This article was written by talented freelancer John Hoey. Follow John on twitter @JohnnyCrashMLB for all-sport acumen
I don’t like to refer to games as a must win when a team is not technically eliminated if they lose, but this is as close as it gets for me. The Giants fell to the Cowboys yesterday on a 35 yard field goal by Dan Bailey. An extremely effective running game wasn’t enough to make up for a strip-six, red zone failure, and frantic management with the play clock.
Although the game went to the wire, there was a hovering sensation that the Cowboys were in control the entire time. A morale crushing strip of the ball from Victor Cruz early in the 1st quarter for a 50 yard defensive touchdown by Jeff Heath set that tone. The Giants had their opportunities to score but failed twice in the red zone and settled for field goals. New York appeared unprepared and frantic trying to beat the play clock. The biggest example of this was being forced to take a timeout with 13:23 to go in the first half. Eli Manning looked visibly frustrated, directing players in motion like a traffic cop as the single digits ticked down on the play clock. For a long time now the Giants have been guilty of taking the play clock to the final seconds time and time again, and how often have Giants fans heard Eli’s “Omaha” snap call to avoid a delay of game?
Big Blue seemed to get things together as the game progressed, especially in the running game. It’s pretty ironic that the part of the game that was such a weakness in their 0-6 opening to the season was arguably their only strength yesterday. The Giants ran for over 200 yards with the combination of Andre Brown (127) and Brandon Jacobs (75), but it simply wasn’t enough.
The Giants defense never seemed able to make third down stops. They were able to get Dallas to third downs with relative ease, and it seemed just as easy for Romo to convert on those third downs. The Giants appeared to finally get the big stop they needed when Terrell Thomas stripped the ball from the receiver, and Hill recovered. However, a penalty was called as Matthias Kiwanuka was tagged for roughing Tony Romo after the pass. An arguable call but a call nonetheless. Eventually this lead to a Jason Witten touchdown on 3rd and goal and the Cowboys took a 21-6 lead. The penalty no doubt changed the game.
The Giants fought back on an exciting play for a fourth down touchdown from Manning to Myers. Later they were able to score another touchdown and Andre Brown punched in the two point conversion to tie with 5 minutes to go. However, the Cowboys ate the clock and moved the chains, and eventually set themselves up to kick a field goal to run out the clock and walk away with the win.
New York now sits at 4-7 with a terrible division record, and although they are not technically eliminated, everyone would agree that they needed to win that game to stay in the mix. A lot of things need to happen for the Giants to have a shot at this point, and I don’t think its going to happen. The fact of the matter is that the Giants aren’t playing consistent football. They have shown flashes of how talented they can be in all facets of their game, but never at the same time. Their consistency in being inconsistent has dug them into a virtually insurmountable hole with only five games left in the season. A team has never played a Super Bowl in their home stadium, and unfortunately for the New York Giants, they will not be breaking that trend.