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Sunday, November 14, 2010
Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 33, Giants 20

By Ohm Youngmisuk

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Some thoughts on the New York Giants' 33-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

What it means: Who turned the lights out on the Giants? In a bizarre game, the power went out at New Meadowlands Stadium and it was dark for a stint. The Giants were experiencing a power outage well before the lights went out as their defense disappeared long before the blackout. A five-game winning streak was snapped as the Giants simply couldn’t stop the Cowboys. Instead of taking one step closer toward being the best team in the NFC East and possibly the NFC, the Giants stumbled badly at home. The Giants, who were so dominant during the winning streak, looked horrendous at times against the Cowboys. As is often the case, the Giants are never as good as they appear but rarely as bad as they can look. But it wasn't pretty as Eli Manning threw two picks, one resulting in a 101-yard touchdown for Dallas and another near the end zone as the Giants were making one last comeback attempt.

Defenseless: The Giants came into this game as the top-ranked defense in the NFL and looked like the worst at times. The Giants not only were torched for 33 points by a previously dormant Dallas offense but they looked lost at times. There were blown coverages, missed assignments and confusion. At one point, Fewell had an animated discussion with Tom Coughlin as he tried to explain what went wrong after Miles Austin caught an easy 24-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. On another occasion, safety Deon Grant had a heated discussion with his teammates after another Dallas touchdown. Cowboys rookie receiver Dez Bryant looked unstoppable. The Giants defense hadn’t been this out of sorts since the second game of the season when it was waxed in Indianapolis.

Big D: Dallas played much better under new head coach Jason Garrett and the Dallas sideline was fired up by two monster plays. Cornerback Bryan McCann intercepted Manning in the end zone when Hakeem Nicks failed to cut hard inside and took it 101 yards for a touchdown that put Dallas up 16-3 with 7:34 left in the second quarter. Then in the third quarter, Felix Jones was left uncovered on a short screen and he cruised into the end zone for a 71-yard touchdown catch on the third play of the second half. On both monster plays, the Dallas sideline exploded.

Lights out: New Meadowlands Stadium lost power in the third quarter twice and the second time caused a nearly 10-minute delay. When the lights finally came back on for good, the Giants scored a touchdown to cut the deficit to 26-13. But Dallas' offense didn’t experience any power outage as it responded by driving 85 yards in six plays and scoring a touchdown on a pass to Austin. The Cowboys converted a third-and-22 on the drive as the Giants' safeties seemed to react slowly throughout.

The Smith factor: Smith had torched the Cowboys for a total of 25 catches for 345 yards and two touchdowns in his previous three games against Dallas. With Smith out due to a pectoral injury, the Giants struggled to convert third downs. They were just 3-of-9 on third down in the first half without Manning's security blanket. Giants wide receivers still had success against a banged-up Dallas secondary. Nicks finished with five catches for 82 yards but did have one big drop early in the fourth that would have kept a drive alive. Mario Manningham had 10 catches for 91 yards and a TD and Ramses Barden, who moved up to the third receiver, finished with three catches for 34 yards.

Hold the line: The Giants started Kevin Boothe, who was recently activated off the physically unable to perform list, at left guard. Rich Seubert started his second straight game at center and Shawn Andrews started his second game at left tackle. The offensive line gave Manning time for the most part. But there were some hiccups as William Beatty, returning from foot surgery after the opening game of the year, had a few penalties. Also rookie guard Mitch Petrus, who had to play after Boothe was out for a bit with an injury, was flagged for a facemask penalty. When the Giants needed one yard for a first down on a critical fourth-and-one with just over 10 minutes to play down 33-20, Brandon Jacobs was stopped short. Later in the fourth, Manning threw a 48-yard touchdown to Nicks that would have put the Giants right back in the game but Boothe was called for holding. On the next play, Seubert delivered a low snap that Manning could not collect, resulting in a fumble recovery for Dallas on the Giants’ 21 with just over seven minutes remaining.

What's next: Pretty much the biggest game of the season for the Giants. They travel down the turnpike to Philadelphia to get their first crack at Michael Vick and the Eagles. The NFC East could very well come down to the Giants and Eagles and it will be interesting to see how Perry Fewell will try to stop Vick and the Eagles’ explosive offense. And the Giants likely will not have wideout Steve Smith again and could be without offensive linemen Shaun O'Hara and David Diehl well.