Having lost to the Cowboys 12 of the last 17 games played, the Giants were clearly in for a tough matchup. With a "T.O.-less" offense, the Cowboys were praised by the pundits on how their quarterback Tony Romo had been playing and were expecting a great game from the superstar and former Jessica Simpson beau. Yet even without Jessica looking on, Romo still failed to pull out the win versus New York's stout defense.
Within the first few minutes, Romo looked uncomfortable in the pocket and showed his lack of comfort by throwing an easy interception to Giants undrafted rookie cornerback Bruce Johnson, who took it back for a touchdown. Little did Cowboys fans know that this would be the first of three picks Romo would throw, as safety Kenny Phillips became the beneficiary of the other two. Although the Giants failed to record a sack, the pressure from the frontline affected Romo as the game progressed.
With Dallas' size on the offensive line, the Cowboys were able to finally break through and punish the Giants defense with their running game, gashing the New York line for major yardage when New York defensive end Justin Tuck was injured on a tripping call by Dallas offensive tackle Flozell Adams.
Yet despite this burst of offense by the Cowboys, this performance bodes well for a Giants team eyeing the return of cornerback Aaron Ross and defensive tackle Chris Canty within the next few weeks. Furthermore, the increasingly better health of the safety tandem of Phillips and Michael Johnson should continue to give New York one of the best up-and-coming secondaries in the league.
Yet what really grabbed the Giants' fans attention was the play of the New York offense.
With an offense based on the run, the Giants were all but assured of breaking down and blowing by the Dallas frontline with the usually successful combination of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. However, Dallas knew how to stop the run on this night and proceeded to place seven or eight men in the box to put pressure on Eli Manning and the passing attack.
All game the Giants, undoubtedly, struggled in the red zone, which can be attributed partially to the loss of Plaxico Burress. With tight end Kevin Boss, wide receiver Steve Smith, and eventually rookie H-Back/tight end Travis Beckum eventually getting in the mix, the Giants offense should improve upon this deficiency as the season progresses. If not, you can expect Kevin Gilbride to be on the hot seat regarding play-calling duties in the red zone, especially with the lack of creativity Giants fans have come to expect from their lackluster offensive coordinator.
Outside of the red zone is where New York did almost all of its damage.
With questions about their wide receiver corps coming into this season, the Giants wideouts played like proven veterans. Steve Smith has quickly become Eli Mannings new "Amani Toomer," with his clutch grabs on third down, while former Michigan Wolverine Mario Manningham stole the show with his explosive plays and new-found route running ability. While Smith showed the world why the Giants decided not to trade him for Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards, "Super Mario" showed the NFL why the Giants selected him in last year's draft despite signs of character issues.
With Smith and Manningham having outstanding games they now lie among the top three receivers in receiving yardage, along with Steelers wideout Santonio Holmes. This quick evolution by the Giants' starting wideouts helped the Giants score field goal after field goal and they should become even more dangerous with the return of Domenik Hixon and Hakeem Nicks. Yet with those numerous field goals, for one night, they were able prove why they are the team to beat in the division and possibly the NFL, as Lawrence Tynes sealed the victory at the closing seconds to keep the Giants without a loss as they head into Tampa Bay.
With the Bucs struggling to stop the run versus the Buffalo Bills this past week, the Giants running game should finally get on track as we continue to witness the Giants improving offense and always disruptive defense.
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