AT&T Stadium was anything but "home" for the New York Giants on Sunday night as they fell to the Dallas Cowboys 36-31. It was a nightmarish game from the onset, and despite a near comeback in the fourth quarter, Big Blue just couldn't get things right and, ultimately, it cost them.
They fell to 0-1 on the season and, obviously, 0-1 in the division. It was far from an ideal start to their year and there's a lot that they will need to work on this coming week. But, for now, let's take a look back at the positives, negatives and everything in between.
- Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle became the first wide receiver trio in franchise history to each have 100+ yards in a single game. In total, the group hauled in 15 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns — three's are wild here, folks. Save for one drop by Cruz, the group was nearly flawless.
- Terrell Thomas returned to the field (during the regular season) for the first time since 2010 and didn't appear to miss a beat. Coming back from three ACL tears (two consecutive), T2 was flying around the field, making plays and showing the world he can still be an impact player. He ended the game with seven tackles and one pass defensed, but more importantly than anything else, he felt good afterwards.
- Justin Pugh looked solid in his NFL debut. And although it didn't go off without any hiccups, the rookie really held his own and simply blended quietly into the game. That's exactly what you want from your offensive linemen. Generally, you only hear their name(s) when they've done something wrong. This kid has a bright future.
- The secondary as a whole played far better than many expected. Corey Webster had a solid game and that has gone mostly overlooked, as has the performance of safety Ryan Mundy (except for his 91-yard interception return, which has drawn quite a bit of praise). Antrel Rolle made quite a few plays, Amukamara looked like a true No. 1 prior to his injury, and even Aaron Ross looked good other than his pass interference penalty.
- Justin Tuck — welcome back. He was all over the field making plays, putting pressure on Tony Romo and causing hell for the Cowboys' offensive line. Shame his performance is being overshadowed by the loss.
- It won't be talked about much, but the defensive tackles all did a very good job on Sunday, as did linebacker Spencer Paysinger (he's emerging as the Giants' best linebacker).
- David Wilson, after promising not to repeat his performance against Dallas from a year ago, coughed the ball up on his very first carry of the game. Again. And then he added to it later with another fumble before ultimately being benched. Unfortunately, in between the fumbles, he wasn't playing all that well either. Despite appearing improved throughout the preseason, his pass protection is once again being called into question … and rightfully so.
- Chris Snee struggled mightily on Sunday night. Whatever blind loyalty the team or a fan has towards him, there's no denying how poorly he played. The Cowboys were able to repeatedly expose a gap between he and center Kevin Boothe for much of the night, routinely forcing Manning to scramble for his life.
- Brandon Myers has good numbers when you look at the box score, but much of that came late in the fourth quarter. The reality is, he had a bad drop early in the game and his blocking was atrocious.
- Mark Herzlich really struggled on Sunday night, especially in coverage against Jason Witten. He seemed drastically over-matched. And why Jacquian Williams was not being used in those situations is anyone's guess.
- Turnovers killed the Giants on Sunday night. There's no other way around that. In total, they turned the ball over six times (the most in any game for Big Blue over the last 25 years) and were -5 in turnover ratio. You just can't win football games when you do that.
- Time of possession was another thorn in the Giants' side on Sunday night, but that was partially due to six turnovers. The Cowboys had the ball for 37:10, while the Giants had it for only 22:50. Hard to believe it was even worse in the first half, with the Giants having the ball for only a little over 8:00. Again, you can't win football games that way.
- Eli Manning threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns, but the stats will also show three interceptions. They won't show that two of those interceptions, both on screen passes, were not likely his fault, and no one wants to hear that anyway. No one wants to hear about the three drops, either. Accordingly, Manning falls into the "mixed" category based on the outside perception alone.
- Henry Hynoski made his return and, at times, looked solid. Unfortunately, there were other times where he looked extremely rusty. That's just the nature of coming back after a relatively serious injury with very little practice time. He'll get better as he works that rust off.
- Jason Pierre-Paul. See above.
Wide receivers Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle, and cornerback Terrell Thomas.
OVERALL PERFORMANCE GRADE: D+
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