The Giants.com crew reacts to Monday night's 23-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys:
John Schmeelk: Giants head coach Brian Daboll's quote will start this off.
"Well, I'd say they controlled the line of scrimmage," Daboll said. "They ran the ball for, what was it, 180 yards? We had no sacks. So, when you can control the line of scrimmage and you're not getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback, you can usually stay in rhythm pretty good."
Pro Football Focus tracked the Cowboys as having 39 pressures on Daniel Jones in this game, including five sacks. The Giants had no sacks and were tracked for only 7 pressures on 31 pass rush snaps. Cooper Rush was comfortable in the pocket for most of the game, completing 21 of 31 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown.
The lack of pass rush also made life difficult on the Giants' secondary, which allowed two passes of 25 or more yards, and six passes of 15+ yards. Those numbers could have been worse if Ceedee Lamb didn't drop a open deep route that likely would have turned into 48-yard touchdown catch.
The Giants 21.8% pressure rate this season is third-lowest in the NFL, according to PFF. The Giants have managed sacks on just over 3% of their opponent's pass attempts, which is the third-lowest rate in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Giants are blitzing more than any other team in the NFL except the Arizona Cardinals.
Despite these numbers the Giants' defense has been solid (16th in yards per game) yet they are only one of three NFL teams without an interception. The Giants have three fumble recoveries and two of those have come on special teams. With the offense still finding its way, the defense needs to make more big plays if the Giants want to consistently win games.
Dan Salomone: Never in high school. Never in college. Never in the NFL … until Monday night.
Because of a knee injury he suffered against Carolina, defensive lineman Leonard Williams was not in uniform for the first time in his football career. Since entering the league as the Jets' first-round draft choice in 2015, he had played in 114 games (106 starts). And the Giants felt his absence as Dallas rushed for 176 yards, 126 of which came in the first half. It wasn't lip service when defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said the Cowboys could have two Pro Bowlers in Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, who divvied up the carries. After facing Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey in their 2-0 start, the Giants could not handle the two-pronged attack on Monday night.
"Well, I'd say they controlled the line of scrimmage," coach Brian Daboll said. "They ran the ball for, what was it, 180 yards? We had no sacks. So, when you can control the line of scrimmage and you're not getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback, you can usually stay in rhythm pretty good."
View photos from the Giants' Week 3 game against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.
Lance Medow: When you consistently participate in close games decided by one possession, the law of averages will more often than not prevail, meaning a few plays each week can easily be put under the microscope and prove to be the deciding factors. In their Week 2 win over the Panthers, all three facets of the team delivered in crunch time. Graham Gano nailed a go-ahead 56-yard field goal, Julian Love recorded a sack to stall Carolina's ensuing drive and Daniel Jones converted a 3rd-and-6 with his legs to seal the win. Unfortunately, a week later, those timely plays were missing for New York but showed up for Dallas.
The Cowboys put together a tie-breaking 11-play, 89-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter in which they faced just one third down and had another converted thanks to an offsides penalty. The inability of the Giants to stop the run and create a consistent pass rush against Cooper Rush came back to bite them, especially down the stretch. Dallas ran for well over 100 yards in the first half, averaged nearly six yards per run over the game and barely had any negative plays on the ground. To make matters worse, after New York went three out, KaVontae Turpin returned a punt 28 yards to the Giants 35, immediately putting Dallas in field goal range. The Cowboys ultimately made it a two-score game with Brett Maher's field goal.
Despite all of that, the Giants still had a chance to orchestrate a game-tying drive with just under two minutes to go but David Sills slipped and Trevon Diggs, who led the NFL in interceptions in 2021, picked off the pass. Between penalties and turnovers, every time it appeared the Giants were in position to make a move, negative pays quickly put an end to that plan. New York was plagued by offensive, defensive and special teams mishap and when that piles up in a highly-contested game, you have very little chance to make up for it.
Matt Citak: Heading into Monday, if someone would have told you the Giants would hold Micah Parsons without a sack, you would probably think that meant it was a pretty solid night for the O-line. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Although he did not pick up a sack, Parsons registered six total pressures according to Pro Football Focus. This came second on the Cowboys behind long-time Giants killer DeMarcus Lawrence, who finished with seven (including three sacks). Lawrence increased his sack total against the Giants to 10 in 14 games, the most sacks the veteran has against any team in his career.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Daniel Jones was pressured 24 times Monday night. This was the most any quarterback has been pressured this season, the second-most in the last two seasons and the most by any Giants quarterback since they began tracking the stat in 2009. Next Gen Stats has Jones getting pressured on a league-high 46.7 percent of his dropbacks this year. He's been sacked 13 times through three weeks, the third-most in the NFL, and on 12.4 percent of the time he attempts a pass, the second-highest percentage in the league. Credit to the Cowboys' defense, as they lead the NFL in sacks (13) and percentage of times sacked when attempting a pass (11.5 percent), and did a great job of shutting down Tom Brady and Joe Burrow in the first two games of the season.
"We were chipping; we were slamming. We were doing a lot of different things. That's a good defensive line, and they got the better of us…" Brian Daboll said after the game. "Look, we didn't play our best. But the guys worked their tails off. They competed until the end. We came up a little short. Give the other team credit. So, we have to get back to work and get ready for Chicago."
If there is one positive to take out of the O-line's performance, it's the continued strong play of Andrew Thomas. The left tackle has made a significant jump in Year 3, and even on a night when the line struggled as a unit, Thomas earned the highest PFF grade on the team with his 79.3 overall mark, including a 78.2 run block grade and 77.4 pass block grade (he allowed just two total pressures on 54 pass block plays).