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Offense identifies key areas to improve

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The Giants offense does some self-scouting heading into Week 14:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Giants offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan today offered a blunt assessment of his unit's recent performance.

"It's been disappointing," Sullivan said. "Everyone wants to know why, why is the offense struggling and why is there no consistency."


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Through their first six games this season, the Giants averaged 364.2 yards a game, which tied them for 13th in the NFL. Six games later, that average is down to 327.4 yards a game, and they've dropped to 26th in the rankings. The Giants gained just 296 and 234 yards in their last two games, a victory in Cleveland and a loss last Sunday in Pittsburgh. Their scoring average has consistently stayed at 19-20 points a game.

"Rather than go through the litany of various reasons and mitigating circumstance, if we had to look at one thing that jumps out, it's ball security," Sullivan said. "Right now we're (26th) in the league, we've got 21 turnovers, and it's hard to get consistency and get those snaps and score points. It's hard to get the run game going, you name it. If you're on the sideline without the ball, you can't do those things. It's things we've addressed. It's been a combination, whether it's the fumbles or the interceptions."

This would be a good week to correct those ills. The Giants will host the 11-1 Dallas Cowboys, winners of 11 straight. Dallas' defense will provide a significant challenge to the Giants' struggling offense. The Cowboys are second in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing just 82.3 yards a game. The Giants per-game average on offense is lower; they're rushing for just 77.3 yards a game, ranking 31st in the league.

And while the Cowboys are a middle-of-the-pack 18th in yards allowed (358.5), they are a more impressive fifth in points given up (19.0 a game).

The Giants did defeat Dallas in the season opener, 20-19, gaining 316 yards, including 113 on the ground.

"The most important thing that we have to do, and certainly this week against this team, we've got to take care of the football," said Sullivan, mindful the Giants' minus-5 turnover differential is tied for 24th in the league. "That's probably the biggest thing when you talked about why we're not where we want to be, that probably jumps out."

Sullivan concurs with coach Ben McAdoo that the offense has the time and capability to improve in the season's final four games – and, the Giants hope, beyond.

"The thing that I think it goes back to, first off, it's cliché but it's true, the past doesn't equal the future," Sullivan said. "Just because we've had inconsistencies, the penalties, the turnovers, that doesn't mean that there's no magic wand or force field power force that's going to make that happen on Sunday night. That future is in front of us and that's where our focus is.

"I think if we can do the things as far as taking care of the football, if we can do the things where we have an explosive play and get a first down then suddenly a penalty negates it, some of those self-inflicted wounds. I know everyone says that and we certainly give the defense credit for things they're doing. I think we have shown those flashes, we have had those runs, if you will, those drives; the first drive in Chicago, the first drive in Cincinnati, when things are in a good groove. I think it's just been those turnovers, negative plays and penalties that have shot ourselves in the foot, so to speak. I think from a confidence standpoint, we really believe that we've had a great preparation, we had a heck of a practice out there today and being in the elements was a lot of fun. We're going to build upon the success we had this week and bring that preparation to Sunday night and we know that the future and everything we want is ahead of us and there's no reason we can't eliminate those things and be the type of offense we want to be."

*This will be the seventh time in their history the Giants will play a regular-season game against a team that has won at least 11 consecutive games. The Giants have been the home team in every game, and will be again on Sunday. They're 1-5 in those games (beating 13-0 Denver in 1998), but each of the four more most recent defeats has been by just three points – the last three by the same score.

GIANTS VS. TEAMS ON SINGLE-SEASON 11+ GAME WINNING STREAK

Date Opponent Streak Result Score
12/10/1972 vs MIA 12 L 23-13
12/13/1998 vs DEN 13 W 20-16
12/18/2004 vs PIT 11 L 33-30
12/29/2007 vs NE 15 L 38-35
12/4/2011 vs GB 11 L 38-35
12/20/2015 vs CAR 13* L 38-35

*Team was undefeated when it faced the Giants.

Note: The Giants defeated New England in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI when the Patriots had 18 and 10-game winning streaks, respectively.

*Two Giants players who practiced yesterday did not work today, but two who sat out yesterday returned on a limited basis today.

Tight end Larry Donnell (illness) and linebacker Mark Herzlich (concussion) were the newcomers to the did-not-practice list. They were joined by two holdovers, safety Nat Berhe (concussion) and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle surgery).

Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (quad) and wide receiver Dwayne Harris (ankle) were limited after missing practice yesterday. Guard Justin Pugh (knee), cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (ribs) and defensive end Owa Odighizuwa (knee) remained limited.

*Defense end DeMarcus Lawrence was added to Dallas' did not practice list with a back injury. He was joined by cornerback Morris Claiborne (groin), tackle Chaz Green (back), and safety J.J. Wilcox (thigh).

Photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Cowboys

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