had not been playing well, and one that turned the football over four times in the game, and still lost by 20 points. The head coach of the Giants readily admits he was shocked and confused by the performance. Now the Giants will face the Romo-less Cowboys at home. If the Giants with $100 million franchise QB Eli Manning cannot beat either the Sam Bradford-led Eagles or Matt Cassel-led Cowboys in back-to-back weeks with the season on the line, then something is wrong and will have to change. There is no excuse for the Cowboys and Eagles dominating the Giants so completely in recent years. The new contract the Giants gave Manning in September guarantees they cannot trade or cut him in 2016. But everyone else is on the chopping block, including the coaching staff.

Win and arrow is pointing up. Lose, and the Giants will need a miracle to stay relevant despite being given a second chance this season. Ownership, management, coaches, medical/training staff, and players have no one to blame but themselves for the position they find themselves in. Team officials listed in the media guide other than the coaching staff should also be on notice here. Everyone’s gotten far too comfortable with the status quo.


  • WR Odell Beckham (hamstring – questionable)
  • WR Rueben Randle (hamstring – probable)
  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – out)
  • OT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP/out)
  • DE Robert Ayers (hamstring – probable)
  • DT Johnathan Hankins (calf – probable)
  • LB Devon Kennard (hamstring – probable)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (neck – questionable)
  • LB Jon Beason (knee – probable)
  • LB Uani ‘Unga (neck – questionable)
  • CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral – out)
  • CB Trumaine McBride (groin – questionable)
  • CB Trevin Wade (concussion – probable)
  • CB Brandon McGee (back – questionable)

The Giants have a $100 million quarterback. They have invested two #1 draft picks, a #2 draft pick, and spent $17 million on a free agent offensive guard. They have arguably a top-5 wide receiver and one of the best pass-receiving backs in football. There is enough talent here to score more than 10 points in a game against your division rivals. Everything can’t be “perfect” for Eli Manning to carry this team. If it has to be perfect, than he really isn’t a franchise QB. The Giants’ defense was responsible for 17 of the 26 points scored in the first match-up against Dallas. And the Giants offense scored only 7 points against the Eagles. That’s 16 total offensive points in two games against the Cowboys and Eagles.

Dallas’ defense held the Giants to less than 300 yards of offense in the first game, and that was without two of their very best defensive players – DE Greg Hardy and LB Rolando McClain. Both players have given the Giants fits in the past (Hardy with the Panthers). The Cowboys now have the makings of a very, very good front seven with good players across the defensive line and at linebacker. The Cowboys will no doubt see what we saw on tape against the Eagles: they will focus on the Giants short passing game because they will trust their front seven to stuff the run, and trust their pass rush to get to Manning on any deeper passing attempts. More than anything, Dallas will simply expect to be the more physical football team since they saw what happened when Philly got rough with them.

Strategy will be important, but this game will be more about attitude. Are Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, Geoff Schwartz, Marshall Newhouse, the tight ends, and fullback tough enough? Can they generate room for the running backs and protect Eli Manning? Will “good” Eli show up against the Cowboys? The answers to those questions will determine the game.

Though banged up, the Giants should have everyone on defense except for Prince Amukamara. If I’m Jason Garrett, I simply rely on my running game and defense to win this game. Matt Cassel is an upgrade over Brandon Weeden as he has started 72 regular-season games in this league. He just has to manage the game. So the game-plan is pretty clear for New York. Stuff the run and don’t let all-time Giants-killer Jason Witten beat you. Make Cassel and his wide receivers beat you. A huge match-up in this game will be the nickel back (McBride or Wade) against Cole Beasley. The Giants also need a strong performance out of Jayron Hosley, who will be filling in for Amukamara for the second game in a row. The Cowboys sometimes will cross the Giants up too by passing to the back-up tight ends. Get off of the field on third down and get the ball back for the offense in good field position. Running game, Witten, Beasley…those are the three keys.

The Cowboys special teams have taken a step back this year. The Giants need to come up big here not only in coverage, but in the return game.

Tom Coughlin: “We’ve got to be able to handle the big games.”

This is as big as it gets during the regular season. The Giants attempted to remain relevant in must-win games against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium in each of the last two seasons and came up short. Ominously, they find themselves in the same position again, this time against a back-up quarterback and a team missing its top offensive weapon. If the third time isn’t the charm, then something is seriously wrong. I don’t want to be talking draft in November for the third year in a row.

Sep 172015
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 13, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The NFL has acknowledged that officials made two game-altering mistakes during the New York Giants 27-26 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday night. The first was a bogus pass interference call on cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromarties on a 3rd-and-4 incomplete pass that directly led to a Cowboys touchdown in the third quarter. Worse, the officials did not call an obvious holding penalty by a Dallas defensive back against tight end Daniel Fells on the now infamous 3rd-and-goal incomplete pass by quarterback Eli Manning with 1:43 to play. If that flag had been thrown, the Giants could have simply knelt on the ball and run out the clock, winning 26-20.

Not practicing on Thursday due to injuries were WR Victor Cruz (calf), TE Daniel Fells (foot), LT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot), and DT Markus Kuhn (knee).

“(Cruz has been) working and he’s doing more and more,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “But they’re not even at the stage where they’re really going to bring him out and turn him loose—let him run for a while—before they make a decision on whether he can practice. So that’s all forthcoming.”

Coughlin said Odighizuwa tried to practice on Wednesday and could not go again on Thursday. “He gets going a little bit, then he gets sore and he has to come out,” said Coughlin.

LB Jon Beason (knee) returned to practice and practiced on a limited basis.

LT Ereck Flowers (ankle) and LB Uani’ Unga (knee) fully practiced.

The New York Daily News has published exclusive photographs of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul’s right hand that he damaged in a July 4th fireworks accident.


Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:


Instead of practicing, the Giants will hold a “recovery day” on Friday. The players will select two of six recovery stations, based on seniority. Their choices are massage, yoga, FMS (Functional Movement Screen) exercises designed for the individual, air compression boots, contrast bath (between a hot and cold tub), and self-massage with stick rollers and elastic bands.

The Giants will also have a 45-minute, full-speed practice on Saturday that is not open to the media.

Sep 142015
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Dallas Cowboys 27 – New York Giants 26

Game Overview

In 20 years of writing or editing game reviews, I’ve noted that Giants fans don’t have much patience or desire to read lengthy reviews after a painful loss, so I will keep this one short and sweet.

Giants fans (and the coaches and players) need to get over this “woe is me” crap right now. Every week in the NFL you see a game that another team screws up badly, and fans will gather around the water cooler on Monday morning and say, “Did you see that game? Man, did that team blow it or what?” Well, Giants fans, this week it was unfortunately our team. It happens. Get over it. Move on. The Giants are only 0-1, losing a close game that most didn’t give them a chance to win. That’s all. They didn’t get knocked out of the playoffs.

But before we totally close the books on this one, let’s look at this game in a broader context instead of discussing the painful final two minutes.

In many ways, the Giants were lucky to be in this game. Consider the following:

  • If you told me before the game that the Cowboys would out-gain the Giants in first downs 27 to 18, total net yards 436 to 289, and net passing yards 356 to 193, I would have told you that the Giants got badly beaten.
  • If you told me that Dallas would dominate the time of possession 37:10 to 22:50, New York must have gotten killed.
  • The Giants were 25 percent (1-of-4) in the red zone while the Cowboys were 60 percent (3-of-5). Sayonara.
  • The Cowboys were 6-of-11 (55 percent) on third down. Must have been a blowout.
  • Tony Romo wasn’t sacked only once and only officially hit once? Yikes.
  • If you told me that Eli Manning passed for less than 200 yards, Odell Beckham only caught 44 yards, and the offense never really had a touchdown drive, then the Giants must have lost by 30.

This game was only close because of three Cowboys turnovers that directly resulted in 17 of New York’s 26 points. The Giants did not have one turnover. That said, the Giants offense really only generated nine points off of three of their ten possessions. The Cowboys all but handed this game to the Giants. New York refused to take it. Too bad. But the better team on this night ultimately won. Now it’s time to move on and get better.


Eli was not helped by dropped passes, but he was clearly out-played by Tony Romo who is now the comeback king in this rivalry. Obviously, Manning should have taken a sack on the final play. Another bone-headed decision from a veteran quarterback who should know better. I love ya Eli, but c’mon.

Running Backs

The Giants only had 33 rushing yards by halftime but finished with 99 yards (80 from the running backs). One third of those 80 yards came on a 27-yard run by Rashad Jennings on the final field goal drive. The Giants obviously need more consistent productivity out their run game. Andre Williams continues to under-perform and the Giants may want to consider promoting Orleans Darkwa in his place.

If true, the real gut-wrenching issue was supposedly Jennings was told not to score on at least 1st-and-goal from the 4-yard line in order to run more time off of the clock. “As a running back, it’s really tough when they tell you not to score,” Jennings said. (Late note: Manning said he was confused about the timeout situation and that he mistaken told Jennings not to score).

Wide Receivers

A major disappointment. “Superstar” Odell Beckham caught five passes for 44 yards (8.8 yards per catch). That’s not going to get it done. Neither is Preston Parker (2 catches for 26 yards) dropping three passes on third down or Rueben Randle only catching three passes for 23 yards. Dwayne Harris wasn’t even targeted. The wide receivers were a major reason why the team lost the game. Want some optimism moving forward? My guess is that this is the worst game this group will play all season.

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells caught six passes for 54 yards. The Giants would have won the game had the officials called the beyond obvious holding penalty on Fells on 3rd-and-goal. Shame on the NFL.

Offensive Line

Not bad, but not great. More optimism? This is a unit that should continue to grow and improve with more playing time. The Giants rushed for nearly 100 yards but need greater consistency in the ground game. Eli Manning was sacked once and officially hit only four times.

Defensive Line

The Giants did a better job of stopping Darren McFadden (6 carries for 16 yards) than they did Joseph Randle (16 carries for 65 yards). The ends still need to hold their ground better. But the Giants did a reasonable job of defending a very good run-blocking offensive line by holding the Cowboys to 81 rushing yards. The pass rush was virtually non-existent except for a few pressures by Robert Ayers. Cullen Jenkins may improve the run defense at end, but he can’t rush the passer from that position.


The problem was pass coverage. 22 of Tony Romo’s 36 completions went to running backs and tight ends for 199 yards. Unai’ Unga was put in a tough situation given his inexperience. I would have preferred Jonathan Casillas and J.T. Thomas – both supposedly strong in coverage – being on the field together on the final two drives. Strange decision by the defensive staff.

Defensive Backs

While the secondary deserves some of the blame for the productive night of the Dallas tight ends (i.e., Landon Collins on Jason Witten) and backs, the defensive backs played fairly well. Dallas’ longest pass of the night to a wideout was only 21 yards and Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley were held to 14 catches and 157 yards total. More importantly, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Trumaine McBride, and Brandon Meriweather were responsible for 14 of the Giants 26 points. The pass interference penalty on DRC on 3rd-and-4 was bullshit.

Special Teams

This was supposed to be a big advantage for the Cowboys but the Giants held their own. New punter Brad Wing punted well, averaging 45.5 net yards per punt. The coverage teams were solid. The Giants never had a chance to return six kickoffs (all touchbacks). Dwayne Harris only gained three yards on two punt returns. Josh Brown was 4-for-4 on field goal attempts and 2-for-2 on extra points.

Coaching Staff

Obviously there were some questionable decisions made, particularly late in the game on both sides of the football. Contrary to most, I don’t fault the staff for kicking the field goal on 4th down. Dallas has a great kicker and a field goal still could have sent the game into overtime. But passing the ball on 3rd down backfired. Uani’ Unga was put in a really tough spot.

(New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, September 13, 2015)
Sep 142015
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Uani' Unga, New York Giants (September 13, 2015)

Jason Witten Scores Game-Winning TD – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants had the Dallas Cowboys on the ropes but they let the game slip away in the final seconds as Dallas quarterback Tony Romo hit tight end Jason Witten for an 11-yard touchdown with seven seconds in the game to win 27-26. The touchdown catch culminated a far-too-easy 6-play, 72-yard drive in 87 seconds.

Making matters worse was the Giants had a chance to put the game away before the drive. Leading 23-20, the Giants had successfully driven from their own 20-yard line to the Dallas 4-yard line with 1:54 to play. After two runs by running back Rashad Jennings had picked up three yards and caused the Cowboys to spend their last timeouts, the Giants faced 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The Giants chose not to run the ball. Quarterback Eli Manning threw the ball away instead of taking a sack, causing the clock to stop. Declining to go for it on 4th-and-goal, Head Coach Tom Coughlin called for the field goal and the Giants only went up by six points.

Now a young Giants team will have to quickly recover emotionally from a devastating loss as the team will face the potentially dangerous Atlanta Falcons next Sunday at home.

In a game where the Giants defense was supposed to struggle and the offense was supposed to excel, the roles were reversed until the end of the contest. Not only did New York’s defense hold the Cowboys to only six first-half points, but the defense scored a touchdown after cornerback Trumaine McBride forced wide receiver Cole Beasley to fumble and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returned the loose ball 57 yards for a touchdown. On the ensuing drive, linebacker Uani’ Unga intercepted Romo at the Dallas 22-yard line, setting up a 40-yard field goal right before halftime.

Meanwhile, the Giants offense puttered for most of the first half, accruing only six first downs and 86 total yards (33 rushing and 53 passing). At the half, the Giants led 13-6.

The Giants received the ball to start the second half and went up 16-6 after a 12-play, 68-yard drive set up a 30-yard field goal. However, the Cowboys responded with a 9-play, 80-yard effort that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown pass to cut the New York advantage to 16-13. This drive was aided by a very questionable Rodgers-Cromartie pass interference penalty on a 3rd-and-4 incomplete pass.

The score stayed that way until midway through the fourth quarter. Safety Brandon Meriweather’s hard hit on a receiver caused an interception that was returned by McBride to the Cowboys 1-yard line. One play later, Jennings scored and the Giants had a 10-point lead with just over eight minutes to play.

But alas it was not to be as New York’s defense collapsed late. The Cowboys drove 76 yards in six plays to cut the score to 23-20 with five minutes to play. Then came the long drive by the Giants that almost sealed the deal until the red zone failure.

The Cowboys out-gained the Giants in first downs (27-18), total net yards (436 to 289), and net passing yards (356 to 190). The Giants slightly out-gained the Cowboys in rushing yards (99 to 80). The equalizer was the Cowboys turned the football over three times while the Giants did not turn it over at all.

Manning finished the game 20-of-36 for 193 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Wide receiver Odell Beckham only caught five passes for 44 yards. Running back Shane Vereen caught four passes for 46 yards. The leading rusher was Jennings who had 52 yards on 13 carries with a 27-yarder on New York’s last field goal drive.

While the New York defense did force three turnovers, they rarely touched Romo who was not sacked and only officially hit once.

Video highlights/lowlights of the game are available at Giants.com.

DT Markus Kuhn left the game in the second half with a knee sprain and did not return. LT Ereck Flowers injured his ankle but returned to the game.

Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Tom Coughlin and various players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Tom Coughlin (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Rueben Randle (Video)
  • LB J.T. Thomas (Video)
  • CB Trumaine McBride (Video)
  • S Landon Collins (Video)

Inactive for the Giants were WR Victor Cruz (calf), LB Jon Beason (knee), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot), S Cooper Taylor, TE Jerome Cunningham, OT Bobby Hart, and DT Louis Nix.

The Cowboys are 8-0 against the Giants in season openers.

The Cowboys have won five games in a row over the Giants.

According to FOX Sports, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has damage to three of the fingers on his right hand and Pierre-Paul had another skin graft procedure performed recently. In addition, because Pierre-Paul has not been able to lift weights, he has lost significant muscle mass. The Giants reportedly have told Pierre-Paul that they will re-evaluate his physical condition in six weeks.


Sep 112015
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New York Giants Game Program (December 16, 1962)

New York Giants Game Program (December 16, 1962)

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, September 13, 2015

If you want to know why the Giants have failed to make the playoffs the last three seasons, look no farther than their struggles to defeat their two most bitter division rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. In the last three years, the Giants are 2-4 against the Eagles and 1-5 against the Cowboys. Indeed, the Giants are a Dez Bryant finger tip away from being 0-6 against the Cowboys in the last three seasons. Beat the Eagles and Cowboys and 9-7 in 2012, 7-9 in 2013, and 6-10 in 2014 turn into 11-5, 10-6, and 10-6 and three division championships for the New York Giants.

To be blunt, while the games have all been very competitive, the Cowboys have owned the Giants in the last three seasons. The Giants have started off poorly in some games and had to play catch-up. But the biggest problem has been the Giants have not made the plays on offense and defense in the 4th quarter to win the games.

Most pundits do not give the Giants much of chance in this game. And there are good reasons to support that belief. The Giants may have a lot of talent on offense but they will be missing Victor Cruz and have big question marks at both offensive tackle positions. Most anticipate the no-name New York defensive line will be mauled by arguably the best offensive line in football. Jon Beason is hurting once again. And a combination of very inexperienced and veteran castoffs will try to man the middle of the secondary against one of the NFL’s most dangerous quarterbacks.

But this is Giants-Cowboys. The odds are the game will be closer than most believe. And the team that makes the fewest mistakes and makes the most plays in the 4th quarter is likely to win the contest.

THE INJURY REPORT: (Late note – Victor Cruz and Jon Beason will not play.)

  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – will not play)
  • OT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • DE Cullen Jenkins (hamstring – probable)
  • DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot – probable)
  • LB Jon Beason (knee – will not play)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (neck – probable)

On paper, the defense of the Dallas Cowboys looks underwhelming. The secondary is weak and missing their best defensive back, Orlando Scandrick, who is gone for the season. The Cowboys will also be missing two of their most important front-seven players due to suspensions (DE Greg Hardy and LB Rolando McClain). In fact, there are no real headliners on the defensive line.

But the Cowboys should not be underestimated on defense. They are extremely well-coached under Rod Marinelli’s more conservative bend-but-don’t-break 4-3 defense. The Cowboys force a lot of turnovers (2nd in the NFL with 31 in 2014). The Dallas linebackers such as the very talented but injury-prone Sean Lee get most of the media attention, but its their defensive line that causes more problems than one might expect.

“(The Cowboys) rely on the stunt game rather than pressure,” said Tom Coughlin. “They’re not a high-percentage pressure (blitzing) team. But they’re going to move that front all over the place, they’re not big. They’re penetrators, and they’re powerful. And then seeing (Tyrone) Crawford, he’ll knock the living daylights out of you. Ereck Flowers has this (Jeremy) Mincey guy. I hope he prepares himself, because he’s a powerful man for not a big man.”

Coach Coughlin hit the nail on the head. The physically underwhelming (6’4”, 285lbs) Crawford has given teams – especially the Giants – fits in the middle of the offensive line. It’s probably one of the reasons why the Giants have beefed up the middle of their offensive line with Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, and Geoff Schwartz. Mincey is not a top pass rusher, but he was the most consistent one for Dallas last season. And the Cowboys hope the undersized but athletic second-year end DeMarcus Lawrence gives Marshall Newhouse problems. Dallas has a number of young and athletic reserves, including rookie DE Randy Gregory, and they want to attack the Giants offensive line in waves.

But the Dallas defensive line is not big. In fact, outside of Mincey, it’s downright small. And because of that, they have to play twists and stunts up front to compensate. If the Giants offensive line can handle these defensive line games, then the Giants should be able to maul these guys. But that’s a big if. The Giants have not handled opposing defensive line movement well in recent years. There have been too many mental (not just physical) breakdowns.

The question for Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo is what is the best way to attack the Cowboys? Marinelli expects to give up yardage, but he’s counting on the Giants to make the mistake (turnover, penalty, inability to convert on 3rd down) to stall a drive. Do the Giants use the typical West Coast philosophy and mix up what has been an inconsistent running game with dink-and-dunk passes (especially to Shane Vereen) to attempt to matriculate the ball down the field on long drives? That puts the onus on the Giants being able to run the ball, plus not making the mistake. But it has to be a very attractive option too given the size disparity between the two lines. Or do the Giants put heavy pressure on their offensive tackles, take those 5- and 7-step drops, and throw deep to Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle? Obviously, there will be some mixture of both approaches, but it will be interesting to see where the emphasis is placed.

The Giants need a big game from Eli. He usually plays well against Dallas, especially in Dallas. The Giants may need some 4th quarter heroics from him. After leading the NFL with eight 4th quarter comebacks in 2011, Manning had three in 2012, two in 2013, and only one in 2014. That’s not all on him, but New York needs more from their $100 million man. They also need Odell to be Odell. Like in all sports, winners need their stars to make the big play in big moments. Beckham has the ability to single-handily take over this game if he doesn’t get too hyped.

Regardless of the tactical and strategic approach, probably the biggest key in this game for the Giants is to avoid turnovers. Too many Giants-Dallas games in recent years have been decided by killer turnovers that have resulted in defensive scores.

Except for when the Giants were playing against second- and third-team back-ups in the preseason finale, the starting Giants’ defense did not play well in the preseason. They could not stop the run. They could not rush the passer. They could not cover. They didn’t force turnovers. They have a completely new defensive scheme that they are still learning. The leader of the defense is a gimpy linebacker who seems to be held together with duct tape. The safety situation is a combination of youthful inexperience and veteran castoffs. And the team’s only defensive star sits at home after blowing off his finger. Not a pretty picture for a unit that now must face one of the NFL’s very best rushing and passing attacks.

The hope here is that the defensive wrinkles Steve Spagnuolo kept quiet during the preseason will cause the Cowboys mental rather than physical issues. Perhaps the offensive line is confused by different formations, techniques (where the defenders line up), and blitzes. However, it’s hard to imagine that the experienced Tony Romo will be confused by shifts in a secondary manned by a couple of green safeties however.

There are two clear apparent mismatches that work against the Giants: (1) Dallas’ excellent offensive line versus New York’s no-name and underwhelming defensive line, and (2) the Dallas passing game against the middle of New York’s secondary.

Dallas has three of the NFL’s best offensive linemen at left tackle, center, and right guard. It’s one of the reasons why Dallas was second in the NFL in rushing the football in 2014. DeMarco Murray may be in Philadelphia now, but the Cowboys can muscle and maul even good defensive lines. Their Achilles’ heel? Last season the Washington Redskins demonstrated that the young Cowboys line can still be confused with movement and blitzes. That’s hopefully where Steve Spagnuolo’s schemes come in. I would expect the Giants to blitz a lot, especially with Devon Kennard, J.T. Thomas, and Landon Collins. If Tony Romo has all day to throw throughout the contest, the Giants won’t win this game. But when when you live by the blitz, you often die by the blitz. The pressure will not only be on the blitzers to get to Romo and bring down the elusive quarterback, but to cover on the back end of the defense, especially against Dez Bryant. The good news for the Giants is that Prince Amukamara has done a good job on Bryant. They need more of the same from him as well as an outstanding game from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

More than the receivers outside, it’s the insider receivers who worry me. Tight end Jason Witten has been a Giant-killer over the years. And the reserve tight ends have also given the Giants problems in recent games. Throw in slot receiver Cole Beasley against Trevin Wade or Trumaine McBride or whomever is covering him and these look like problem areas. If I’m Dallas, I attack the middle of the defense over and over again. The key guy here for New York could be nickel linebacker Jonathan Casillas.

Much of this is moot however if the Giants can’t stop the run. You could hear that concern from Spagnuolo this week. “The bullets in the pass rush. Well, we’ve got enough there,” said Spagnuolo. “We’ve got to get them in those situations. I think that’s really important. Then we’ll let them go, see what happens.”

Can Johnathan Hankins, Markus Kuhn, Jay Bromley, Robert Ayers, Cullen Jenkins, Kerry Wynn, George Selvie, Damontre Moore, and Owamgabe Odighizuwa hold up at the point-of-attack and allow the linebackers and defensive backs to run to the ball carrier? The game is still usually decided in the trenches.

One final note. Just like I mentioned on the offensive side, on the defensive side turnovers are often the great equalizer. If the Giants can force some turnovers and win the turnover battle, they have a great shot to win this game.

Dallas is really, really good on special teams. Their place kicker is the best in the game and virtually perfect, including from long distance. Most of his kickoffs result in touchbacks and are not returned. The punter is very solid. And the Cowboys are very fast and aggressive on their coverage units. We’re going to find out very quickly if the $17 million the Giants spent to rip Dwayne Harris away from the Cowboys was money well spent. It will also be our first look at punter Brad Wing. How well he works as a holder with kicker Josh Brown on extra point and field goal attempts could be an issue.

Tom Coughlin on Dallas’ offense: “What they’ve done is they’ve taken the pressure off (of Tony Romo). The quarterback had a great year. They’re going to run, they’re going to run, they’re going to run, and hopefully we can do something about the run. The offensive line hasn’t changed.”

Both teams are pretty equal at quarterback and receiver. Dallas has better tight ends but the Giants probably have better running backs. The Giants’ top two corners on defense are much better than Dallas’ corners and there isn’t all that much difference on the defensive side of the ball. The bigger issue on defense is New York is a year behind the learning curve with their new scheme (too bad they waited a year on Spagnuolo).

Where are these two teams different? The offensive line. New York may be catching up with the recent additions of Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, and Geoff Schwartz but they are not there yet. But this unit could make quite a statement and win the game for their team if they somehow managed to out-perform their much touted Dallas counterparts. The odds are, however, that Ereck Flowers will look like a struggling rookie. And there is a big concern about how Marshall Newhouse will do at right tackle.

This is a good time for the Giants to catch Dallas. They had a lot of nagging injuries in camp that prevented them from practicing and playing together. Two of their best players are suspended. Dallas played like crap in their opener last year. The Giants have a good chance here to pull off the upset. Win the turnover battle and they’ll do it.

Nov 242014
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Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (November 23, 2014)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Dallas Cowboys 31 – New York Giants 28

Game Overview

The catch was nice, but who really cares? The Giants are 3-8, losers of six straight and one of the worst teams in the NFL.

Last week’s game review started off with the following sentence:

It was a close game and the Giants came very close to pulling off the upset, but this team finds new ways to lose every week.

Did it really surprise anyone that the NFL’s 31st-ranked defense allowed the Cowboys to march 80 yards in seven plays and two minutes for the game-winning drive? Did it surprise anyone that the Giants couldn’t even gain one first down in their last desperate attempt to tie the game?

The fans and media expect the New York Giants to lose every week. But what’s worse, the New York Giants players expect to lose every week now. Two and a half seasons removed from their last NFL Championship, the cultural mindset of this team has changed completely.

But hey, at least ownership is happy.

Robert Tisch after Dallas scores its first touchdown

Steve Tisch after Dallas scores its first touchdown

Offensive Overview

The Giants out-gained the Cowboys in total yards (417 to 385), first downs (27 to 18), and time of possession (35:07 to 24:53). The Giants were nearly 70 percent on their third-down conversions (11-of-16). Both teams committed one turnover. The Giants had fewer penalties. The Giants ran more offensive plays (74 to 53). With numbers like that, you expect to come out on top.

Not counting their last possession in the second quarter (9 seconds left), the Giants had four first-half possessions and scored touchdowns on three of them, including drives of 13 plays and 80 yards, 6 plays and 66 yards, and 11 plays and 80 yards. At the half, the Giants led 21-10.

In the second half, the offense cooled dramatically. In hindsight, the Giants were too conservative on their first two series of the third quarter. The Giants went three-and-out on their first two possessions, drove to the Dallas 18 before Eli threw a killer interception, and then punted again. By this point in the game, the Cowboys had gone up 24-21.

Finally with nine minutes to go, New York drove the ball 93 yards in 14 plays, taking over six minutes off of the clock to regain the lead 28-24. But the Giants’ defense quickly surrendered the lead again. With one minute to go, the Giants had a legitimate opportunity to at least give Josh Brown a chance to tie the game, but New York couldn’t pick up one first down and turned the football over on downs. Six second half possessions – one score. Not good enough.


Again without a viable running game (2.8 yards per carry) and inconsistent pass protection, Eli Manning played mostly well and finished the game 29-of-40 for 338 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception (112.3 quarterback rating).

Those are very strong numbers – and usually game-winning numbers.

But the one interception when the Giants were driving for a touchdown late in the third quarter is what most people will remember, not the four long touchdown drives orchestrated by him.

On 2nd-and-10 from the Dallas 18-yard line, Manning had WR Preston Parker running absolutely free over the middle of the defense. Eli’s pass was high and intercepted. The pick was returned 45 yards and the Cowboys scored four plays later. It was a 10 or 14 point swing in the game.

Missed opportunity #1

Missed opportunity #1

“Just high, just threw it high,” said Manning. “(Parker) was a little flatter than I anticipated and just kind of… no excuse though, you’ve got a guy running open, I’ve got to hit him right in the numbers.”

Head Coach Tom Coughlin also seemed to suggest that there was an issue with the route by Parker.

“There was a little bit more of an adjustment that had to be made in the route and that was the expectation,” said Coughlin. “As a result, the ball was thrown high and it ended up being a tipped ball.”

Following up this screw-up, on the very next possession, Eli missed seeing Beckham breaking free for what should have been an 87-yard touchdown.

Missed opportunity #2

Missed opportunity #2

To Eli’s credit, he helped to orchestrate the 14-play, 93-yard drive in the 4th quarter that gave the Giants a 28-24 lead with three minutes to go. He had one last opportunity to tie the game late, but his offensive line didn’t give him the time.

Running Backs

A common theme in all six straight losses? The Giants can’t run the football. Rashad Jennings carried the ball 19 times for 52 yards (2.7 yards per carry) and Andre Williams carried the ball 10 times for 35 yards (3.5 yards per carry). Williams did have an 18-yard run and scored a 3-yard touchdown, but he was also very lucky that his fumble right before the score wasn’t ruled a turnover. The biggest positive impact by the backs was in the passing game where Jennings caught 8-of-10 passes thrown his way for 68 yards, including a 27-yard swing pass on the last TD drive. That said, Jennings was held just short of the 1st down marker on the Giants last 4th-and-2 offensive play.

In recent weeks, Henry Hynoski has become a bit of a short-yardage specialist for the Giants. He picked up 4 yards on 3rd-and-1 early in the game.

Wide Receivers

Odell Beckham remains the sole bright spot in otherwise dreadful season. His 43-yard touchdown reception is clearly one of the best in NFL history. Unfortunately for the Giants, Beckham’s impact was largely limited to the first half, where he caught all eight passes thrown in his direction for 125 yards and two touchdowns. In the second half? Beckham caught just 2-of-3 passes for 21 yards. He did leave the game early in the fourth quarter with a painful back injury, but returned.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (November 23, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

In the first half, he had a key 12-yard catch on 3rd-and-5 on the first scoring drive and a diving 13-yard catch on 2nd-and-11 on the second scoring drive, which was capped by his brilliant one-handed 43-yard reception.

But it’s interesting to see how fast he has become the ONE guy the other team worries about, and how the Giants are beginning to take advantage of that to open up other areas of the offense. For example, on the first TD drive, on 3rd-and-3, Beckham was lined up in the backfield. Eli – with time – looked in his direction, drawing the defense, then threw a slant pass to a wide open Rueben Randle for a 21-yard gain.

Eli glances at Beckham, drawing defense's attention...

Eli glances at Beckham, drawing defense’s attention…

...that leaves Rueben Randle wide open on the slant

…that leaves Rueben Randle wide open on the slant

A few plays later, Manning faked an end around to Beckham, opening up an exceptionally well setup screen pass to Rashad Jennings that gained 15 yards. The drive finished with a 3-yard touchdown to Beckham.

Eli fakes end around to Beckham, again drawing defense's attention...

Eli fakes end around to Beckham, again drawing defense’s attention…

...instead Eli dumps ball off to Rashad Jennings on well-orchestrated screen pass

…instead Eli dumps ball off to Rashad Jennings on well-orchestrated screen pass

Beckham continued to make an impact on the run-heavy third TD drive by helping the Giants to convert on 3rd-and-8 (14-yard catch) and 3rd-and-6 (12-yard catch). Note the interesting four-receiver set employed by Ben McAdoo.

four receiver bunch formation designed to get Beckham open quickly

four receiver bunch formation designed to get Beckham open quickly

Beckham  had a 12-yard reception on 3rd-and-2 in the third quarter two plays before Manning’s interception.

Rueben Randle was only targeted three times, catching all three passes for 36 yards. Preston Parker caught one pass for 16 yards. Of the 38 passes thrown, only seven were thrown at the #2 and #3 wideouts. Parker was flagged with a false start early in the fourth quarter, contributing to a failed possession.

Tight Ends

For the first time all season, all three tight ends were actively involved in the passing game. Daniel Fells actually led the group with 3 catches (out of four targets) for 35 yards. He was up and down in the blocking department. And he had two critical 13-yard receptions in two 3rd-and-12 situations. Larry Donnell caught 2-of-4 passes for 24 yards. He had a key 16-yard reception in heavy traffic on 3rd-and-7 on the Giants’ last TD drive. His blocking was also up and down, but he gives a good effort. Adrien Robinson caught a 1-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-goal to put the Giants up 28-24 with three minutes to play. Robinson did a nice job of selling the fake on his initial block.

Offensive Line

There were two line-up changes with Geoff Schwartz starting at right tackle for the injured Justin Pugh and Adam Snyder starting in place for the benched Weston Richburg. Richburg returned to the lineup late in the game when Snyder left with a knee injury. James Brewer also saw some snaps at left tackle when Will Beatty suffered an eye injury (but later returned).

Run blocking remained a problem as the Giants only averaged 2.8 yards per carry against a middle-of-the-pack defense. The Giants had problems blocking MLB Rolando McClain (11 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss) all night. There was one drive – the third TD drive of the first half – where the Giants did get the ground game going. On this drive, the Giants ran the ball eight times for 45 yards, including runs of 12 and 18 yards. But it was fleeting moment in the game.

One of the few big holes for the Giants' backs...this was a well-blocked play

One of the few big holes for the Giants’ backs…this was a well-blocked play

Pass protection was decent early but deteriorated as the game wore on. The two sacks came late in the second quarter. On the first, Schwartz had some problems with the defensive end. Then Beatty and Snyder couldn’t handle a stunt, resulting in a 9-yard sack. When the Giants got the ball back after the sole Dallas turnover at the Cowboy 42-yard line, Beatty gave up immediate pressure, Manning was hit and threw the ball away and intentional grounding was called. This prevented the Giants from getting into field goal range right before intermission.

Pass protection was strong early, as on this TD pass to Beckham

Pass protection was strong early, as on this TD pass to Beckham

It didn’t get better after the break. Beatty and Snyder had problems with a stunt early in the third quarter and Eli was forced to dump the ball off prematurely on failed 3rd down conversion attempt. The line came up small on the last desperate drive as Schwartz was bull-rushed twice into Eli’s face and then Jerry let his man blow by him to hit Manning.

Defensive Overview

Just another really shitty performance by the NFL’s 31st-ranked defense. Again, this is the third time in four seasons that the Giants are on pace for giving up over 6,000 yards of offense (the only times in team history this has happened).

The defense allowed RB DeMarco Murray to run for 121 yards on 24 carries (5 yards per carry). Once again, Romo owned the Giants. Last month in the first Giants-Cowboys game, Romo completed 17-of-23 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns. His QB rating was a gaudy 135.7. This game? Romo was 18-of-26 for 275 yards and four touchdowns with a QB rating of 143.4.

The defense can’t blame fatigue on their performance. Dallas only ran 53 offensive plays. But Dallas averaged 7.3 yards per play. 150 yards came on FIVE pass plays.

There were some positive signs. The Cowboys were 4-of-10 on third-down conversions. And in five first-half offensive possessions, while the Cowboys did score 10 points on two long drives, they also went three-and-out twice and fumbled the ball away once.

But in the second half, Dallas scored three touchdowns in five possessions. Worst of all, once again, as has been the history of this unit for the past three years, the defense could not hold a late-game lead as the Cowboys tore through the defense to win the game, driving 80 yards in just seven plays and two minutes.

The defense came up smallest at points in the game where you think they should have been motivated to perform at their best: (1) allowing the Cowboys to drive 77 yards in 9 plays right after Beckham’s one-handed catch, and (2) with the game on the line at the end.

Deciding not to copy the game-winning defensive scheme of the Washington Redskins to blitz Tony Romo heavily – especially with his bad back – Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell usually decided to rush only four, with little impact.

It was a typical – but still odd decision – by a coordinator who has to know his job is on the line. What did he have to lose? On the game-winning drive, by rushing four, plus not using pass rushers Robert Ayers and Damontre Moore, Fewell probably has sealed his fate. Romo went 6-for-6 for 66 yards on the final 80-yard drive.

Defensive Line/Linebackers

The Giants allowed the Cowboys to average 5 yards per carry on the ground against a defense intent on stopping the run. It didn’t matter. Look at the Cowboys’ third drive of the game. Five of the nine plays were runs with gains of 5, 13, 4, 4, and 3…nothing spectacular…just slow death. And the productive running game set up excellent misdirection plays including a 27-yard screen pass off a fake end around and then a 4-yard shovel pass to TE Jason Witten for the TD.

While Tony Romo was sacked twice and officially hit four times, the numbers are misleading. Romo often had all night to throw, especially on the game-winning drive when he had between 8-10 seconds on two plays, including the game-winning touchdown throw.

It was not a good performance by anyone in the front seven. Jason Pierre-Paul (53 snaps, 2 tackles, 1 QB hit, 1 fumble recovery) probably played the best. He had a few nice plays against the run and pass, including drawing a holding penalty that wiped out a 39-yard pass play, but it wasn’t enough. More was needed and is expected, especially on the game-winning drive by Dallas.

Mathias Kiwanuka (45 snaps, 1 tackle, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble) and Robert Ayers (20 snaps, 1 tackle) were too quiet. Kiwanuka continues to receive the bulk of the playing time despite (1) a knee injury that has caused him to miss practice time each of the last few weeks, and (2) ineffective play. Damontre Moore (1 tackle, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 sack, 1 QB hit) only played 6 snaps. His sack was more of a coverage sack, but at least he got to the QB.

Inside, Johnathan Hankins (48 snaps, 5 tackles, 1 QB hit) played virtually the entire game. One gets the sense he isn’t getting much help. Mike Patterson (27 snaps, 3 tackles) and Markus Kuhn (13 snaps, 0 tackles) are simply not getting the job done. Jay Bromley played six snaps but did not show up on the stat sheet. Perhaps the Giants made the wrong decision to let Linval Joseph go, even with his big contract.

Despite briefly leaving the game with a knee injury, Jameel McClain (53 snaps, 5 tackles) played most of the defensive snaps, followed by Devon Kennard (34 snaps, 5 tackles), Mark Herzlich (25 snaps, 6 tackles), and Spencer Paysinger (6 snaps, 2 tackles). No one really made any plays of note, especially against the run.

The linebackers and safeties actually did a decent job on the top two tight ends as Jason Witten was held to 4 catches for 30 yards (and one touchdown) and Gavin Escobar did not catch a pass. But James Hanna did make a 27-yard reception against Paysinger on a 3rd-and-1 play-action fake where everyone bit on the run fake.

Defensive Backs

Tony Romo completed 18-of-26 passes (69 percent) for 275 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions (143.4 QB rating). Romo threw 26 times and there were no interceptions and only one pass defense.

Most of the damage in the receiving game was done by WR Dez Bryant (7 catches for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns) and WR Cole Beasley (2 catches for 66 yards and 1 touchdown).

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (40 snaps, 5 tackles) and Zack Bowman (43 snaps, 2 tackles, 1 pass defense) formed the primary cornerback duo with Jayron Hosley (29 snaps, 2 tackles) and Chykie Brown (20 snaps, 1 tackle) also receiving significant playing time. DRC played pretty well.

At safety, Antrel Rolle (53 snaps, 7 tackles) continues his very quiet season. Stevie Brown (42 snaps, 3 tackles) saw more action than Quintin Demps (29 snaps, 3 tackles). Rolle has a sure interception in the end zone pass right through his hands. One play later, Dallas kicked a 38-yard field goal.

The inability to stop the Dallas ground game (which is also the responsibility of the defensive backs who had trouble getting off blocks) caused problems in the passing game.

For example, note how both Hosley and Brown bit too hard on the end around fake to the wide receiver. This left the running back all alone on a screen play that picked up 26 yards down to the NYG 7-yard line.

Jayron Hosley and Stevie Brown badly bite on the end around fake

Jayron Hosley and Stevie Brown badly bite on the end around fake

One of the big screw-ups of the game was obviously Beasley’s 45-yard touchdown catch-and-run. Hosley was beaten badly by Beasley and then Bowman missed a tackle. Aside from this play, Bowman actually played pretty well against the pass, including a late knock down of a key 3rd-and-3 pass intended for WR Terrance Williams.

Then on Dallas’ next possession, I have no idea what the Giants were doing when they left Bryant all alone for an easy 31-yard touchdown.

Oompa Loompas

Giants zone defense on Bryant’s 31-yard TD

On Dallas’ game-winning drive, the first really big play was the 21-yard pass to Beasley, where nobody seemed to cover him.

On two of the last three pass plays, including the game winner, you can’t blame the secondary. Romo had all night to throw. You can’t expect to cover for 8-10 seconds.

Special Teams

Josh Brown did not attempt a field goal. Four of his five kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. One return went for 22 yards.

Steve Weatherford punted four times, averaging 55 yards per punt (only netting 38 however). Dallas returned all four punts for a total of 68 yards, averaging an unacceptable 17 yards per punt return.

The Giants only returned one punt with Odell Beckham losing 1 yard on his only return. Preston Parker returned four kickoffs for 99 yards, with a long of 37 that helped to set up one score. But he also screwed up by fielding one return close to the sideline, his momentum carrying him out at the 13.

(Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants, November 23, 2014)