For a long time on Sunday it looked like the New York Giants might pull out a win against division rival Dallas Cowboys. But as has so often happened this season, they collapsed in the fourth quarter, giving up three scores in less than five minutes.
It turned into a depressingly familiar scene for the Giants, a 30-10 loss, but they did have a couple winners in the losing effort — and there were a quartet of losers.
Winner - Rhett Ellison
The same week the general manager who signed him was fired, Ellison had his “breakout” game as a Giant — or at least a “breakout” by this offense’s standards.
Ellison was Eli Manning’s chief receiving target for most of the first half of the game, and he responded with four catches on five targets for 20 yards and a touchdown. He disappeared in the second half as the Giants reverted to more of their familiar “11” set, but he played well, and could have had a bigger day in a more aggressive game-plan.
Winner - Wayne Gallman
The Giants were committed to running the ball to take pressure off Manning, and as it turned out, the rookie running back became their “featured” runner.
Gallman responded well on his 12 carries, picking up 59 yards, with an average of 4.9 per carry. He was clearly the Giants’ most explosive running back, hitting holes hard and finishing his runs. He was also their second-most targeted receiver with 7 catches on 9 targets for 40 yards.
Gallman has shown enough that he deserves a bigger role in the offense through the last three games.
Loser - the Giants’ defense
It was a close game for most of the afternoon, but there were cracks early on. The Giants struggled to make tackles and gave up chunk yardage to extend drives that they should have ended. A missed tackle by Brandon Dixon led to a long touchdown by Dez Bryant, and the Giants seemed to fail as often as not to make tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
It all came to a head in the fourth quarter when the Cowboys scored three times in less than five minutes. The demons that have plagued the Giants’ defense all season long — mistakes, sloppy play, and injuries all reared their heads against Dallas.
Loser - Giants’ hands
The Giants lead the league in drops by a wide margin, and they added to that total today with drops in crucial moments. Though it led to a questionable non-call, the end of the Giants’ hopes for winning was probably a drop of a well-thrown and placed ball by Roger Lewis Jr.
More drops by Evan Engram, as well as the running backs, helped doom the Giants’ efforts while the game was still tied.
Loser - Eli Manning
Manning made his return to the Giants’ starting lineup, and the team promptly let him down. He was efficient all game long, in an offense that was called as if terrified of losing or attacking the defense. The Cowboys gave the Giants plenty of opportunities to win, but the Giants consistently dropped the ball — literally.
Manning played far better than his final stats indicate, being picked off twice while furiously trying to engineer a come-back with a depleted offense that is barely built to play with a lead. It’s unfortunate that his offense couldn’t rise to the occasion and make a play when their quarterback gave them the opportunity
Loser - Dan Bailey
I don’t often go over to the other team for these, but Bailey looked very off Sunday afternoon. Not only did he miss a 53-yard field goal, but the normally hyper-accurate Bailey also missed a 50-yard field goal and an extra point attempt.
His uncharacteristic inaccuracy helped the Giants hang around in the game, but their inept offense simply could not capitalize on the opportunities with which they were presented.