There is no defense for the way the New York Giants played defense on Sunday night's game-winning play, and really, on the entire final drive as a whole.
As our friends at SB Nation pointed out, the Dallas offensive line blocked the Giants front four so long on the game-winning play that the whole thing doesn't fit in a Vine:
Dallas quarterback Tony Romo had seven seconds to throw this ball. The snap came with 1:11 to play. The ball was released by Romo in the direction of Dez Bryant with 1:04 left.
As former great NFL cornerback Deion Sanders said on NFL.com while watching the replay, "you cannot cover anybody that long." Especially Dez Bryant. Even if you are one of the best corners in the game, which Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, in man-to-man coverage on Bryant, is.
This was actually the second play on this drive, and the second time in three plays, that Romo was afforded seven seconds to throw the ball.
"We were trying to pressure with four and obviously that didn't work very well," said head coach Tom Coughlin.
There are two problems here. The Giants did not blitz once on the entire seven-play drive by the Cowboys, allowing Romo as much time as he wanted while he went 6-for-6 and won Dallas a game.
Blogging The Boys opined that the Giants' pass rush "went into complete shut down mode" on the final drive. That's hard to argue with.
Here is the other problem. The Giants were rushing four players -- without their two best pass rushers on the field. Robert Ayers, who leads the Giants with five sacks, and Damontre Moore, who had his third sack of the season Sunday, were on the sideline.
Here are the four defensive linemen the Giants had in the game on the final play:
Jason Pierre-Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka and run-stopping defensive tackle Mike Patterson were on the field for that play. The fourth lineman was either Johnathan Hankins or rookie Jay Bromley, it's difficult to tell. If that was Bromley, that's inexcusable.
The main point, though, is where were Ayers and Moore? If you are going to rush four you have to at least put your best pass rushers on the field to try and do it. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell did not.
Steve Politi of NJ.com wrote this about Fewell after the game:
"It's one thing to rush four when you've got Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck charging at the quarterback. Pierre-Paul and Kiwanuka didn't play poorly, but a good Dallas offensive line was able to easily neutralize them in the final moments.
It was up to Fewell to find a wrinkle, an advantage, anything. To rush four linemen on four straight Cowboys pass plays was asking for a Romo moment, and while it's still to early to know for sure if Coughlin will be back for 2015, it seems clear that his defensive coordinator won't be.
Where was defensive end Damontre Moore, who had a sack earlier in the game? Why didn't the Giants try something to make Romo uncomfortable? And does anyone remember when Pierre-Paul was truly an impact player?
Agreed. The Giants' defensive coordinator did nothing here except ask a group of sub-par pass rushers to plow straight ahead and try to get home against an offensive line that had a distinct advantage in talent.
That's not good enough. It cost the Giants a game -- yet another winnable game in a 2014 season that has seen the Giants find ways to lose too many of those.
We have seen not only this lack of aggression from Fewell before, but also this same mystifying inability to give his players the best chance, really any chance, to succeed.
I have said before that there is no way the Giants can justify retaining Fewell next season. Sunday's final drive dumped gasoline, gallons and gallons of it, on that fire.