Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 24, Giants 17
September, 5, 2012
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- The New York Giants' title defense got off to a sour start as the Dallas Cowboys exposed serious concerns and handed the defending champs a 24-17 loss.
What it means: The Giants clearly have some work to do. The running game was nonexistent for most of the game. Defensively, the Giants had trouble stopping the run and now are dangerously thin at cornerback. The pass rush could not get their hands on Tony Romo enough.
Dallas' offseason moves to improve the secondary paid off in this game as Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz were held in check. The Giants cut a 24-10 deficit to 24-17 on a late touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett. But the defense could not get a stop on a third-and-12 with 2:11 left, when Romo hit Kevin Ogletree, who killed the Giants.
If the Giants want to win the NFC East, they'll have to play much better than this. But then again, they did lose a lackluster season opener to the Redskins last year.
Giant concerns: Entering the game, the Giants might've had some concerns at left tackle and right cornerback. They started Sean Locklear at left tackle and Michael Coe at right corner. But it was right tackle David Diehl and left cornerback Corey Webster who struggled early in this game.
Diehl gave up two sacks to DeMarcus Ware in the first half. And Webster, who was shadowing Dez Bryant for most of the first half, gave up a 38-yard catch to Bryant that would help Dallas score a touchdown late in the first half. And early in the third quarter, Webster bit on a double move by Ogletree, who scored his second touchdown on a 40-yard catch.
Coe actually prevented Ogletree from catching a third touchdown in the third quarter, but he left the game with a hamstring injury after that and could miss next week's game. Coe started for Prince Amukamara, who is out with a high ankle sprain.
With Coe out, Miles Austin beat Justin Tryon and made a leaping catch on Tryon and Antrel Rolle before scoring -- a devastating 34-yard catch-and-run touchdown on a first-and-30 with under six minutes left that put the Cowboys up 24-10.
Where's the beef? The Giants couldn't run the ball and they had trouble stopping the run.
Without Brandon Jacobs, the Giants struggled badly to rush the ball. Ahmad Bradshaw had very little room to run until breaking a big run late in the game as the Giants' offensive line looked no better than it was last year, when Tom Coughlin's team finished dead last in the NFL in rushing.
Defensively, DeMarco Murray kept chipping away and began hitting for big runs, which is a concern with Chris Canty on the PUP list for at least the first six games.
Rookie mistake: It didn't take David Wilson long to get his first carry as he got the second Giants handoff of the game on the second drive.
But he fumbled his second pro carry after getting hit hard by Sean Lee. Lee recovered to stop the Giants at the Cowboys' 28-yard-line in the first quarter.
The Giants were concerned about Wilson's ball security coming out of Virginia Tech. He still has to earn the trust of the coaching staff, and this did not help.
But eventually the Giants will have to give him more touches because the running game really struggled in the first half and looked in dire need of a spark.
Wilson did start as the kickoff returner.
Welcome back, Hixon: With the Giants trailing 14-3 in the third quarter and the air sucked out of the stadium, Manning launched one of his up-for-grabs passes hoping his receiver would make a play. And Domenik Hixon did, hauling in a 39-yard catch between two Cowboys defenders to set up a 10-yard touchdown run by Bradshaw that pulled the Giants within 14-10.
The last time we saw Hixon make a circus catch was in the back of the end zone against St. Louis in Week 2 last year -- the same play he tore his ACL for the second straight season.
What's next: Thanks to their Wednesday opener, the Giants have a mini-break before they play Tampa Bay on Sept. 16 at home. It will be a homecoming for Tampa head coach Greg Schiano, Rutgers' former coach, and Tampa's offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, the Giants' former quarterbacks coach. Running back D.J. Ware also returns after being released by the Giants last week.