Giants.com's John Schmeelk breaks down tape of the 23-16 loss to Dallas on Monday night:
1. The Giants struggled in protection for much of the game, but it wasn't from a lack of effort from the offensive staff to help mitigate the Cowboys' pass rush. Thirteen of the Giants' first 20 pass plays were play-action passes, RPOs, screens or a designed quarterback draw out of a pass set.
Here is one of the more creative RPOs the Giants ran, giving Daniel Jones three options on one play: a hand off to Barkley, keep it himself and run, or dump it to Daniel Bellinger. With Trevon Diggs committing from his wide cornerback spot, Bellinger was open for one of the Giants' two pass plays of 20 yards or more.
Play 1 – Daniel Jones' option
The Giants also used tight ends and running back to help in protection throughout the game, as well as tempo to try to tire the Cowboys' rushers. Despite all those efforts, the Giants allowed a league-high 51.8% pressure rate in Week 3. The Cowboys finished the game with five sacks, 12 official quarterback hits, and Pro Football Focus tracked them with 39 pressures.
According to Pro Football Focus, Andrew Thomas played well and allowed only two hurries in the game, but Evan Neal, Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano each allowed at least four pressures. Neal had some issues in 1-on-1 blocks against DeMarcus Lawrence and PFF tracked him allowing three sacks. The Cowboys used stunts and twists a league-high 52.7% of their pass rush snaps, according to PFF. They only blitzed 35% of the time, which was the 25th-highest rate in the NFL.
The Giants limited Micah Parsons' production. He had two official quarterback hits in the game, and PFF had him causing six pressures. The Giants used a variety of double- and triple-teams throughout the game to slow him down.
2. Saquon Barkley finished the game with 81 rushing yards on 14 carries. 36 of those yards came on the Giants' lone touchdown. Mark Glowinski create the hole at the point of attack, with Ben Bredeson and Jon Feliciano sealing the backside to allow Barkley's cutback. Then, Barkley showed why he is special when he makes two Cowboys miss in the hole on a jump cut to create the touchdown.
Play 2 – Barkley TD run
Barkley accounted for 45 rushing yards on his other 13 carries, which is just under 3.5 yards per carry. On this 9-yard run in the second quarter, Barkley not only gets blocks from his offensive linemen, he also gets help from Sterling Shepard, who comes down to pick up a key block on a defensive back, and Daniel Bellinger, who seals the edge.
Play 3 – Barkley 9-yard run
Barkley had only one run that went for zero or negative yards.
3. Despite what looks like pedestrian passing stats, Daniel Jones played a strong game. In addition to all the pressure form the Cowboys' pass rush, PFF also tracked his receivers with five drops. Jones still managed to lead the Giants on four scoring drives, and a fifth that ended in a blocked field goal. The Giants had three drives of 50+ yards and two more of 40+ yards.
Once Jones realized the Cowboys were getting into the backfield often on pass plays, he was much more eager to run. Jones finished with 79 rushing yards, including two designed quarterback draws to take advantage of the gaps created by the twisting defense. On the Giants' two scoring drives in the third quarter, Jones ran it three times for 44 yards.
Jones also made some good throws in the game, including this perfectly placed pass to Richie James on the move in the fourth quarter.
Play 4 – Richie James catch
4. The Giants' defense struggled to stop the run, forcing only two runs that went for zero or no yards. Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott ran 28 times for 178 yards and a touchdown. Dallas had two runs of 25 yards or more. Leonard Williams' presence was sorely missed as PFF tracked Elliott and Pollard as forcing five missed tackles each and gaining 117 yards after contact. Dexter Lawrence played 81% of the defensive snaps. Three of the Giants' four leading tacklers were Julian Love, Adoree' Jackson and Xavier McKinney.
The Cowboys' ability to run the ball got them into seven third downs of four yards or less, converting four of them. The Cowboys also converted a 4th-and-4. On third downs of 7+ yards, the Cowboys converted only one of six attempts - Elliott's 27-yard run on 3rd-and-12, when Dallas caught the Giants in an interior blitz with a smaller lineup.
5. The Giants' pass rush did not sack Cooper Rush and they only had two quarterback hits (Dexter Lawrence and Oshane Ximines). PFF tracked the Giants with seven pressures. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Henry Mondeaux, Oshane Ximines, Julian Love and Micah McFadden each had a hurry, according to PFF.
Coming off their injuries, Kayvon Thibodeaux played 37 of the team's 64 defensive snaps, while Ojulari had 30 and forced a holding penalty on one of his pass rushes.
Without a consistent pass rush, the Cowboys were able to complete two passes of 20+ yards, and six passes of 15+ yards. Only one of those passes traveled 20 or more yards in the air. Of note, Ceedee Lamb dropped a deep cross that could have turned into a long touchdown.
* It is no coincidence the Giants' lone touchdown came on a drive where the offense not only had its longest play (Barkley's 36-yard TD run), but also two 14-yard plays on a Jones scramble and a pass to David Sills. The Giants had three plays go for 20+ yards, but none came on passes that traveled 20 or more in the air.
* The Giants did not rotate at left guard on Monday night, playing Ben Bredeson all 72 snaps.
* Sterling Shepard led the team with 58 receiver snaps as we await word on the injury. Richie James had the second most with 53, while David Sills came in with 45. Kenny Golladay played 24.
* Micah McFadden played 30 snaps, while Austin Calitro was on the field for 13 snaps at inside linebacker.
* Adoree' Jackson played all but two of the Giants' defensive snaps, while Darnay Holmes (35 snaps), Cordale Flott (19), and Fabian Moureau (39) split the other cornerback reps. After being a big part of the game plan in Week 2, Dane Belton played only 11 snaps as the team's third safety.
View photos from the Giants' Week 3 game against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.