Instant Analysis: The dream is dead for the Giants

Dan Bailey of Dallas celebrates his game-winning kick - Al Bello

The Giants are mathematically still alive for a playoff berth, but the reality is that the 2013 season ended Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Mathematically, the New York Giants can still win the NFC East and make the playoffs. The reality of the situation, however, is that the Giants' 2013 season died when Dan Bailey split the uprights as time expired Sunday to give the Dallas Cowboys a 24-21 victory at MetLife Stadium.

At 4-7, the Giants are two games behind the Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles, and can't win the division tie-breaker over either team. Dallas is 4-0 in the NFC East, the Eagles are 3-2 and the Giants are 1-3.

"We knew we had to win this game to keep the dream alive," said cornerback Terrell Thomas. "We just didn't make enough plays."

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I have no clue how to explain the fair-catch interference called on Will Hill in the third quarter. Josh Brown's pooch kick was muffed by Everette Brown of Dallas. Brown gave him plenty of room and went after it when Brown popped it into the air. The call was that the receiver had to be given the opportunity to complete the catch. If he muffed it, I see that as already having had the opportunity to catch it. How can the Giants not be allowed to try and recover a muff? How does the receiving player get two chances to catch the ball? Dallas recovered, anyway, but I still don't get the call at all.

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Hakeem Nicks was listed as questionable and word was that he would be a game-time decision. Nicks, however, was not in the locker room and it seems him playing today was not a realistic possibility. I really have no idea what Nicks' injury is or what the severity of it is, but I am even more convinced after today that Nicks will be an ex-Giant after this season. To me, it has seemed all season as if Nicks, a free agent at the end of the season, has had one foot out the MetLife Stadium door.

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Dallas had converted just 1-of-8 third downs entering the final drive of the game. They converted three straight on the game-winning drive, however. Dallas took advantage of the groin injury suffered by starting cornerback Trumaine McBride which forced slot corner Terrell Thomas to go outside and Antrel Rolle to move down to the slot. Two of the three first downs came when the Cowboys were able to get their best receiver, Dez Bryant, matched up against Rolle.

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I know many of you will call for younger players like Damontre Moore and Adrien Robinson to see playing time over the next five weeks. It will be very interesting to see how that plays out. The Giants need to face reality and make sure the young players they will count on in 2014 get some experience the rest of the way.

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The Giants ran for a season-high 202 yards. Andre Brown had 127 yards on 21 carries and Brandon Jacobs carried 9 times for 75 yards. The big day was no consolation to Brown. "It's a team game, indvidual stats don't mean a thing." We will talk about this more on Monday, but as well as the Giants ran the ball I felt there were times -- particularly in the second half -- where they got away from the run too soon. On their game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter, an 8-play, 58-yard march, the Giants ran on the first four plays and five of the eight overall. I would have liked to have seen more of that.

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The Giants went 1-for-3 in the red zone, twice settling for field goals in the first half after getting inside the Dallas 10-yard line. Those missed chances killed the Giants in the end. "You just have to capitalize when you have scoring opportunities," Brown said.

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Asked about his first-quarter fumbled, which Josh Heath returned 50 yards for a score, Victor Cruz said he knew the Cowboys would try to strip the ball. "I can't let those type of things happen. I've gotta take better care of the football," Cruz said.

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The Giants lost McBride in the fourth quarter. They lost starting center Jim Cordle to a knee injury early in the game. Kevin Boothe moved to center and James Brewer slid in at left guard.

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