Giants vs. Cowboys, 'Kudos & Wet Willies' Review

Terrell Thomas reacts after failing to recover a fumble - Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Big Blue View reviews Sunday's Giants-Cowboys game in our traditional 'Kudos & Wet Willies' style.

Let's review the wreckage from Sunday's season-killing 24-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys by the New York Giants. We do that, of course, with our traditional 'Kudos & Wet Willies.'

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Kudos To ...

Andre Brown -- The running back was extremely effective Sunday, carrying 21 times for 127 yards (6 yards per carry). Brown also caught four passes, even if one was a screen pass that went for a 10-yard loss.

Steve Weatherford -- It was cold. It was windy. No doubt Weatherford remembered his miserable game in the wind vs. the Oakland Raiders two weeks ago. Weatherford, however, hit punts of 68 and 67 yards and wound up averaging 54.6 yards on five punts. He pinned the Cowboys inside the 20 twice.

Brandon Myers -- The tight end made a brilliant play on his 27-yard third-quarter touchdown. It was a fourth-and-two play and Myers made a terrific one-handed leaping catch. When no one touched him at the 8-yard line, he bounced up and scored.

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via twitpic.com

Cullen Jenkins -- The veteran defensive tackle had a pair of sacks. Jenkins also had two other hits on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo.

Wet Willies To ...

Mathias Kiwanuka -- The veteran defensive end committed two bad penalties. One was a roughing the passer penalty for basically clotheslining Romo that negated a fumble recovery by Will Hill. The other was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. That's more penalties than tackles for Kiwanuka, who had an assist and a half-sack. That's not good enough, just like most of the season the veteran defensive end has had.

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via twitpic.com

Yes, that is roughing the passer. There really isn't much of anything to argue about there.

Red Zone Offense -- Twice in the first half the Giants had first-and-goal situations. Twice they settled for field goals. As much as anything else that happened those two failures were largely responsible for the Giants losing the game. Blame the play-calling. Blame the execution. Blame both. Whatever. Two field goals there weren't good enough.

Kevin Gilbride -- Any time I bring up the offensive coordinator in a situation like this, I know the firestorm that is coming. After Sunday I have to do it, anyway. It was obvious that the Giants wanted to take some shots down the field against a weak Dallas secondary, and that's fine. The Giants also achieved the perfect balance head coach Tom Coughlin craves, 30 runs and 30 passes on Sunday. Yet, the Giants achieved that perfect balance at the expense of sticking with a running game that was gashing the Cowboys -- and probably cost themselves points in the process.

Three times in the second half the Giants moved the ball largely because of their running game, only to abandon it at critical junctures.

  • On their opening drive of the second half the Giants got runs of 11 and 16 yards from Andre Brown to move to the Dallas 39-yard line. Then? An incomplete deep shot to Victor Cruz and a 4-yard run by Brandon Jacobs put the ball at the 35. With the wind the way it was this way four-down territory, so why not run the ball on third down? Instead, Eli Manning threw two straight incomplete passes and the Giants turned the ball over.
  • On their second possession the Giants -- now trailing 21-6 -- moved to the Dallas 27 and faced third-and-three. Here again the Giants abandoned a running game that averaged 6.7 yards per attempt on Sunday. Myers bailed the Giants out with a brilliant catch here that resulted in a 27-yard touchdown, but this still was not the right way to play this situation.
  • On their first drive of the fourth quarter Andre Brown gained 9 yards on first down. Rather than running the ball again and moving the chains, the Giants went to the pass. After an incompletion, Brown was stuffed on third-and-one. The Giants punted.

Gilbride is not being fired immediately, nor should he be. What would that accomplish at this point, other than to satisfy the blood-thirsty appetites of those who have wanted him fired for years? The Giants have enjoyed a lot of success over the years with him calling the plays. I did not, however, understand what Gilbride was doing in the second half.

Victor Cruz -- Tough to criticize Cruz, but he had only two catches for 27 yards and his first-quarter fumble cost the Giants seven points. The fumble was a classic case of trying to do too much. At some point, when you have three or four guys grabbing at you twisting and fighting for an extra inch is foolish and counter-productive. That's what happened to Cruz. Just go to the ground before something bad happens. Cruz didn't, and something bad did happened.

Jason Pierre-Paul -- Before the game Pierre-Paul talked about blood being spilled, and then he went out and was absolutely invisible. Pierre-Paul had one tackle and no pressures in just 27 snaps. The defensive end was obviously bothered by his right shoulder injury, but injury or no injury when you run your mouth and fail to back it up you get criticized. JPP couldn't back up his big talk.

Antrel Rolle -- Yes, Rolle had an interception. Yes, he was forced to play the slot on the final drive due to the injury to Trumaine McBride. Rolle, however, was the victim on all three Dallas third-down conversions on that game-ending drive. He also had a foolish penalty for a late hit out of bounds that gave the Cowboys first-and-goal at the Giants' 6-yard line in the third quarter. They converted that into a touchdown.

Terrell Thomas -- Mostly for guaranteeing a victory when he should have stayed quiet, but also for letting Jason Witten run right by him to catch a 20-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Thomas was not apologetic for his boast after the game. As much as you admire the guy you wonder why Thomas, or any Giants player, would talk like that leading up to such a big, emotonal game.

Perry Fewell -- The Giants' defensive coordinator only chose to blitz Romo once on the entire 14-play game-ending drive. Failing to attack is almost always a recipe for failure, and that's what happened here. Fewell failed to allow his defense to attack, and the Giants failed to prevent a drive that basically killed their season. I can't fault Fewell for having Rolle in the slot at the end of the game -- he had little choice -- but he wasn't nearly aggressive enough.

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