John Fennelly, Lead Writer
John Fennelly, Lead Writer
The Cowboys big three of QB Tony Romo, RB DeMarco Murray and WR Dez Bryant are difficult to stop and practically impossible to completely contain. The Giants hung in for as long as they could, but they simply don’t have the speed or depth on defense to go to-to-toe with Dallas. Right now, few teams do.
DL: Cullen Jenkins left the game after 11 plays after injuring his calf. The DL rotation was upset with Jon Hankins and Mike Patterson playing additional snaps. Hankins had another strong game as did DE Jason Pierre-Paul (six tackles, two sacks), who palyed 60 of 62 snaps and took advantage of Pro Bowler Tyron Smith (ankle). But…they could not stuff Murray as planned. He ran through and around the line with regularity, even after turning his ankle. They got some pressure on Romo, but in the end, it was not enough. Romo was able extend plays and find open receivers.
LBs: With MLB Jon Beason (foot/toe) departing after just 17 plays, the unit had to shuffle up again. Jameel McClain slid into Beason’s spot and rookie Devon Kennard took over at SAM. Jacquian Williams played all 62 defensive snaps and had seven tackles (six solo). The unit was in reaction mode most of the day trying to contain Murray, who got loose a few times. Overall, an average performance.
John Fennelly, Lead Writer
Where they’ve been…
The Giants began the regular season with a thud, losing the opener to the Lions in Detroit and following that up by laying an egg at home vs Arizona. They then embarked on a three-game winning streak, beating Houston, Washington and Atlanta before flatlining in Philadelphia and crumbling in Dallas.
For a team that was forecast to win 6-8 games this season, they are right on schedule at 3-4. They are a mediocre team performing in step to their expectations.
A new offense, implemented in the offseason, has been met with mixed results. They are ranked 23rd overall (15th rushing, 23rd passing), have struggled at times and were shut out by the Eagles in embarrassing fashion.
The defense was retooled and restocked during the offseason, but thus far the results have been pretty much the same. They are currently ranked 25th overall (21st rushing, 24th passing) and have looked unimpressive, to say the least, in September and October.
Injuries have played a role in the team’s stagnation. RB David Wilson was forced to retire due to a spinal condition. Geoff Schwartz, signed in the offseason to anchor the middle of the offensive line, has not played a down. He is on recallable-IR with a toe injury. And, of course the most devastating blow, the torn patellar tendon suffered by star WR Victor Cruz, ending his season.
In addition, the club’s first round selection in last April’s NFL Draft, WR Odell Beckham, Jr., missed the first four games of the season with a hamstring. Another WR, Jerrel Jernigan, in his “make-or-break” season, was lost for the year with a foot injury.
John Fennelly, Lead Writer
Overall grade: C
QB: Eli Manning completed 21 of 33 passes for 248 yards with three touchdowns, was not sacked and threw no interceptions, finishing with a passer rating of 116.7. He also had an 11-yard run for a first down. It was his first no-sack, no-INT game since an Oct. 14, 2012, victory in San Francisco. Eli continues to play clean and efficient football, which was the goal at the outset of the season. Unfortunately for him, it hasn’t been enough at times.
RB: Without Rashad Jennings, the Giants rushing attack has ground to a halt. Rookie Andre Williams (18 rushes, 51 yards) has been a disaster as a feature back in Jennings’ absence. Peyton Hillis (6 rushes, 29 yards) fared a little better, but hasn’t gotten much of a chance to establish himself. Williams was also targeted three times in the passing game, but did not have a reception. If he had not broken off a 22-yard run, his statistics would read 17 carries for 29 yards (1,7 YPC). He was stopped for losses or no gain for most of the day and an early whistle saved him from losing a fumble. A 13-yard reverse by WR Odell Beckham, Jr. and an 11-yard scramble by Eli save this facet of the game from getting another F grade.
The Giants (3-3) try to put their shutout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles behind them when they travel to Dallas to play the 5-1 Cowboys.
Kickoff: 4:25PM EDT
Site: AT&T Stadium
Surface: Matrix artificial turf
Weather: Partly cloudy, high 70s (if retractable roof is open)
TV: FOX — Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman, Charissa Thompson (Field reporter)
Radio: WFAN 660AM, 101.9FM — Bob Papa, Carl Banks, Howard Cross SIRIUS: 133 (NYG), 85 (Dal) XM: 85 (Dal)
Referee: Jerome Boger
The Line: Cowboys by 6 1/2; O/U 48
The Series: Dallas leads 59-42-2 and has won three of past four meetings.
Last meeting: Cowboys 24 at Giants 21 (11/24/13). Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant caught nine passes for 86 yards and tight end Jason Witten had two touchdown catches. Cowboys safety Jeff Heath scored on a 50-yard fumble return.
Last meeting at Cowboys Stadium: Cowboys 36, Giants 31 (9/8/13). Dallas wide receiver Miles Austin had 10 catches for 72 yards. Cowboys defense had three interceptions, including cornerback Brandon Carr’s 49-yard interception for a touchdown.
OUT: RB Rashad Jennings (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Spencer Paysinger (hamstring), CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back, hamstring)
PROBABLE: LB Jon Beason (toe), P Steve Weatherford (left ankle)
OUT: LB Bruce Carter (thigh), T Doug Free (foot)
DOUBTFUL: DE Jack Crawford (calf)
PROBABLE: WR Dez Bryant (shoulder), LB Cameron Lawrence (thigh), LB Rolando McClain (groin, not injury related), RB DeMarco Murray (illness), T Jermey Parnell (chest), QB Tony Romo (back, ankle), T Tyron Smith (ankle), DE Anthony Spencer (knee, foot)
Quarterback Eli Manning has won four of five starts at AT&T Stadium & has a 100-plus rating in three of those five. Manning has started 157 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL.
Running back Andre Williams leads NFC rookies with 228 rush yards.
Wide receiver Rueben Randle had 5 catches for 101 yards last year in Dallas. Tight end Larry Donnell has four touchdowns, the past three coming on the road. Donnell is tied for the lead among NFC tight ends with four receiving touchdowns. Rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.. made five of his six catches on first down (83.3 percent).
In past the three meetings in Dallas, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had four sacks and scored a touchdown on a 28-yard interception return. Pierre-Paul is the only defensive end in the NFL with two interceptions for touchdowns since 2012. Safety Antrel Rolle has an interception in three of the past four games; those three have him tied for the NFL lead.
Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins had two sacks last year against Dallas. Defensive end Damontre Moore has a sack in two of the past three games.
The Cowboys have won five in a row and are 5-1 for the first time since 2007.
Quarterback Tony Romo aims for his third win in a row against the Giants. Romo has a 100-plus QB rating in seven of his past 11 starts against the Giants. He had a 110.2 rating last week and is third in the NFC (100.5).
Running back DeMarco Murray leads the NFL with 785 rush yards and six rushing touchdowns. Murray has 100-plus rushing yards in all six games this year and joined Jim Brown (1958) as the only players with 100-plus rush yards in a team’s first six games. In the past three meetings, he has 391 yards from scrimmage (130.3 per game), including 303 on the ground (101 per game).
Since 2011, Bryant has 38 receiving touchdowns, the most in the NFL. Wide receiver Terrance Williams has four touchdowns in the past four games.
Tight end Jason Witten has 900 career catches. Whitten, 32, is the second-youngest to reach this mark. In 2012, he had a career-high 18 catches and 167 yards against the Giants.
Cornerback Brandon Carr had an interception for a touchdown at MetLife last year. Defensive end George Selvie had a sack and fumble recovery last year in Dallas. Safety Barry Church has 22 tackles and two forced fumbles in their past three meetings.
John Fennelly, Lead Writer
This game could be one of those hidden land mines like last week’s whitewashing at the hands of the Eagles. No one saw it coming. Everyone to a man felt the Giants would either win the game or put up a lot of points in a close loss. This week, the Cowboys are flying high and appear to be unbeatable. No one is buying that the Giants can hang with Dallas this afternoon. The betting line, which opened at Cowboys -4, has ballooned to 6 1/2.
So, can the Giants win this game? Yes, they can. Consider this…
No home field advantage. Dallas owner Jerry Jones built one of the league’s biggest and best venues and has reaped the monetary benefits the past few years. He did not, however, foresee the downstream effect that year-after-year he’s got to fill that stadium. What has happened is many unsold and secondary market tickets are falling into the hands of fans of the opposing team. In a recent home game vs the Houston Texans, QB Tony Romo had to go to a silent count due to the noise from the thousands of Texans fans. Expect many fans to show up in Giant gear today and do the same thing.
On offense – the Giants will try to run the ball (surprise!), and this week they may succeed. Dallas may not be able to crowd the box like Philly did last week. With the cowboys best linebacker, Bruce Carter, out today they just don’t have the defensive depth and ability the Eagles do. Their defense has been competitive this season but are shallow and have benefited from the offense hogging up the clock, which has kept them off the field. If the Giants can wear them down up front, they can open up the offense and make a game of this.
We know Eli will show, he loves this building. The offensive line may not be under the duress they experienced last week, so expect a better performance and results. RB Andre Williams will fight for yards and we believe he will get them. With Victor Cruz gone, TE Larry Donnell has to get more looks and WR Rueben Randle has to make more plays. He has been getting the targets (49 targets, 28 receptions), but for the offense to be successful, Randle has to use his size and ability more aggressively. The Cowboys would be foolish not to keep a keen eye on rookie Odell Beckham Jr., which could open up Preston Parker to be a silent weapon. The Giants have to get into the red zone more than once this week. When they do, Donnell and WR Corey Washington should be in the lineup to create mismatches.
On defense – the main objective is to slow down RB DeMarco Murray, the league’s leading rusher. Easier said than done. Last week, MLB Jon Beason was nowhere near 100% and was rusty. Expect him to be hitting the holes faster and do a better job closing on the ball. The Giants will need to get some speed on the field, and they will have options at their disposal. Devon Kennard is back from a hamstring and Jayron Hosley will be the slot corner. As long as Hosley doesn’t get isolated by a bigger receiver on the outside, he can be an effective play-maker. Kennard, combined with Jacquian Williams should be able to limit edge runs by Murray.
DE’s Jason Pierre-Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka, Damontre Moore and Robert Ayers should also have a better showing. Both Cowboy tackles, Tyron Smith and Doug Free, are injured. Smith (ankle) will play but Free (foot) will not. He will be replaced by Jeremy Parnell, who has just two NFL starts under his belt. The Giants may be able to finally get some pressure off the edge and hurry Romo.
Special teams – Josh Brown did not get back on the field after the opening kickoff last week. That’s always a bad sign. The Giants will be satisfied with the special teams if they don’t turn the ball over and don’t allow a big run back. That would be considered a win. Yes, that’s what its come to.
Prediction: Giants 34, Cowboys 27.
John Fennelly, Lead Writer
With the Giants down Victor Cruz for this season and possibly part of next, many Giant fans may be wondering this morning why their team did not try to land Seattle Seahawks KR/WR Percy Harvin when his availability became known. Instead, it was the Jets who swung the deal.
The Giants are in need of a top WR, no doubt, but there are a bunch of reasons for the Giants to pass on Harvin.
First off, let’s talk about the positives the Seahawks realized by dealing him. Harvin was a cancer that was blowing up team chemistry. He was just as volatile a weapon off the field as he was on it. He “wasn’t a fit” according to sources and the Seattle Times is reporting on a long litany of ills involving Harvin, including blackening the eye of teammate Golden Tate before last year’s Super Bowl (Seattle Times, Oct.17).
Harvin also has a propensity for getting or being injured. After playing in 45 of the first 48 games of his career, which began in Minnesota in 2009, Harvin played only nine games in 2012 and then hip surgery held him to only one regular season game after being traded to Seattle in 2013. This year, the Seahawks vowed to keep him healthy, but his attitude was worsening (he refused to take the field in the Seahawks’ final drive last week) and a recent thigh injury was threatening to keep him out this week.
The Seahawks, who signed Harvin to a six-year, $67 million contract in March of 2012 (of which $25.5 million was guaranteed), decided it was time to cut it’s losses. He is still owed approximately $7 million for this season, which is guaranteed, and his cap numbers for the next four years read as follows: 2015: $10.5 million, 2016: $9.9 million, 2017: $9.95 million, 2018: $11.15 million. In short, Harvin wasn’t worth keeping.
For the Giants, who have approximately $8.9 million in cap space, trading for Harvin would not only chew up that cushion but create cap issues going forward. Plus, they would not trade a mid-round draft choice for an oft-injured, overpaid prima donna who is by many accounts a “ticking time bomb.”
Talent-wise, he would be a perfect fit. He’d bolster the WR corp as well as give them a gamebreaker in the return game. But let’s be realistic. With the Giants focusing on leadership-type players, Harvin is a player the Giants make a point of steering clear of. Under the new “knuckleheads need not apply” edict at QDTC these days, he’s not an option.
My take is that the Seahawks thought that Harvin could give them that extra dimension, and they were right, initially. He helped them win a Super Bowl, but he’s not a team player. It’s been written the Seahawks have been shopping him for awhile and, with that heavy price tag, had few – if any – takers until they were able to unload him on old friend John Idzik and the 1-6 Jets, who are doing everything they can to change the narrative on their dismal start to the season.
It’s also possible that Seattle did not want Harvin in their immediate path. They not only wanted to trade him out of the conference, they wanted to trade him to a losing team with expendable cap space in the AFC that they won’t face for a few years. No team fits that destination better than the Jets, who are 1-6, have over $24 million in cap space and don’t play the Seahawks in the regular season until 2016.