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Cowboys 44, Giants 20: 5 things we learned from the nightmare in Dallas

Just about everything that could go wrong for the Giants, did.

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

It’s difficult to overstate just how bad the New York Giants 44-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys was.

It isn’t just the lopsided loss that was bad, but how it happened. The Giants came into the game beat up and desperately needing a win to build on a surprise victory over the New Orleans Saints.

Instead, they failed to capitalize on the opportunities that came their way and their injury situation went from bad to horrific. The Giants might have fought, but so many of the problems which got them in their 1-3 hole reared their ugly heads, and that was before Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones, and Kenny Golladay were all injured

Then the wheels fell off completely.

There are few positive takeaways from a game like this. You don’t even want to roast marshmallows when you burn the tape.

But we still have to go back and see what there is to learn.

Injuries suck

Ya know, I’m getting REALLY tired of this one, but the Giants just keep getting hurt.

First it was Andrew Thomas being out of the starting lineup with a foot injury. Then Saquon Barkley goes down with a nasty looking ankle injury when his foot was stepped on in an awkward collision following a failed connection with Daniel Jones.

And then the Giants manage to drive down the field and knock on the door to the end zone. Devontae Booker failed to get in on his first two tries, so the Giants called a quarterback run. It wasn’t an unexpected call, and the Cowboys were ready. Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse when Jones lowered his head to initiate contact with rookie linebacker Jabril Cox. Jones didn’t get into the end zone, ended up staggering as he stood and was helped off the field.

And as if all that wasn’t bad enough, wide receiver Kenny Golladay was announced out with a knee injury in the Giants’ first possession of the second half and Rookie cornerback Rodarius Williams was ruled out early in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.

The 2-minute curse

For the fifth time in five games, the Giants capped the first half by allowing the opposing offense to drive down the field and score a touchdown inside of the 2-minute warning.

The Giants’ defense had played reasonably well — all things considered — through the first half. But once again the offense was able to find enough answers when they needed them to keep the drive alive.

James Bradberry had the chance to be the hero of the half with a near interception of Dak Prescott. However, the ball bounced off Bradberry’s hands and fell harmlessly incomplete. Prescott hit Amari Cooper for a 24-yard touchdown strike on the very next play as the four-time Pro Bowler got rookie Rodarius Williams turned around in coverage.

The Giants have a lot of problems right now, but their habit of giving up momentum-shifting touchdowns in the waning seconds of the first half is something they need fix immediately.

Aggression works

You wouldn’t know it based on the final score, but the Giants’ defense played one of its best games this year.

Well, sorta.

Patrick Graham was faced with a no-win situation by the Dallas offense. He could choose play coverage and try to contain Prescott, Amari Cooper CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz, and the rest of Dallas’ arial weapons. Or he could play single-high safety, stack the box, and try to shut down Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, trusting the secondary to hold up with on islands.

Graham chose option “C” and attacked the offense.

While I don’t have the Giants’ blitz rate at hand, it seemed as though the Giants were sending extra rushers on nearly every play.

The Giants benefitted from some bad mistakes and missed opportunities by the Dallas offense, but it’s also entirely likely that their pressure packages helped create those situations. Cowboys’ center Tyler Biadasz, in particular, had a rough game and that could have been related to the Giants’ game and blitzes up front.

It even looked as though the defense could shoulder the burden and keep the offense in the game after Daniel Jones went down late in the second quarter.

Ultimately, Dallas proved to be too much and they overwhelmed the defense. Once Prescott settled in he was playing too well, finding too many targets too easily. And once again, the Giants’ run defense proved shoddy as Dallas was able to eclipse 200 yards on the ground for the second week in a row.

But at least we saw some signs of life from the defense. We’ll need to see more of them in the coming weeks, and Patrick Graham might as well go down swinging.

Kadarius Toney

This was originally going to be in praise of Toney.

The rookie played a great game and was the only real bright spot on a miserable evening for the Giants. Toney’s stop-start quickness and versatility makes him an absolute weapon for an offense that was basically devoid of bright spots.

That is until he got himself thrown out of the game. It’s good to have fight in you, and nobody ever wants to back down. But professionals need to be professional and know when, where, and how to get back at opponents.

Yes, he was shoved after making a play, and he has a right to be upset, but he needs to beat the defense on the scoreboard and in the film room. However, he just has to be smarter than retaliating — and certainly smarter than throwing a punch with a closed fist.

First off, that’s courting a broken hand, which would be devastating considering all the injuries suffered by the Giants in Dallas. That’s just a boneheaded move for a young man who makes his living with his hands. But also, it’s possible that the punch could earn Toney discipline from the NFL. That could be very bad news for a team that is already missing players as it stands now.

The Giants need Andrew Thomas back

Things were looking up after the Giants come-from-behind win in New Orleans. 1-3 isn’t great, but it’s better than 0-4 and the Giants had a chance to finish tonight one game back for the division lead.

But now the Giants are 1-4 and looking at a potentially brutal stretch of games leading through their bye week. This was always going to be a tough stretch of games for the Giants, and it could be almost impossible with the injuries suffered today.

A look at the box score suggests that the Giants’ pass protection was actually pretty good, that they were able to compensate for the absence of Andrew Thomas. After all, neither Daniel Jones nor Mike Glennon got sacked despite all the speed on the Dallas defensive front.

But in this case the stats lie.

While neither Jones nor Glennon got sacked, they were under pressure all game. Randy Gregory simply ate Nate Solder’s lunch and the rest of the offensive line was leaking pressure all game long. Likewise, the Giants struggled to get much of anything going on the ground.

It’s likely that the Giants could be relying on Glennon for a while. And while they are, they at least one lineman they can count on. Over the next two weeks, the Giants will face the terror that is Aaron Donald and a very good Carolina Panthers’ defense. Donald’s resume speaks for itself, and dealing with him will likely require a triple team. The Panthers are one of the most aggressive blitzing teams in the NFL, with the third-highest hurry rate and the league’s best pressure rate coming into Week 5.

Thomas’ presence won’t fix all of the Giants’ offensive problems, but he would at least make designing their blocking schemes easier.