The Monday night game was the worst game we have seen from the New York Giants in the small three-game sample size. Although we have seen signs of issues in previous games, many of those issues converged on Monday night.
Even with the team’s issues, they still had an opportunity to come away with their third win in a row, but there were key moments that did not go their way, leading to this outcome.
Ultimately, everybody on this team needs to perform to their ability to ensure they give themselves their best opportunity for team success. Let’s look at four plays that helped undo the Giants' bid for a third strain victory.
1st & 10, DAL 29: Where’s Saquon?
The opening offensive script for the Giants must have involved either getting the passing game off to a fast start or was adjusted when Saquon Barkley was tackled for -1 yard on a 2nd-and-2, backed up in their own territory.
The Giants lined up and passed the ball eight straight times. But when they picked up the first down on Daniel Jones’ 20-yard pass to tight end Daniel Bellinger, they sat with a 1st-and-10 within striking distance.
The next three plays were incomplete passes. To not get Barkley a touch, especially considering he already had a 12-yard reception, seemed a little off. That left Graham Gano with a 47-yard field goal attempt that was blocked.
It was a four-play sequence that left a bad taste in one's mouth after successfully moving the ball between the 20s.
1st & 10 at DAL 37: Where’s the Gap Integrity?
After both teams exchanged field goals, the Cowboys had the ball in good starting field position thanks to a short kickoff and decent return.
Everybody knows that the Cowboys' run game on first down is integral to their offensive identity and success. The Cowboys ran a basic inside zone play to their left.
Jihad Ward did a great job securing the C-gap, and Dexter Lawrence has complete control of the A-gap. The only thing left to do is for inside linebacker Austin Calitro to shoot the B gap, and Dallas’s running back Tony Pollard would have to choose between bouncing it to a waiting Ward or cutting it back into a waiting Lawrence.
Instead, Calitro shot the A-gap in what seems to be an attempt to backdoor the play. He is picked up easily by the left guard, and Pollard never has to leave his track until he is in the secondary 46 yards later.
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The Cowboys could only muster seven more yards after that gain, but it was enough to get them into comfortable field goal range, giving them their second three points of the night in what should have been a forced punt.
4th & 2, DAL 47: Go Back to Barkley!
After an offensive pass interference penalty negated the best play receiver Kenny Golladay has made this season, on third down, Daniel Jones delivered a screen pass to Barkley that he was able to take for 21 yards, nearly picking up the first down.
That left head coach Brian Daboll with a decision to make with 24 seconds remaining until halftime. He kept the offense on the field, and the Cowboys called a timeout. The timeout is significant because if Saquon Barkley had been a little drained after that run after the catch, a timeout would have been enough time to regain his wind.
Instead of running the ball with Barkley or getting the ball to him out of the backfield, the Giants called a slant pass to Golladay that was thrown behind him with a defensive back draped all over him.
4th & 4 at NYG 41: Unreasonably Aggressive!
After exchanging touchdowns, the Giants could not put another score on the board and punted it back to the Cowboys. After a few good plays and a defensive penalty, the Cowboys worked their way into Giants' territory, but they were now faced with a fourth down.
With the game tied and over 10 minutes remaining, the safe call would have been to punt. They could have also tried a 59-yard kick. Instead, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy decided to go for it.
Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale had six defenders on the line of scrimmage on the snap of the ball, but only four rushed off the line of scrimmage, and one defensive back blitzed off CeeDee Lamb lined up in the slot.
Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush fired a ball to Lamb, which he could bring down just as the free safety was able to lay a hard hit on him. The issue was that the defensive back’s only chance of getting to the quarterback on the blitz was if the quarterback held the ball.
However, that blitzing defensive back was the immediate hot read and allowed the quarterback to throw the ball. If the defender hadn't blitzed, Rush would have had nowhere to throw the ball. The two defenders that did not blitz were waiting for the quick throw to the number three receiver on the shallow cross.
Two plays later, Rush hit Lamb again for a big gain to the one-yard line, and the next play Lamb caught the fade ball over Adoree Jackson for the touchdown. That touchdown gave the Cowboys a 7-point lead with only eight and a half minutes remaining in the game.
On the next possession, the Giants went three-and-out, and the Cowboys could put another three points on the board to take a 10-point lead. Given the flow of the game from the Giants' side, there was a feeling that the Giants did not have what it took to make up that two-score deficit.
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