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Game Recap: Missed opportunities plague Giants in loss to Cowboys

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – As he does after every game, Pat Shurmur began his news conference late Monday night with a review of some of the evening's key factors.

He concluded his opening statement by saying, "All of the things you can't do in a ball game happened and hurt us, and we lost."

That about sums it up. Largely because they were deficient in three critical areas, the Giants lost their fifth consecutive game, 37-18, to the Dallas Cowboys, who defeated them for the sixth straight time.

The Shurmur-specified shortcomings included the following:

"We did not create enough room running the football."

Saquon Barkley tied his career low for a full game with 28 rushing yards on 14 carries. No other running back had a rushing attempt, though wide receiver Golden Tate and tight end Evan Engram did. The Giants rushed for 100 yards as a team largely because quarterback Daniel Jones ran for 54 yards.

"They are a team that runs a lot of games up front," Barkley said of the Cowboys, who held him to 28 yards in his second career game on Sept. 16, 2018. "They try to slant to create penetration, they were doing a good job of that. Everyone knows inside zone loves to come back in the back side and plant a back door cut. Sometimes, I could have gone a little more vertical and gone downhill, but I have to go back and watch film and see how I can get better."

"We weren't very good in the red zone."

The Giants made five trips inside Dallas' 20-yard line. They scored just one touchdown, on Jones' one-yard throw to Cody Latimer in the second quarter. That was their only six-pointer. Aldrick Rosas, who missed the extra point after Latimer's touchdown, accounted for the rest of their scoring with field goals of 21, 25, 26 and 29 yards, the short distances further proof of the Giants' struggle to reach the end zone from in close.

"Scoring in the red zone was huge tonight," Jones said. "We didn't score touchdowns in a lot of those situations."

"I think the turnovers hurt us."

They certainly didn't help. Jones threw an interception and lost two fumbles, miscues that led to 13 Dallas points.

The pick was a key play in the sequence that saw Dallas score 10 points in the final 52 seconds of the second quarter to turn a 12-3 deficit into a 13-12 halftime lead (made possible, as Shumur pointed out, by Rosas' missed PAT).

It began with tight end Blake Jarwin turning a short Dak Prescott pass into a 42-yard touchdown that made it 12-10. The Giants took possession at their own 26-yard line with 48 seconds remaining. Shurmur chose to try to put more points on the board, but Jones' deep third-down pass to Darius Slayton was intercepted by safety Xavier Woods, giving the Cowboys the ball at the Giants' 39. Prescott's five-yard pass to Jason Witten set up Brett Maher's 52-yard field goal as time expired.

"We threw a pass, dropped it, and then we had another one that was sort of deflected off-target," Shurmur said of the Giants' last possession of the first half. "I think on the third one there, (Darius) Slayton, the ball was designed to go to Slayton against the specific coverage. You just have to look for the ball there, break it up in that case. So, you don't want that—right? The flip side of it is you just take a knee and go into the locker room, but we wanted to give our guys a chance. But we can't have the bad things happen."

In the third quarter, Jones scrambled six yards for a first down, but lost a fumble that was forced by Woods and recovered by former Giant Darian Thompson. That led to Maher's 28-yard field goal and a 16-12 Cowboys advantage.

Rosas lifted the Giants back within a point with just 27 seconds left in the quarter before the Cowboys went on a 21-3 surge in the final 15 minutes.

It began with Prescott's 15-yard touchdown pass to Michael Gallup. Rosas provided a brief interruption with his final field goal, but Amari Cooper scored on a 45-yard pass to extend the Cowboys' lead to 30-18 with 7:56 remaining. After an exchange of punts, the Giants tried for one last rally. They ran 15 plays before Jones was sacked for an eight-yard loss by Dorance Armstrong and lost the ball, which bounced around before it was scooped up by Jourdan Lewis, who took off and reached the end zone with only six seconds remaining.

"They have a good pass rush and some guys up there who can do that," Jones said. "Credit to them, but I have to do a better job of getting the ball out and making sure we're where we need to go up front and protections."

The defense also had issues. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 139 yards on 23 carries, a healthy 6.0-yard average. Prescott completed 22 of 35 passes for 257 yards and those three touchdowns, giving him seven scoring passes in two games vs. the Giants this season. As often happens, the Giants had trouble covering Jason Witten, who led Dallas with eight receptions (for 58 yards).

"I'm disappointed we didn't do enough things to win the game," Shurmur said. "That's where I'm at. I'm disappointed we didn't win. I think everyone in the locker room is that way. That's where it's at."

The Giants will try to end their losing streak on Sunday, when they face the Jets as the visiting team.

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