Tom Uddo, ContributorLooking at the box score, you wouldn’t think to say that the Giants defense stood tall last night in their 36-31 loss to the Cowboys. Anytime your team gives up more than 30 points, it might be easy to cast blame on one side of the field.
The Giants defense had their back against the wall numerous times after the offense committed six turnovers, but the defense kept the team in the game time and time again and looked nothing like the 31st ranked unit of last season. To make matters worse, the Giants would lose two of their starters, Prince Amukamara and Dan Connor, who both left the game with injuries.
Just five seconds into the game on his first pass of the season, Eli Manning threw an interception right into the hands of Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware, as a failed screen attempt left all of the pressure on the defense. With the Cowboys getting the ball in the Giants’ red zone, they were unable to counter on the opportunity, settling for a Dan Bailey field goal…but it was only the beginning.
Manning would go on to throw another interception in Giants territory, while David Wilson had a hard time holding onto the ball, a flashback to last season as he fumbled the ball on his first carry. Somehow, the Giants were only down by the three points at the half, even with their defense spending 21 minutes 31 seconds on the field.
Ryan Mundy would force the only Cowboy turnover, with a 91-yard interception return that left the offense inside the 5-yard line, but in the same fashion, the Giants could not get into the end zone. After a Manning sack, the field zone unit would come onto the field to clean up.
Mundy was also involved in the collision with Amukamara, as their helmets collided when they both went in for a tackle. The two left the field for evaluations and while Mundy was cleared to play, the Giants posted on Twitter last night that Prince sustained a concussion, a huge blow for Big Blue’s secondary.
Even with the six turnovers, the Giants were still in the game in the final minutes. The defense was able to stop the Cowboys on consecutive possessions during the fourth quarter, leaving the game in the hands of an offense that was stagnant all night and could not deliver on prime opportunities to score.
In a game that coach Tom Coughlin called “sloppy” was just that and some more. If there a positive to take away from the Giants first loss at the new Cowboy stadium, which is tough to see, it’s that even with six turnovers, the lack of possession and the out of sync offense, the defense was holding their own. Justin Tuck looked better last night than he did for a majority of last season, while Jason Pierre-Paul, who has been recovering from back surgery and was questionable to play, was on the field at critical times and is getting healthier each day.
Even with the injury to Amukamara, the secondary was able to adjust. Romo finished with 263 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, as the Giants were able to keep star receiver Dez Bryant relatively quiet for the night. Romo had the most success spreading the ball around the field, as he completed 36 of 49 passes to eight different receivers, but wasn’t able to throw the long ball, with the longest reception being 23 yards.
The miscues were mainly on the offensive side and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell cannot be too upset with his defense. Even with six turnovers, the Giants lost by less than a touchdown and had the ball in the fourth quarter with the chance to take the lead.
This week, the Giants will welcome Eli’s brother, Peyton, and the Denver Broncos to MetLife Stadium for their home opener. Big Blue will again, rely heavily on their defense, as Peyton comes off a game where he threw for seven touchdowns, tying the NFL record. If the Giants have any chance against the Broncos, they are going to need a stellar performance from their defense and hope that their offense can rebound from a miserable week of football.