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Giants-Cowboys ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’: Too many missed opportunities doom Giants

Who deserves praise and who deserves criticism?

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Darnay Holmes can’t stop CeeDee Lamb on this play.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants came up short Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys. Let’s get to the ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ following the Giants’ third loss in four games.

Kudos to ...

Darius Slayton — What a catch by Slayton to set up the Giants’ only touchdown.

He finished Thursday’s game with three receptions for 63 yards. He now has 27 catches for a team-high 476 yards and two touchdowns. Where would the Giants’ passing offense be without him?

Graham Gano — Gano tied Aldrick Rosas’ franchise record with a 57-yard field goal. He added a 47-yarder, rebounding nicely from missing two extra points on Sunday when he was kicking despite being so sick he looked like he should have been home in bed.

Kayvon Thibodeaux — Thibodeaux was a handful for the Dallas offensive line. He had only one tackle and did not record a sack, but he had five quarterback hits. Entering the game, he had only three QB hits in his first eight games. The only blemish on his day was a fly-by on what should have been a sack of Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott in the third quarter.

Richie James — James led the Giants with five receptions and a touchdown, albeit the TD and a couple of those catches came in garbage time. James made an outstanding catch on an off-target Daniel Jones throw on a third-and-4 to extend the Giants’ only touchdown drive. By the way, his 28 receptions are the most for any Giants’ wide receiver.

Jamie Gillan — The Giants’ punter rebounded nicely after a pair of poor games that earned him ‘Wet Willies.’ Gillan twice dropped punts that could have been downed inside the 5-yard line only to see the coverage not be able to secure the ball. On one of those, Nick McCloud dropped the ball at the 1-yard line. Gillan’s other two punts resulted in fair catches, and he did not allow a single return yard in his four punts.

Rodarius Williams — Forced into significant duty because of injuries, the second-year cornerback responded with an interception on a late Prescott throw and a pair of passes defensed. He was part of a depleted secondary that forced a pair of interceptions and competed well.

Gary Brightwell — The Giants used Brightwell some in a two-back set with Saquon Barkley, and Brightwell ended up with five carries for 31 yards.

Wet Willies to ...

Saquon Barkley — The Giants’ star running back had only 39 yards on 11 carries. He also had a game-changing drop on a fourth-and-1 play in Giants’ territory late in the third quarter with the Giants trailing by a point.

Be critical of Jones’ throw on the fourth-and-1 if you want. That’s justified. The ball, though, needs to be caught, and Barkley knew it. Be critical of the run blocking from the constantly-changing offensive line. That’s justified, too. The Giants, though, have got to have more from their best player if their playoff dreams are not going to go up in smoke.

Daniel Jones — If I’m going to give Barkley a ‘Wet Willie,’ I have to give Jones one, too. If the quarterback gives Barkley a good throw on that fourth-and-1 it might have been a touchdown, not just a conversion. Jones was off-target on a few key throws that could have been first-down conversions. He did not throw any interceptions and did not make any egregious mistakes, but the Giants’ margin for error is razor-thin and plays that should be made have to be made if they are going to win games. Jones missed a few of those on Thursday.

Darnay Holmes — Perhaps this ‘WW’ should really go to the idea of covering Cowboys’ wide receiver CeeDee Lamb with a player who is basically an average slot cornerback. Holmes, though, was given that job and wasn’t up to it. He had two pass interference penalties, one declined and one highly questionable, but without reviewing the game it seemed like most of Lamb’s six catches for 106 yards came with Holmes trying in vain to keep up with him.

Andrew Thomas — I hate giving Thomas this one since the Giants’ stud left tackle was playing despite not feeling well. Still, while the Pro Football Focus breakdown isn’t out yet, Thomas likely ends up being charged with both Micah Parsons’ sacks of Jones. Those would be the first two sacks allowed by Thomas this season.