It was the most exciting Giants football game since their electrifying victory over Carolina Panthers last year. There were eight lead changes, and neither team was ever ahead by more than six points.
On a night when Dallas defense stifled Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants were led by Eli Manning, who completed 25 passes in 38 attempts, for 330 yards, with 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions, for QB rating of 110.6. Manning also had phenomenal 156.3 rating on passes of ten or more yards – 158.3 is perfect!
Steve Smith and Mario Manningham emerged as future stars. They each had ten catches, for a total for 281 yards.
Two Giants were injured. Domenik Hixon sprained his knee after a 13 yard catch in first quarter, and did not return. Justin Tuck, last week’s Defensive Player of the Week, was injured in third quarter. Tuck fell on his left shoulder, after being tripped by Cowboy left tackle Flozell Adams, who has led league in penalties since 2007. Tuck’s X-rays were negative, he will have an MRI later today. Tuck watched the fourth quarter on the sidelines, with his arm in a sling. Tuck said:
“It was bush league. He did it a few times, and they only called one.”
Cowboys stars linebacker DeMarcus Ware, and running back Marion Barber, were both injured in fourth quarter.
Porous Ground Defense
Dallas rushed 29 times for 251 yards and three touchdowns.
Marion Barber had a great game before he was injured, gaining 124 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown, and 31 yards on two receptions. Barber strained left quadriceps, falling during a 35 yard run, which would have been a touchdown.
Felix Jones was also effective, gaining 96 yards on only seven carries, with one touchdown.
Cowboys frustrated Giants with excellent plays, splitting defense several times, for big gains. I hope new defensive coordinator, Bill Sheridan figures out what went wrong.
Potent Passing Defense
Giants depleted offensive line and secondary, thwarted Dallas air attack. Tony Romo threw three interceptions, and finished the day 13/29 for 127 yards, with one touchdown. Romo also scored once on a three yard run.
Romo appeared to be frustrated and confused for most of the game.
Wide receiver Roy Williams, who received five year, $45 million contract from Cowboys last year, caught one pass, for 18 yards.
New Giants Contribute
In his first game for Giants, Michael Boley led Giants defense with six tackles and one assist. Safety Kenny Phillips, who replaced injured Aaron Ross, was great, and finished with two interceptions, five tackles, and two assists. Undrafted rookie cornerback Bruce Johnson, replaced injured Kevin Dockery, and returned a 34 yard interception for a touchdown.
Eli Manning Stays Cool
After Barber’s injury, Felix Jones scored on seven yard run, giving Cowboys 31-30 lead, with 3:40 remaining.
Unlike Tony Romo, Eli Manning remained focused and calm.
When a ten yard holding penalty on rookie receiver Derek Hagan, left Giants facing first and 20 on their own 15 yard line, Manning said he calmed team by “not saying anything.” Under pressure, on second and 18, with Manning scrambling, Hagan redeemed himself, by racing toward Manning, and catching 12 yard pass.
Completions to Steve Smith and Mario Manningham left Giants with a third and four on Cowboy 41 yard line, when Giants got lucky.
A seemingly errant pass to Mario Manningham was tipped by Cowboy nose tackle Jay Ratliff, and caught by Manningham for an eight yard gain, which led to winning field goal. Manning said:
“They came with an all-out blitz. We had a slant backside to Mario. He got open, he won. He did a great job of staying with it and concentrating on getting the catch. It was a big play for us.”
It was the 13th fourth quarter comeback of Manning’s career. He also completed his 100th career touchdown during game.
Eli Manning has become a great quarterback. I hope he stays healthy. NBC provided interesting statistic, that Manning and his offensive line, have played more consecutive games together, than any group in NFL history.
Positives and Negatives
Giants played inspired football, against team which should have been inspired, to play first game, in most expensive stadium ever built.
Steve Smith and Mario Manningham demonstrated why Giants did not trade for experienced receiver to replace Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer. Derek Hagan, Hakeem Nicks, Danny Ware, Sinorice Moss, and Ramses Barden, will not see much action if Smith and Manningham can carry team, when Giant ground game stalls.
Negative: Giants continued to struggle inside “red zone.”
Giants (2-0) face Derrick Ward and Tampa Bay (0-2) at Raymond James Stadium, next Sunday at 1 P.M.