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Turnovers led to loss in season-opener

Posted Nov 20, 2013

The Giants players reflected on the six turnovers that led to a season-opening loss in Dallas

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants opened their season in Dallas on Sept. 8 by gaining 478 yards, including 428 through the air. In the nine games since that night, they didn’t get closer than 75 yards in either statistical category. But it was another season high that most determined the outcome, a 36-31 Cowboys victory.


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The Giants committed six turnovers on three Eli Manning interceptions and three lost fumbles. The miscues were too much to overcome in a game in which the Giants finished with 147 more yards than Dallas.

“(We) just kind of wrapped it up and handed it to them and that was the devastation of it for me,” coach Tom Coughlin said today.

The Giants today began preparing for the rematch, which will be played Sunday evening in MetLife Stadium. The 4-6 Giants are a game behind the second-place, 5-5 Cowboys in the NFC East and can’t afford another division loss. With the stakes so high and the disappointment of the opener so easily recalled, it’s no surprise turnovers were a hot topic of discussion today at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

“Obviously they made some plays,” said Manning, who also threw a season-high four touchdown passes in the game. “But I felt we had a great opportunity to win that game even at the end. We’re down six points or so there at the end, driving around midfield, and I feel like we were going to go score. We’d been driving the ball well the second half. So I thought if we just played smarter and don’t turn the ball over six times, we would have great chance to win that one.”

>> LATEST GIANTS INJURY REPORT

The game was a turnover nightmare for the Giants. They gave away the ball on each of their first three possessions – Manning was intercepted by DeMarcus Ware on his first pass of the season, David Wilson then fumbled and Will Allen picked off Manning. The Cowboys scored only three points off those miscues.

The Giants weren’t so fortunate in the third quarter. On their first offensive series, Wilson lost another fumble that was returned 27 yards for a touchdown by Barry Church. Wilson was replaced for the remainder of the game by Da’Rel Scott.

Later in the quarter, a punt by Dallas’ Chris Jones inadvertently touched Trumaine McBride and was recovered by the Cowboys. Two plays later, Jason Witten caught his second touchdown pass to increase the home team’s lead to 27-10.

The Giants kept fighting and trailed 30-24 at the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. But on the next play, Manning’s pass for Scott was intercepted by Brandon Carr, who ran it back 49 yards for the clinching touchdown.

This week, the Giants’ backfield will have a much different look than it did 2½ months ago. Wilson (injured reserve) and Scott (released) are no longer on the 53-man roster. Andre Brown (who was on I.R.) and Brandon Jacobs (signed two days after the opener) are expected to get the bulk of the work.

“I think we’re a completely different team from that first game,” said wide receiver Victor Cruz, who caught three touchdown passes in Dallas. “I think we understand how to take care of the ball. I think we understand how to maintain our focus offensively and defensively and maintain ourselves and be able to focus in on our game plan and do what we have to do to win.”

“We’re not going to turn the ball over six times,” Jacobs said. “We’re going to play smart, we’re going to take every opportunity that’s given to us.”

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The Giants must be particularly cognizant of taking care of the ball this week, because few teams are better than the Cowboys at taking it away. Dallas’ 22 takeaways (12 interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries) are tied for the league’s fourth-highest total.

“They do a great job on defense and (they’re) causing a lot of fumbles,” Manning said. “Their secondary, their safeties, all do a great job going after the ball. They do a good job breaking on the ball and catching tipped balls and getting pressure on the quarterback, making you throw it a little bit before you might be ready. So they do a good job on defense running to the ball, being aggressive and making some plays.”

The Cowboys’ plus-11 turnover differential is tied with Seattle for second. The Giants are tied for 29th at minus-11.

“That’s the focus for them,” Coughlin said. “They’ve done an outstanding job of that, taking the ball away from people - as unfortunately we’re aware.”

“Just watching film, those guys fly around pretty hard and they try to make plays,” said Jacobs. “They’re good strippers, they try to get the ball out on you while you’re on your way down. You just have to be smart. Turnovers could beat you if you let them get them.”

The Giants let turnovers beat them in the season opener. They can’t afford to let it happen again on Sunday.