Sunday, September 8, 2013
Halftime thoughts on a really weird game
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The bad news: It is difficult to imagine the New York Giants playing any worse than they played in the first half of their regular-season opener Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys. The good news: They're only down 13-10 at halftime.
It has been a bizarre game in which neither offfense has looked consistently competent. The Giants have 174 yards of total offense, but 127 of them came on two plays -- a 57-yard pass from Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks in the first quarter and a 70-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Victor Cruz in the second.
The larger issues for the Giants are the three turnovers they have committed and the stunning 21:31/8:29 time-of-possession ratio that favors the Cowboys. The latter resulted in a completely exhausted Giants defense that allowed Tony Romo the Cowboys to go down the field against them for 71 yards in nine plays and score a touchdown that put them up 13-3 with three minutes left in the half. Had Cruz not got behind confused Cowboys safety Will Allen for the 70-yard score a minute or so later, the Giants would be in far worse trouble.
As it stands, they may still be. The Giants lost two members of their secondary to injuries when cornerback Prince Amukamara and safety Ryan Mundy collided face-to-face at high speed making a tackle in the final minute of the half. Both went to the locker room, and we await further word. They also lost middle linebacker Dan Connor to a "burner" (whatever that is) during the long touchdown drive, and his absence showed up as Romo picked apart backup Mark Herzlich with those passes to Jason Witten over the middle.
Romo also left the game in the final minute, but the Cowboys say he merely had the wind knocked out of him and will return.
Some other thoughts:
Poor David Wilson is going to end up being known as the guy who fumbles in the opener against the Cowboys every year. Of greater concern, I think, is that he blew a pass-protection assignment that resulted in a George Selvie sack of Manning. Tom Coughlin criticized Wilson in the preseason for not diversifying his pass-blocking moves. On this play, he tried to go low on Selvie and whiffed.
Terrell Thomas is getting a lot of time on the field as the nickel cornerback, and Romo is finding Miles Austin against him in the slot a lot. Thomas is tending to play off of Austin, and he's made some nice tackles, but Austin already has 61 yards on eight catches. Witten has 62 on six as the Cowboys are targeting that middle part of the field against Thomas and the linebackers.
The Giants have been shading a safety to whichever side Dez Bryant has been lining up on. Bryant only has 13 yards on two catches, but he was a second-half monster for the Cowboys last year and could still come alive, especially if Amukamara and Mundy are out.
Jason Pierre-Paul is active but isn't playing on every play. They seem to be using him on third downs mainly.