EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ– In the wake of a disheartening opening night defeat, the Giants players today received a morale boost from one of the franchise's great players. Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan visited the Quest Diagnostics Training Center just hours after the team's 27-26 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
"We have to stay positive and rally together," defensive tackle and 12-year veteran Cullen Jenkins said. "I know it's tough and I know just for myself this is probably one of the toughest losses that I've had in my career. I found myself, even today, needing a boost. Some of the coaches helped pick my spirits up. Strahan was in the building and he talked to us and that helped a lot. It's things like when we just have to rally together, stay behind each other, and get through this together."
The Giants will return to the field Sunday when they face the Atlanta Falcons in their MetLife Stadium opener.**>> POSITIVES EMERGE FROM TOUGH LOSS**
"The guys are disappointed, the guys are upset, because we were so close and had a great opportunity to win the game and we didn't do it," quarterback Eli Manning said. "It hurts, but it's supposed to hurt when you play your tails off and you work hard and you do a lot of good things and don't come out on top, it hurts. We've just got to stick together, we've got to keep fighting, we have to have another great week and get ready for Atlanta and go out there Sunday at home, we've got a home game and home crowd, so hopefully have them fired up and ready to go find a way to get a win."
As eager as the players are to move on, it's difficult to let go of a game in which the Giants came so close to victory. They led by 10 points with a little more than five minutes remaining, and surrendered Dallas game-winning points with only seven seconds on the clock.
"Definitely devastated, and I think I've probably been one of the most devastated in the defensive meeting room," Jenkins said. "I had a lot of guys coming to me trying to pick me up and help morale, because it was tough. You go out there and you fight, we fight as hard as we did, and we put ourselves in position, and we just couldn't close it out and finish it. It's a game, it tough, but it's definitely a learning experience for us now and it has to be something that we get some positive from to help us during this long season."
**>> WATCH GIANTS VS. COWBOYS HIGHLIGHTS**
*Although it was pushed to the backburner by the exciting ending, the Giants offense did not play as well as advertised, gaining just 289 yards and scoring a single touchdown.
"We didn't have many possessions to start with (nine before a final one with seven seconds left)," Manning said. "We only had one three-and-out. I thought we had some decent drives going. Once we got in the red zone, we just didn't do a very good job converting on third down. We had some third-and-10s, some third-and-long situations that we didn't convert on, so those are hard. It's usually occasionally you had to do better on first and second downs in those scenarios. I thought they did a good job, they weren't going to let us have very many big plays. They wanted to keep everything in front and for the most part we took that. We were taking our completions and those were the best drives that we had where we just got completions, we were getting six or seven yards, we were getting the ball out quick, getting in third-and-manageables and converting on third down. I thought overall it could've always been better. I think I've got to do a little better job on first and second downs, finding completions, throwing the ball more accurately. But I thought there was definitely some good stuff, but also definitely some room for improvement."
*First-year free agent Uani Unga started at middle linebacker and led the team with 12 tackles (10 solo).
"You know what, he played hard, he was aggressive, he made a lot of tackles," coach Tom Coughlin said. "He certainly got himself out of position a couple of times. But for a guy put in that position, I thought he responded very well."
*Left tackle Ereck Flowers, the team's first-round draft choice, hurt his ankle in the game, but played through the pain.
"He was limited to a certain extent because of the injury, but I thought he battled away, and that's what we always counted on—that he would battle," Coughlin said. "And he did.
"They're doing the usual number of MRI's etc. etc. I don't have any information in front of me about that. He did injure the ankle early on and he gutted it out and finished the game. But today is a different day."
*Flowers and safety Landon Collins, the team's second-round choice, both started and played the entire game.
"I thought that they both played hard, and they both handled the situation very well," Coughlin said. "To be starting and playing in a game in the NFC East division, in Dallas, in their first regular season game - I thought they handled it very well."
*Coughlin did not have updates on wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf) and linebacker Jon Beason (knee). Neither player traveled to Dallas.
Photos from the Giants Week 1 matchup with the Cowboys