ARLINGTON, Texas – The Giants have arrived at the point in their season where losing becomes a heavy burden to carry each week.
The locker room was understandably quiet after their latest loss, 49-17 to the Dallas Cowboys Sunday in AT&T Stadium. The Giants have lost three straight games, seven of their last eight, and are 2-8.
"I think it is difficult to not get discouraged," linebacker Bobby Okereke said. "But that's where leadership can show up and do whatever we can to stay encouraged, not discouraged. Obviously, nobody likes this result. It's tough. It's embarrassing, but no one's coming to save us and the only thing that we can do is control what we control, which is our attitude and effort in practice and just doing everything we can to help turn the ship."
"Everyone's trying to figure out what to do to help right the ship and we got our asses kicked tonight, so there should be some pissed off people," offensive lineman Justin Pugh said. "You get embarrassed on national TV or whatever it is, it's not a good feeling."
Nothing about the game was. Dallas jumped out to a 28-0 halftime lead. Dak Prescott threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another. The Cowboys' 32 first downs were twice as many as the Giants had, and Dallas held the visitors without a successful third-down conversion on 12 tries. The Cowboys had more points at halftime (28) than the scoreless Giants had total yards (27). For the game, they outgained the Giants, 640-172, including 472-61 through the air.
"Not the results we wanted," coach Brian Daboll said. "I thought we fought in the second half, but obviously a lot to work on, a lot to be better at. So, give credit to Dallas. They played one heck of a game."
"It's definitely tough right now," running back Saquon Barkley said. "Losing like that, get embarrassed week after week, but you've got to be a man about it. Obviously, you can be in your feelings for only a short, short time, but you've got to get ready for next week. That's the NFL."
Next week, the Giants will be in Washington to face the Commanders, one of the two teams they have defeated this season.
The Giants played without their top two quarterbacks, Daniel Jones and Tyrod Tyler, who are on injured reserve with knee and rib injuries, respectively. That put the offense in the inexperienced hands of rookie free agent quarterback Tommy DeVito, who spent much of his first NFL start seeking escape routes against the Cowboys' persistent pressure. DeVito absorbed five sacks and seven hits. He did manage to throw two touchdown passes – one to Sterling Shepard with six seconds remaining in the game – while completing 14 of 27 passes.
"I thought he did some good stuff," Daboll said. "Things to work on, that's why we competed all the way to the end, to give him as many different situations as he can get."
Eleven of the Giants' 13 possessions traveled 17 yards or less. The other two ended in DeVito touchdown passes.
"It's tough," DeVito said. "You put a lot into the week. You put a lot into the preparation – practices, meetings. Obviously, this is not the outcome we wanted. Something has got to change. We've just got to be better."
But how? Andrew Thomas, who missed seven games with a hamstring injury, left the game in the first quarter with a knee issue. He did return in the second quarter and played with a knee brace. Two promising young players, edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, left the game with concussions. Defensive backs Deonte Banks (ankle) and Cor'Dale Flott (shoulder) did not play in the second half.
Back to DeVito. His first two offensive series began at the Giants' one- and six-yard lines. Both possessions ended with Jamie Gillan punting out of the end zone.
"I don't feel sorry for myself," DeVito said. "You get put in any situation; you've got to get out of it. We've just got to get more first downs."
After Gillan's second punt, the Cowboys drove just 46 yards to the game's first score, a 14-yard end-around run by Lamb. Dallas scored touchdowns on all three of their second-quarter possessions – on Prescott passes of one yard to tight end Jake Ferguson and 10 yards to Brandin Cooks, and Prescott's 10-yard scramble with 16 seconds remaining, which sent the Giants into their locker room down 28-0.
"I take responsibility first," said Okereke, the team's middle linebacker and defensive captain. "I'm not playing well enough to help this team win. I'm not making my plays to help this team win. I've got to go back to the drawing board this week and do what I can to help spark this team a little bit."
The Giants got on the board in the third quarter on DeVito's 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Lawrence Cager. Dallas needed just 3:37 to march 86 yards and extend the lead to 35-7 on Prescott's 41-yard touchdown pass to Michael Gallup. Two plays later, DeVito's pass for Hyatt was picked off by DaRon Bland, setting up a 12-yard scoring pass to Lamb and a 42-7 advantage.
Randy Bullock's first Giants field goal, a 40-yarder, and Shepard's late touchdown accounted for the final points.
After the game, Daboll and several players were peppered with questions about sideline conversations that at times to some observers seemed out of the ordinary: Daboll and Barkley, Daboll and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, wide receivers Shepard and Darius Slayton.
"Normal stuff during a game," Daboll called it. "Slayton and Shep, they weren't getting into it. Little stuff during the game. Not a big deal. I've talked to all those guys. Not the results we want but get back to work. Everybody's pros. Everybody's pros. Obviously, not the results we want, not the record we want, but everybody's a pro and we get back to work and do everything we can do to be better."
"That's football," Barkley said. "I mean, like that happens every week on every team. You have guys who are fired up or competitors and especially when things aren't going your way. That probably happens once a week, especially in a game where you're losing. I don't really think that necessarily means the team is blowing up or this and that. That's football, that's going to happen this week, it probably will happen again. Even if we we're 7-2, there's times last year where we'll have that stuff coming up, but it just wasn't a way they can write a story about it. Now they can because we're not doing too well."
The concern in the locker room is not about squabbling but improving.
"It's okay to be frustrated, it's okay to be upset," Barkley said. "You leave that at home. I'll definitely go home, talk to my family, let my frustrations out, but try my best not to show it and let you guys, you know, get a story out of it, to be honest. That's my mindset. That's how I try to handle it. It's tough but put your hat on and keep coming to work and keep grinding."
"I feel like we have a strong-minded group, and you know that's what it's going to take," Shepard said. "We're going to see who really has a strong mind, especially with how the season has been going thus far. These are the times where you really see who's got the mental toughness."
For the 2-8 Giants, this is certainly one of those times.
View photos from the Giants' Week 10 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.