It was the depth of the struggle that surprised last night. Was it shocking that the Giants had a hard time in short yardage? Was it impossible to have foreseen the running game struggles? No. But what was shocking was the agonizing completeness of the mistakes. Terrible pass blocking by David Wilson, limited push by the offensive line, a bizarre reliance on the run game in the series after Wilson was removed, a subsequent all-out reliance on Eli. Bad blocking on screens. Poor routes. Bad decisions. 6 turnovers.
The Giants of 2013, much like the team of 2012, may find themselves inexplicably always in games. They are always a big play away from being in it. Big passes to a healthy Nicks and a familiar 70-yard huge play by Cruz highlights what is very good about this team – and very bad. Sustained drives with 4 yard gains, 6 yard gains, 11 yard passes, third down conversions just didn’t happen – and didn’t happen all that often in 2012. Without big plays, these Giants can’t seem to score.
In fact, you knew it was coming on Mundy’s interception return. You could feel Murray’s pursuit and you could calculate the closing vector! When he tackled Mundy just short of the goal line, you found yourself thinking… well, they will definitely punch it in. Right? Right?!
No. A feeble dive, a loss, a miss again and it’s 3 points. This game was about a series of inexplicable opportunities and frustrating failure. The fact that the Giants still had a chance to win before Eli’s final interception was astounding, but perfectly in line with the way the game went and the way the Giants vs. Cowboys has been. Only the Giants could have so many mistakes and be so close to winning. And only the Cowboys could force six turnovers and still be in a position to lose.
On the bright side, the secondary played better than expected even after the loss of Prince Amukamara to a concussion – suffered naturally in a collision with his own teammate. Cruz looked nimble. Nicks looked healthy, but his seasonal beating began over the middle for sure.
As for Wilson, it’s possible that the Cowboys just made good plays on the ball. Twice. It’s also possible that teams are learning to key on the strong strip because he’s vulnerable to it. Truthfully, it’s his terrible pass blocking combined with his butter fingers that will bring in Brandon Jacobs or Willis Mcgahee.
As for Eli, he matched completions and yards with his brother, but he had the kind of day that he sometimes does. Bad luck, bad choices. 4 interceptions. With the prospect of a woeful running game looming, (14 total carries, 50 yards) we may be seeing the ongoing over-reliance on Eli and the big play. If Cruz and Nicks make it through the season, they both may have 90 catches and 1,300 yards.
How much can be addressed in a week? Coughlin, Gilbride and Fewell aren’t the most adaptable bunch, but things will have to change in a big way to avoid an 0-2 start.