All morning, I have been trying to pinpoint my exact emotion to accurately describe my reaction as I watched the New York Giants lose to the Dallas Cowboys, 36-31.
Not only was it the Giants’ first loss in Cowboy Stadium (now AT&T Stadium) since it was erected in 2009, but it was the first time in a long time that the Giants looked that sloppy.
Sloppy, disorganized, dysfunctional, aggravating, and to an extent, pitiful. Those adjectives come to mind as you look for a way to fully describe what occurred last night.
But there are two things that are certain from last night’s game. The Cowboys’ didn’t beat the Giants. The Giants beat the Giants. Secondly, no blame should be placed on Eli Manning.
Manning was the reason the Giants weren’t blown out by the Cowboys. The Giants trailed the entire game and while it was looking bleak entering halftime, Victor Cruz read a defensive miscue and Manning read it as well, resulting in the first touchdown of the game and making it 10-13, instead of 3-13 to head into the first half.
Then in the blink of an eye, David Wilson opens the second half by fumbling a second time, resulting in a touchdown for the Cowboys, shifting the score, 10-20 in favor of the Cowboys. After a failed series, Tony Romo found Jason Witten for a touchdown to increase the lead to 10-27.
What did Manning do? Cower and concede?
No, he proceeded to do what he has always done his entire career. Fight until the last whistle blows.
Manning slowly went downfield before connecting with Cruz again in the endzone for a touchdown. Then, after a Dan Bailey field goal, with under 10 minutes in the 4th quarter, Manning again found Victor Cruz for his third touchdown of the night and brought the Giants back within one possession, down 24-30.
But of course, it was too good to be true. As Manning gave all he could, the Giants running game proved to be the nail in the coffin as Da’Rel Scott slowly turned to receive a pass from Manning only to tip the ball upwards into the hands of Brandon Carr, who returned it for a touchdown and thus clinched the game for the Cowboys.
With a loss imminent, Manning still went full throttle. With less than a minute to play, he found newly acquired tight end Brandon Myers in the end zone to give the Giants one last chance.
While the Giants couldn’t recover the onside kick, none of the blame should rest on the shoulders of Manning. He put forth a valiant effort and strangely enough, ended with the same number of completions and pass attempts as older brother Peyton Manning, 27/42 and finished with 450 passing yards.
The receiving corps should have no blame either as each of the top three receivers, Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle all finished with 100 plus receiving yards.
Even the Giants secondary played well, keeping the Cowboys offense to only score 17 of their 36 points. If the Giants turnovers were taken away, the Giants would have crushed the Cowboys, 31-17.
This article would then be speaking to the effect of the Giants chances at reaching the Super Bowl by clinching the NFC East.
Does last night’s performance hinder such a thought? Absolutely not. The Giants are still NFC East contenders and are still Super Bowl contenders. This is what you expect when you have a second year running back who had limited playing time last season and limited time in the offseason due to the new collective bargaining agreement. Not to mention an offensive line that has been plagued with injuries and age, it’s a miracle that the Giants offense was able to put up 31 points.
There is a lot of pointing fingers and a lot of the blame game going on and most of it should rest on the running game of the Giants as well as their defensive line.
But none of the blame should rest on Eli Manning. Without him last night, who knows what we would be talking about today?
Next week is New York Giants vs. Denver Broncos, or Eli Manning vs. Peyton Manning. Eli will be ready, but will the Giants team, as a whole be ready? It’s very tough to say, but for Eli’s sake, I hope so.