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Giant Takeaways: Disappointment in Dallas

The New York Giants disappointed sports bettors on Sunday night, as they fell to the Dallas Cowboys 20-13 at AT&T Stadium.

All week, the talk in Giants camp has been they can beat the Cowboys by putting the ball in Dak Prescott’s hands. Well, in the first drive, Prescott threw a deep pass to wide receiver Tavon Austin, who rushed past a stumbling Janoris Jenkins and evaded a Curtis Riley tackle to score a 64-yard touchdown.

The offense on both teams would take a break until the fourth quarter, as Prescott would lead the march down field, taking advantage of an exhausted Giants defense. Big runs and throws by Prescott brought the Cowboys in the red zone, which resulted in a four-yard touchdown rush by Ezekiel Elliott to give them a 20-3 lead.

New York would finally hit the end zone in the waning minutes of the game, thanks to blown coverage from the Cowboys, leaving tight end Evan Engram wide open in the end zone, putting them on the board 20-10.

The Giants were given another chance by the football gods, after tight end Blake Jarwin muffed an onside kick recovery. Aldrick Rosas would nail a 38-yard field to cut the lead 20-13. After banking on lightning to strike twice, Rosas second onside kick would go out of bounds, ending any comeback hopes for the Giants.

Manning and Running Backs Left Vulnerable

When looking at the stat sheet, Eli Manning put up decent numbers. Completing 33-of-44 passes for 279 yards, one touchdown, and a 98.6 passer rating. But watching the game told a different story.

While Ereck Flowers performed rather admirably and perhaps his best as a Giant, the rest of the 0-line struggled against the blitz. Manning got sacked a whopping six times by the Cowboys. Most of them came with the pass rusher crossing the line of scrimmage unblocked like a heat-seeking missile towards Manning. So much pressure was placed on Manning, that it essentially killed the success rate of any potential play.

Not to mention the lack of a running game. On 17 carries, the Giants generated just 37 yards on the ground through the entire game. Barkley would finish the game with 28 yards on 11 carries (but he did make up for it later on).

Perhaps what makes matters worse, center Jon Halapio, who has arguably been the Giants best lineman, was carted off the field after getting his right leg rolled on by various players. The prognosis appears to be grim, as his leg was placed in an aircast, leaving his playing status up in the air. The o-line has been playing below average, and with Halapio out, matters have become much worse.

Questionable Offensive Play Calls

Giants fans were excited for the potential of the Pat Shurmur offense entering the season, especially with Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley on the roster. Week 2 in Dallas painted another picture.

Checkdown, checkdown, checkdown.

Through the majority of the game, the Giants barely threw the ball deep. That was due to the fact that the Cowboys defensive backs blanketed Beckham and Shepard. That forced Shurmur to call a lot of checkdowns to Barkley on the outside and curl routes just short of the first-down marker. In fact, the Giants offense didn’t cross the 50-yard line until the third quarter, which is a credit to the Cowboys’ game-prepping abilities and a lack of adjustment making by New York.

Barkley finished as the Giants’ leading receiver, hauling in 14 passes for 80 yards, which is tied for the most receptions by a rookie in single game. Beckham tallied 51 yards on four receptions, despite being targeted nine times by Manning.

Shurmur’s play calling hasn’t been as dynamic as advertised, but there’s still plenty of season left to get everything clicking.

Defense Struggles

Landon Collins dared Dak Prescott to throw the ball on their defense, and did he ever.

Entering the game, Prescott had just six passes going further than 18 yards in his past three games. So of course, Prescott starts off with the aforementioned 64-yard touchdown pass, silencing his various critics.

After a while, the defense was actually keeping the Giants in the game. Yet, they could only stop so much, especially with the offense going three-and-out on various occasions. But Dallas’ 14 play, 82 yard drive in the fourth quarter proved to be the final nail in the coffin for New York.

What hurt the Giants while playing defense was their inability to stop the run. Elliott turned negative plays into positives, which is a combination of his skills as a running back, as well as the Giants inability to tackle him. Elliott finished the night with 78 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries. Prescott also proved to be dangerous on his feet, as he rushed seven times for 45 yards, albeit due the openings left by the defense.

What’s Next?

The Giants will return to the New York/New Jersey are briefly before heading back to Texas, as they face off against the Houston Texans. James Bettcher will look to try and contain the likes of Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, while Shurmur will try to awaken the offense against a Houston defense which stars J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

Still plenty of season left, but the Giants will have to make numerous adjustments following their loss to the rival Cowboys. But don’t hit the panic button just yet.

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