EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Head coach Tom Coughlin said the New York re-configured their offensive line prior to Sunday's game with the Dallas Cowboys "to try to create a spark" on offense.
Did it work? Well, to be kind, not really.
The Giants did score 28 points. They did have their moments offensively. They did have some long touchdown drives. Mostly, though, whatever the Giants accomplished offensively was due mostly to the absurd individual brilliance of rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham and in spite of the work of the patched together offensive line.
Geoff Schwartz, a punishing run blocker, replaced the injured Justin Pugh at right tackle. Veteran Adam Snyder replaced rookie Weston Richburg at left guard. Coughlin said he hoped the changes would help the Giants run the ball better than they have in recent weeks. That, however, didn't happen. The Giants ran the ball 32 times for 89 yards, only 2.8 yards per carry.
Worse, the line did not hold up consistently in pass protection. Early in the game it appeared that it would, but quarterback Eli Manning faced increasing pressure as the game wore on.
Manning was sacked twice, both times near the end of the first half, and was pressured constantly during the second half. The stats show that he was hit only four times, but he was under constant duress.
There were times when we did have a nice mixture and there were times when we had trouble," Coughlin said. "We had trouble pass protecting."
Manning missed a third quarter opportunity to hit a wide open Beckham for what might have turned into an 87-yard touchdown simply because he had so much pressure in his face that he couldn't get the ball down the field. Instead, he had to dump it to Rashad Jennings for a short gain.
Schwartz made his debut after spending the first 10 games of the season on short-term IR with a dislocated toe. He made it through the entire game at right tackle. Snyder wasn't as lucky. He left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury, pushing Richburg back into the lineup. Will Beatty also left briefly on the Giants' final scoring drive, with James Brewer filling in at left tackle.
"I was happy with our effort," Schwartz said. "We played well.
"We scored 28 points ... I thought we protected Eli well. We ran the ball hard. I'm pretty proud of our effort. We played hard tonight."
As has happened too often this season, though, playing hard didn't necessarily mean playing well. It also didn't add up to winning a game.
The Giants will now have to wait and see whether Pugh (quad) will be able to play next week vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars, see how badly Snyder is injured and see how the Giants want to structure their offensive line next week. After Sunday's mixed-bag of a performance you get the idea that the shuffling isn't done.