In the build-up to a game between bitter rivals with serious divisional implications, naturally everybody wants to have their say.
On Sunday evening, the New York Giants roster failed to ‘walk the walk’ in line with the plentiful talking that they did prior to their NFC East showdown with the Dallas Cowboys.
When in the regular eyes of the media and with the increasing demands from the press, you’ve got to say something — that’s part and parcel of the modern game — though you’ve got to be tactful about it. Eli Manning and Antrel Rolle (who was once again the most productive Giants’ defender on the night) adopted a civil approach speaking off it being “an important game” and that “everyone just kept their confidence rising”. Others such as defensive ends Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul opted to add a little spice to the occasion preemptively speaking of the “barnburner” to come and that “blood will be spilled”, whilst maintaining a degree of respect for the opposition.
Others however, were a little more misguided. Under-producing tight end Brandon Myers came out with this just hours before the game:
Time to separate the MEN from the BOYS. #GMEN
— Brandon Myers (@myersb83) November 24, 2013
Myers effectively wrote Jason Garrett’s pre-match speech for him.
Fresh from their bye-week and buoyed by some over-zealous statements from their opposition, the attritional Cowboys took to the field at Metlife Stadium with a purpose that was evident from the start.
In a refreshing twist to the plot, the Giants turned the ball over only once on the night; unfortunately for Victor Cruz it was at the ultimate cost as his fumble was returned for a 50-yard defensive touchdown by Jeff Heath. Manning went interception-free for the entirety and he’s finally shaken the tag of quarterback with the most turnovers in the league (shout out to Geno Smith of the New York Jets) though his performances remain largely uninspiring; Manning finished the game with just 174 passing yards against a Cowboys defense that was allowing an average of 313 yards-per-game through the air.
Continuing the trend of uninspiring performances from a man that has shown he can do much better, enter the stage Mr Cruz. Following his costly fumble early in the fourth-quarter, Cruz drifted through the rest of the game largely unnoticed catching just one more pass before the clock expired on the now 4-7 Giants.
At least the Giants running game reinforced the statistical mismatch by having their way with the opposition’s 30th-ranked run defense. Andre Brown continued his resurgence, running hard by his own estimation and accumulating 127 yards as part of a potent rushing duo that gained more first downs than their aerial-based colleagues. Completing the tandem was Brandon Jacobs who ran for the Giants longest rushing gain on a single play of the season en route to a final average of over 8 yards-per-carry, though his efforts came very much in vein. The Giants receiving corps that were minus Hakeem Nicks for the first time this season, were perhaps best summarized by the fact that it was the feature-back Brown that finished the game with the most receptions (4).
The Giants defense, their salvation for the past month, recorded four sacks for the third time in four outings, though it was the hunted-Tony Romo that had the last laugh as he drove his team down field, manipulating the clock on a late game-winning drive.
The winning-streak is over and the Giants now find themselves needing to win every remaining game if they are to make an improbable push for the postseason, something they will find extremely difficult with the one-dimensional offense that was on display in Week 12. Whilst many stones are left unturned, one obvious lesson that the Giants roster has learned this week is that somethings are better left unsaid.