GIANTS 10 / COWBOYS 7
As has become commonplace for the New York Giants this year, their win versus the Dallas Cowboys was not pretty. But considering some of the nail biters the Giants have played this year, and considering they were going up against the best team in the NFL, Big Blue's 10-7 win was their best performance of the season.
Giants D was HUGE: This game was about one thing and one thing only, the Giants defense. After giving up a first quarter touchdown to Terrance Williams, the Giants completely shut down one of the most potent offenses in football. New York held the Cowboys to just 260 yards of offense, and held Dallas to a putrid 1-for-15 on third down. More importantly they made Dak Prescott look like a rookie, and neutralized the effectiveness of Ezekiel Elliot.
The game was clearly won upfront on the line of scrimmage. The Cowboys have prided themselves this year as having the best offensive line in football, but the Giants made them look second rate on Sunday night. Prescott was under duress all night. He was sacked three times, hit a total of eight times and threw two huge interceptions. It could have easily been three picks had Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie held onto the football deep inside Dallas territory in the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter alone, the Giants held the Cowboys to a measly 38 yards on 18 plays as Dallas never got farther than their own 32-yard line.
The last time Dallas ever got into Giants territory, there was 4:29 on the clock in the third quarter. That is how dominant the Giants defense was.
For a team that was missing its leading sacker in Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants didn't miss a beat, as his replacement Romeo Okawa was incredible. He blew things up from the blindside, recording eight tackles, a sack and three quarterback hits. Devon Kenard was also big, recording six tackles, a sack and punishing Elliot on the ground with a couple of tackles for a loss.
It was a showcase.
Eli Manning and company Struggle Again: While the Giants D was spectacular, the Giants offense was again amiss. Eli Manning had accuracy issues for much of the night, completing only 17 passes for 193 yards and an interception. He was very fortunate that he didn't throw a second pick late in the fourth quarter when the Giants were at their own 32 yard line. Had that happened, the Cowboys would have been in field goal range. Manning wasn't helped by the fact that his receivers again let him down with a number of costly drops, including three by Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr. Speaking of Beckham, he continues to 'wow' when it matters. While the drops were killer, he made the biggest play of the day when he hauled in a 61-yard touchdown from Manning to put the Giants up for good. Beckham's touchdown catch continues what has become a disturbing trend for the Giants, where their offense falls asleep for long periods of time, before exploding when it needs to.
What's Next: The Giants host the (9-4) Lions at the Meadowlands on Sunday. This game means a lot to both, obviously. Both of these teams have their eyes on the playoffs, and win by either will go a long way in cementing a ticket to the playoffs. A loss will throw either team into the muck with Green Bay, Minnesota, Atlanta, Washington, and Tampa Bay. Detroit needs the game to inch closer to a division title in the North. The Giants would love to get their 10th win now, in order to put more pressure on Tampa Bay and Green Bay.
Even if the Giants win on Sunday, 10 wins doesn't guarantee anything. There is a scenario where if the Giants, Bucs, Redskins, and Falcons all finish with 10 wins then the Giants would be out. Looks like 11 is the magic number.
What to expect: A great ballgame between the Lions high-powered offense against the Giants high-octaine defense. Matthew Stafford will be wearing a glove on his hand due an injury he suffered against Chicago on Sunday. His effectiveness in the bitter cold of New Jersey will be a huge factor in who wins this game. For the Giants to win, they must reestablish themselves offensively.