The New York Giants did what the could Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys, but it wasn't good enough in 31-21 loss that pretty much knocks the Giants out of the NFC East title race. Let's review in our traditional 'Kudos & Wet Willies' style.
Kudos To ...
Odell Beckham Jr. -- Four receptions, two for touchdowns. A 13-yard run on a reverse. Two punt returns for 21 yards. The Giants waited a long time for Beckham's hamstring to cooperate and let him on the field, but give GM Jerry Reese credit here. The Giants drafted themselves a star.
Jason Pierre-Paul -- Two sacks, six tackles (three for loss), three hits or hurries on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and a Pro Football Focus grade of +7.9. All of that working against Tyron Smith, the great Dallas left tackle. That's an impressive night.
Johnathan Hankins -- Don't fault Hankins for the 128 rushing yards compiled by DeMarco Murray. The second-year player from Ohio State is a monster in the middle, even unblockable at times.
Eli Manning -- The Giants quarterback went 21-of-33 for 248 yards and three touchdowns, with a passer rating of 116.7. Manning had to throw the ball away a ridiculous four times and had two passes dropped. He gets no blame for this loss. He was up to the task, he just didn't have enough help.
Steve Weatherford -- A couple of times this season mis-directed Weatherford punts that went down the middle of the field rather than outside the numbers have hurt the Giants. Not Sunday. Weatherford punted five times, had two punts downed inside the 20-yard line and consistently pinned Dallas return man Dwayne Harris to the sideline, giving up just six yards on two returns.
Michael Cox -- Had a 40-yard kickoff return and averaged 29.0 yards on three returns. That is easily the best kickoff return work the Giants have seen all season.
Rueben Randle -- Came up with six catches, including a nice one-handed grab and showed some toughness going over the middle to haul in a catch for a first down while taking a pretty solid hit. You have to think Randle is always going to have some "brain-freeze" moments, but he does have 34 receptions already.
Prince Amukamara -- This one is likely going to be hotly debated. With Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie limited, Amukamara, after all, was in coverage for most of the damage done by Dez Bryant (9 catches, 151 yards). Look at the game, though, and Amukamara fought valiantly. He had what could have been a game-altering interception and 38-yard return. He had two passes defensed, once making an excellent recovery to bat a deep pass away from Bryant. The Amukamara-Bryant match-up was like a microcosm of the game. Amukamara was good, even very good at times. He was in great position on many of the receptions by the Dallas star. Bryant was just better.
Giants Are Pretenders, Not Contenders
•Big Blue ViewThe Giants are pointed on the right path, but they are not yet ready for the NFL's big boys. The last two weeks proved that.
Wet Willies To ...
Will Beatty -- The left tackle has played some terrific football this season, but not Sunday. He took two penalties, including a costly false start when the Giants were ready to go for it on fourth down and less than a yard to go from their own 46-yard line trailing 7-0 early in the second quarter. He allowed four hits or hurries of Manning, the majority of pressure Manning faced all night.
Run Blocking -- The stats say the Giants ran the ball for 4.0 yards per carry, getting 104 yards on 26 rushes. That looks successful. The stats, though, lie. Big-time. Take away one 22-yard run by Andre Williams, a 13-yard reverse by Beckham and an 11-yard scramble by Manning you are left with 23 carries for 58 yards, a meager 2.5 yards per rush. All six Giants' offensive linemen, including tight end Larry Donnell, finished with negative run-blocking scores from Pro Football Focus. What makes it worse is that Dallas entered the game with one of the NFL's worst run defenses, giving up 5.1 yards per carry. The Giants could not take advantage.
Larry Donnell -- Two fumbles, including the one killed the Giants' comeback chances. Enough said.
Weston Richburg -- Against mediocre teams Richburg looks like a promising young offensive lineman with the potential to be outstanding, which he is. Against the really good teams Richburg looks like an over-matched rookie who is still trying to learn his craft, which he also is. Sunday was a rough night for Richburg, who struggled to get push in the run game and allowed two pressures on Manning.
Mathias Kiwanuka -- While Pierre-Paul was battling one of the best offensive tackles in the game on the other side and winning a pretty good amount of the time, Kiwanuka was for the most part getting nothing done against Jermey Parnell, starting in place of the injured Doug Free. Kiwanuka played 57 snaps. Damontre Moore played nine. It is time, probably past time, for that to stop. Kiwanuka offers leadership and still has the desire. He just doesn't have the ability. Moore will make mistakes and will, at times, just not be strong enough to hold up vs. the run. He is, however, the future opposite JPP. That future needs to start now.
Jayron Hosley -- The Giants' third slot corner was the victim when Dallas scored its first touchdown, simply planting his feet in quicksand and standing still while Gavin Escobar ran by for an easy touchdown catch. The Giants watched Hosley struggle for only 15 snaps and got him out of there, pushing Quintin Demps and the equally overmatched Chandler Fenner into the slot in Hosley's place.
Disagree with any of these, Giants fans? Did I leave anyone out? Let us know in the comments.