New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys: Full Roster Report Card Grades for New York
Despite tying a club high mark for turnovers in head coach Tom Coughlin's regime, the Giants weren't ever really out of the game as Dallas only managed to score three points off the first three Giants turnovers, two interceptions and the first of two fumbles by running back David Wilson.
The Giants, who never led in the game, were only down by a field goal at halftime as they held the ball for just eight minutes, 29 seconds to the Cowboys' 21:31.
In the third quarter, Dallas began to pull away, scoring 17 unanswered points, including a touchdown that came on Wilson's second and final fumble of the game that was recovered by defensive back Barry Church and returned 27 yards for the first of three consecutive Dallas scores.
Despite the sloppiness of their offense, the Giants had a chance in the fourth quarter of the game to make something happen. Down 30-24 after quarterback Eli Manning connected with receiver Victor Cruz on one of his three touchdown receptions of the evening, the quarterback then looked as though he was about to lead his team to another late-game comeback with 2:41 left in the game.
However, following the two-minute warning, his pass intended for running back Da'Rel Scott, who replaced the benched Wilson, was tipped by the runner and intercepted by cornerback Brandon Carr, who returned it 49 yards for the touchdown that put the game out of reach.
Manning and company did manage to record one more touchdown on his four-yard toss to tight end Brandon Myers with 16 seconds left in the game, but the Giants failed to recover the ensuing onside kick, which allowed Dallas to simply run out the game clock and seal the win.
Take away Eli Manning's three interceptions and his burning 11 seconds off the clock as time was running out in the fourth quarter, and his performance wasn't as bad as that of some of his teammates. Manning was under duress on numerous occasions, having to throw the ball before he was ready.
Still, credit him for remaining his usual calm-and-collected self late in the game when the Giants still had a chance to pull out a win. He took what the Cowboys defense gave him, recognizing they were leaving receiver Rueben Randle in single coverage for most of the second half, which Manning exploited.
There must be something about playing Dallas that brings out the worst in David Wilson. The Giants' starting running back mustered just 2.7 yards per carry when he wasn't struggling to hang on to the ball. Wilson twice had the ball stripped away by Dallas defenders, something that head coach Tom Coughlin said in his postgame press conference he had warned the second-year running back about all week leading up to the game.
Wilson's pass blocking wasn't that much better, as he didn't once engage with his man, instead trying to chip, which is not going to get it done.
Coughlin wouldn't commit to whether Wilson would start next week against the Denver Broncos, but he did say that the team needed the young man and would work on fixing his ball-security issues.
Da'Rel Scott, the man everyone worried about coming into this game, statistically did better with 4.6 yards per carry.
However, Scott failed to turn around in time on a fourth-quarter late-game pass that was picked off by Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr and returned 49 yards for the touchdown.
Fullback Henry Hynoski, who was active after being limited in practice the last two weeks following his removal from the PUP list, sure looked like a man who hadn't had much time on the field.
Hynoski had his worst performance as a pro, not only whiffing in his edge blocks (his up the gut blocks were fine), but also dropping a pass that hit him right in the hands.
The receivers were actually one of the bright spots for the Giants offense, as its top three guys all had 100-plus receiving yards and accounted for 21 of the Giants' 31 points.
Victor Cruz was the star of the group, leading in receiving yards and recording the only touchdown of the group.
Hakeem Nicks showed little signs of being rusty after coming back from a preseason where he had just a handful of game reps. Nicks also had some nice downfield blocks in an attempt to help the running game.
Rueben Randle took advantage of single coverage to haul in five of the six passes thrown his way.
Starter Brandon Myers averaged 9.4 yards per reception and had one of Manning's four touchdown passes.
However, he still doesn't look completely comfortable in this offense, at one point fighting a ball that hit him in the hands before falling harmlessly to the ground.
In addition, his blocking on the line still leaves a lot to be desired, as he seemed too slow at times in getting out of his stance or maintaining leverage against his man.
Bear Pascoe had a few snaps as the H-back and at fullback, as did Larry Donnell, but neither contributed in the passing game this week.
The starting offensive line consisted of left tackle Will Beatty, left guard James Brewer, center Kevin Boothe, right guard Chris Snee and rookie right tackle Justin Pugh, and it had its ups and downs, allowing three sacks, three tackles for loss and five quarterback hits.
Pugh had a few hiccups but otherwise seemed to hold up well for the most part, even facing All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware a few times later in the game.
Boothe was perhaps the most solid of the bunch, while Snee, Brewer and Beatty all took turns giving up pressure throughout the course of the game.
That the Giants running game finished with an average of 3.6 yards per carry would indicate the offensive line wasn't always winning the battle in the pit, as this unit, now in its second week in this configuration, continues to try to jell moving forward.
The Giants had defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul available for this game, but it was obvious he wasn't quite ready to come back just yet, as between the defense's inability to get off the field and Pierre's inability to fight through blocks, the defensive end's early-week concerns about his conditioning seemed to be a factor in the game.
Pierre-Paul was credited with just one tackle after being shut out in the first half. He also had one of the Giants' two sacks, an 11-yard loss for the Cowboys.
On the other side, Justin Tuck finished as the team leader in tackles with eight. He also recorded half a sack, which now gives him 50 for his career, and had two hits on quarterback Tony Romo. Tuck continues to do his best pass-rushing work when he moves inside to defensive tackle.
Mathias Kiwanuka, who got the start ahead of Pierre-Paul, played a quiet game that saw the Giants finally get their first sack of the contest in the fourth quarter.
Linval Joseph had the best statistics of the bunch as far as recording a half-sack (shared with Justin Tuck) and forcing a fumble.
As a group, though, they helped limit the Cowboys to just 87 rushing yards on 23 carries (3.7 average) and no touchdowns.
It was a less-than-impressive night from this group, which, for the second game in a row, lost middle linebacker Dan Connor to a stinger.
The problem for it continues to be its inability to cover tight end Jason Witten, who somehow managed to get open no matter what the group did. If it was tight in coverage, Witten went behind it; if it was loose, he went in front.
In particular, Mark Herzlich, replacing Connor after his injury, was the one who, despite staying stride for stride with Witten, failed to disrupt the big tight end and gave him a free release, almost looking reluctant to interfere with him as he crossed into the end zone for the score.
Herzlich might have finished fourth on the team in total tackles, but as has been the case with him since he became a Giant, he not only struggles to shed blocks, most of his tackles are occurring once the ball-carrier has picked up five or more yards.
Keith Rivers had a rather quiet and uninspiring game, recording just one tackle and appearing a step or two too late in coverage.
Spencer Paysinger had a few hiccups early on, and while he might not be the most athletically gifted of the bunch, he at least put forth an effort, finishing with four total tackles, all solos.
Jacquian Williams meanwhile continues to take some unnecessary gambles in coverage that leave him grasping at air, gambles he shouldn't be making at this point in his career.
The cornerbacks had a nice showing, preventing any receiver from recording more than 72 yards thanks to some tight coverage and aggressive play.
Corey Webster, who had knee and groin issues late in the summer, did well against Dez Bryant after Prince Amukamara had to leave the game with a concussion.
Webster, Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas, who was playing in his first regular-season game in two years, each had a pass breakup and didn't allow themselves to be beaten by the deep ball.
Like the cornerbacks, the Giants safeties did a nice job of keeping the passing game in check by not allowing anything to get behind them.
Ryan Mundy came up with the lone interception for his team, while Antrel Rolle was active against the run.
It was a solid night from the Giants' specialists.
Punter Steve Weatherford only punted three times for a 41.7 net average, but he also had one touchback and placed one inside of the 20.
Kicker Josh Brown's five kickoffs all went for touchbacks, and he made his only field-goal attempt, a 20-yarder.