Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants: Standouts, Notes, and Observations

Dec 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) celebrates scoring the game winning touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) celebrates scoring the game winning touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports /

There was more than meets the eye when the Dallas Cowboys lost to the New York Giants in Sunday night’s defensive slugfest.

An impotent offense and missed defensive opportunities doomed the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Grading them, the offense clearly gets an “F”. Nothing worked and they only scored 7 points. The defense was much harder to grade. At face value an “A” seems in order since the Cowboys held the Giants to 10 points, but further review shows just how poorly the Giants played and how the Cowboys botched coverage should have given up two long passing TDs to wide open Giants.

  • Entering this game, Eli Manning had been delivering his passes an average of 2.5 seconds. Not much time to bring the pressure. Still, Tyrone Crawford and Maliek Collins did a great job of exploding off the snap. Rod Marinelli’s secondary responded to the quick passes by crowding the line against receiver bunch formations to take away the quick pop passes and screens.
  • Dak Prescott started off target again and unlike previous weeks, he was unable to correct it. As stated before, this is most likely a rhythm thing and nothing to do with nerves, but the inaccuracy does seem to stall early drives and solutions should be experimented with going forward (possibly extra pregame passing).
  • Dak did better on rollouts and could have even pulled the ball down and turned some passing plays into runs. His special assets that set him apart from Romo curiously went unused.
  • Going for it on fourth down in midfield was a great decision by Jason Garrett. And not just because it worked. It set the tone for Zeke and the boys and gave Dak a chance to find his groove (only temporarily).
  • It’s easy to praise the play-calling when your team is winning but the creativity and misdirection have been superb this year and the Cowboys first TD pass to Terrance Williams is a great example of that. Unfortunately it didn’t last as Dak Prescott and the struggling Dallas Cowboys offense repeatedly faced 3rd and long situations as a result of predictable and vanilla calls on early downs.
  • After delivering a TD pass on the second possession, Dak struggled to find his receivers. The Giants had close, physical coverage as well as a pass-rush, making Dak uncomfortable in the pocket. Dak’s first INT was all about Dez falling down but the second INT was all about Dak becoming impatient. The consequence of the impatience? A Giants TD two plays later. It was an extremely poor day for Dak Prescott.
  • I’ve pointed out Orlando Scandrick’s ineffectiveness blitzing many times in the past (if met with a blocker he rarely attempts to fight through it) but the Cowboys continued to use him as a rusher from the slot. I’m not sure what world it seems like a good idea to waste a solid coverage player on an obvious blitz, subsequently leaving Brandon Carr in one-on-one coverage against Odell Beckham Jr, but it’s not this world. Oh yeah, Scandy was easily blocked and Carr was called for PI. Scandrick would blitz two more times with equally poor results.
  • Great postseason teams don’t miss opportunities. Barry Church dropped two interceptions on Sunday night. I’m the biggest supporter of Church but when they are giftwrapped like that, you have to make the play or teams will target you for consequence-free passes in the future.  Later, with 3min left, Justin Durant dropped an interception that would have given the Dallas Cowboys the ball in scoring position. But he dropped the ball, allowing NY to take time off the clock and punt the ball back to the Dallas 25 yard line.
  • That’s three interceptions that the Cowboys dropped. Balls where the defender had two hands on the ball. Balls you would expect a high school player to catch. That’s why I can’t praise the defense today.
  • Benson Mayowa was having a good game even before his strip stack of Manning in the second quarter. He has improved exponentially against the screen pass and is handling his responsibilities play-to-play rather than just pinning his ears back and hunting for sacks. He’s not the player we were hoping for when signed in the offseason but he’s developing into a well-rounded rotational end that could be a factor in the postseason.
  • 3rd and 3 in the third and Justin Durant allows 185lbs Paul Perkins to drag him four yards for the drive extending first down run. A drive that would have stalled ended up costing the Dallas Cowboys three points (the margin of victory), all because a veteran LB couldn’t bring down a running back 35lbs his inferior.

Next: Morris Claiborne's Return Critical to Cowboys Secondary

Anytime a defense only allows 10 point they deserve praise, but breaking down the game, this defense let far too many opportunities slip through their fingers. Sunday night’s outcome was a product of many things going wrong at once. Nobody expects the putrid results from the offense again and nobody expects the defense to drop three interceptions again.