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Cover 3: Takeaways from Giants vs. Cowboys


*Three Giants writers recap the team's 30-10 loss to the Cowboys in Week 14: *

In this week's Cover 3, our writers react to New York Giants' 30-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14.


>Eli returns to starting role in 30-10 loss
>Postgame notes and stats
>Watch Giants vs. Cowboys highlights
>Best photos from Giants vs. Cowboys
>Steve Spagnuolo postgame presser

The Giants once again had trouble scoring points against the Cowboys, and once again it is hard to point the finger at the quarterback. At first look, Eli Manning's numbers look poor. He completed 31 of 46 passes for just 228 yards and two interceptions to just one touchdown. The numbers are deceiving. Manning was very efficient in the first half, completing 14 of 18 passes for 117 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. The Giants only punted twice in the first half.

In the second half, Manning got very little help from his receivers, despite most of his passes being on the money. Roger Lewis Jr., Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram all had passes hit their hands that should have been caught. Some of those were in crucial situations that could have extended Giants drives. It was impossible for Manning to hold the ball for deep throws because Demarcus Lawrence was in the backfield for much of the game (one hit and five hurries, according to Pro Football Focus).

Manning's two interceptions didn't come until late in the game after Dallas took a 23-10 lead with four minutes to play and he had to start taking more chances to have a chance to win. Manning has never cared about his stats, and interceptions like those will look like all the rest when people review his career. But taking chances at that point in the game is the right thing to do even if those throws turn into interceptions.


Even with everything that transpired over the past seven days, the Giants still have more questions than answers. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie put it best after the game: "For it to be like the 13th, 14th week in the season, we should already have a pinpoint on why that is happening and we're still searching for answers."

That sums up the season. How does a team that took a 10-10 tie into the fourth quarter suddenly give up 20 points in the final eight minutes? And DRC was only talking about what happened on the field. In the coming weeks and months, the Giants will start to answer the big-picture questions, beginning with finding their next general manager and head coach.


Two of the biggest issues that have plagued the Giants this season have been preventing big plays on defense and taking advantage of favorable field position on offense. Both of those areas again came to the forefront in Sunday's loss to the Cowboys. After keeping Dallas' offense in check for most of the first half, the Cowboys capitalized on multiple big plays in the second half that ultimately put the game out of reach. Cole Beasley's 54-yard catch-and-run on third-and-two from the Cowboys 26 midway through the fourth quarter set up Dak Prescott's 20-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten, giving the Cowboys a 17-10 lead. And then on the Cowboys' very next possession, facing another third-and-short, Prescott's short pass to Rod Smith turned into an 81-yard touchdown. Thanks to those big plays, Dallas blew things open in the blink of an eye. Throw in the Dez Bryant 50-yard touchdown in the first half after he won a tug of war with Giants corner Brandon Dixon and the Cowboys recorded three pass plays of 50 or more yards. That's the ball game right there. Earlier this season, during a three-game stretch, the Seahawks, Rams and Niners also produced multiple explosive plays.

Given their offensive struggles this season, the Giants have to capitalize on favorable field position. After Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey missed two field goals, the Giants failed to take advantage. The first time was midway through the second quarter when the Giants took over at their own 43. They ran four plays and punted. The second opportunity was midway through the third quarter when the Giants took over at their own 40, but they went three-and-out. When an offense struggles to put together lengthy drives consistently, it must turn favorable field position into points.

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