Dallas 33 Giants 20

The day the lights went out in the New Meadowlands.  A metaphor for the Giants’ long day vs Dallas.

On Thursday, Wonder had the Giants as one of 11 teams that are vying for a title this year.  But he did not put the Giants at the top of the NFC heap because he said they were “sloppy.”  And 3 days later, the Giants showed those sloppy traits in multiple multiple multiple ways and it cost them.  If the Giants can learn from this, this loss can help- the Giants have to stop reading their press clippings and clean up a lot of mess.

The Giants were outplayed today, but the problems can be corrected.

Running a recap of the good, bad and ugly does not work this week because there were so many players who were ALL of the ABOVE. 

Offense

At the top of the list was Eli Manning.  Eli was hot and cold.  So were the Giants.  Eli telegraphed on his second INT.  He also had a few Manute Bol passes too.  Yet he was also good enough for the team to win.. the 48 yard TD pass to Nicks in Q4 that is called back was a great Eli pass that should not get overlooked either.  
 
After the game, Hakeem Nicks took the blame on the 101-yd INT/TD runback.  He broke off his route and served up Eli on that.  A mistake like this is magnified.  Bob Papa was very clear about this one- you have Nicks vs a second stringer in McCann.  McCann was in the perfect position for the route, but Nicks can’t break off.     

What is also important to note is how a 5 yd penalty by Beatty 2 plays earlier with 2nd and goal from the 2 is a killer.  Who knows what is called at 2nd and 2 at the goal vs 3rd and goal at the 2? Or what defense the Cowboys are in.  That penalty cannot be underestimated in its effect on the game.  The Giants spent the rest of the game climbing out of the hole created by that single moment.  

Maybe this is a personal pet peeve.. Manning hits Manningham on a 44 yard bomb, but MM has 3 steps on his defender and Eli severely underthrows him or else MM is gone for a TD.  The Giants settled for a FG on this drive.       

With Steve Smith out, we were concerned with how Gilbride would do, and he was fine.  Gilbride delivered 3rd down calls to Bradshaw underneath, who moved the sticks by picking up those first downs.  Make no mistake, the 4th and 1 handoff to Brandon Jacobs in Q4 was so utterly predictable in that power formation that he was the wrong back.. Bradshaw gets back to the line of scrimmage so much faster and gives the team a better oppty to convert.

Nicks, as terrific as he is, had a very bad drop today at 10:54 of Q4.  On 2nd and 20, he drops a 20+ yd reception and he might still be running now if he catches that ball.  But instead, Boss makes a great catch on 3rd down for 19, followed by the Jacobs failure above on 4th and 1.  MM also had a very bad drop (Jacobs and Bradshaw each had a drop too).  Both of these WRs are so immensely talented, yet their inconsistencies in this game were costly. 

Bradshaw fumbled another ball today, his 5th of the season.  That Calhoun fell on the ball is going to mask the fact that this excellent RB is not protecting the ball.  If you want to win a Super Bowl, Mr. Bradshaw, you are going to have protect the ball MUCH BETTER.

As long as Steve Smith is out, Mario Manningham is going to have to know that on 3rd down you take the 1st down and do not play games going backwards to get extra yards.  Moving the sticks is far more important.

The loss of O’Hara (AND Koets) rears its ugly head with a knock-hockey snap from Seubert in the shotgun that results in a turnover.  The sloppiness was seemingly everywhere.

Defense

The stat sheet says that the Giants had 1 sack by Osi Umenyiora.  It is a fiction. Osi was the first one to touch Kitna after the Dallas QB tripped on his own feet after the snap.  So let’s spell it out: ZERO SACKS.  And almost zero pressure overall.  And this was against a weak Dallas OL.  The Giants DL needs to get pressure with their front four or else bad things are gonna happen.  And they certainly did..

Those screen passes were killers.  The breakdowns were bad, especially on the 71 yarder by Felix Jones for a TD.  But some of the outside (WR bubble screen) passes were also poorly defended. 

The Giants were in Cover2 on 3rd and 22 and Roy Williams converts that play.  One play later Austin Miles roasts Webster over the middle for a TD.  Fewell has to review this one and fix that mess.  Speaking of Fewell, him and Coughlin were mouthing off at one another after these two plays, so you have to know that it was just as ugly as it looked.  Banks believes that Thomas simply did not redirect and stay w Williams.  For down and distance, Thomas has to stay with his man better than that because nothing underneath is going to get 20 yards. 

Bob Papa noted that (1) the Giants defense gave up a total of 5 pass plays for 30+ yds in the first 8 games and that (2) they gave up 5 pass plays of 30+ yards vs Dallas today.  It looked like 2009 out there with the LBers and Safeties out of position.  Kitna averaged 25 yards per pass completion.  But this goes back to the lack of DL pressure. Any secondary will be exposed if you give a QB enough time.   

Officiating

Look, I ascribe to the Bill Walsh theory of penalties, namely that your job is to win so convincingly that the blind zebras (aka referees) can do what they will but that it will not cost you.  After this game, we have to point out a few calls that were horrible, because they show that, despite the bad mistakes by the Giants, the Giants did do some very good things that won’t show.  Manning hits Hakeem Nicks for a 48 yd TD and it is called back because of a phantom holding penalty on Boothe.  That is a terrible call. There is 7:28 left in the game, so the Giants are within 6 at that moment and very much in it.  But the refs said otherwise.

The Tollefson call for a personal foul gives the team a 1st down and 15 yards on an overturned incomplete pass.  Not a killer, but even Troy Aikman thought the call was a joke.

Sensabaugh was completely draped over Kevin Boss in the end zone well before the ball arrived, and he was not called for a pass interference.  Nasty.

Misc   

Barden looked good before he got hurt (on crutches after the game- ankle?).  He had some very BIG receptions.

Next week’s game vs PHL is more important because you do not want to lose two in a row.  Use the loss as an opportunity to get focused, get concentrated on excellent execution.  Being 6-4 is not an option. It makes you a Wild Card team on the bubble instead of a contender.  WIN IN PHILLY.  The stakes are a lot higher now.  Clean up the problems uncovered by Dallas or else Vick/Jackson/Maclin/McCoy/Celek/Avant will make you pay again.  (If you want evidence of his this works in the NFL, look at how NE gets beaten by the Browns and a week later they are beating the Steelers on the road.  Maybe the players are a little more coachable and focused than they were a week ago, speculates Collinsworth.  Similarly, maybe the Giants will play a lot more crisply and take less for granted vs PHL.  When one door vs Dallas closes, another vs PHL opens.)

Deon Grant’s INT was pretty.  A great play like that gets lost in the sauce, but you have to point to things like this as one of the main reasons why this is not 2009, not at all.

Shawn Andrews silenced DeMarcus Ware.  This kind of performance is a very good sign for Eli, especially if/when Smith comes back, because when Eli has time behind a healthier OL, he’ll get back to a more dominating position.

Lawrence Tynes is more consistent these days.  No one say another word or else the guy will revert back.  

Cofield had a nice block of an extra point.

Summary

The Giants shot themselves in the foot.  Use it as a reminder that you have to keep improving and executing at a high level or else you are not going to attain the goal that is possible.  The Giants need to remember that the game starts at 15:00 of Q1.  We can go back to the last 4 games and see that the Giants got out of the blocks sloppy.. Detroit 7-0, Dallas 10-0, Seattle Boss fumble early, Dallas 19-3.  The Giants have as many opportunities at 6-3 as they do at 6-2.  They just have to execute better. 

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