EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –**
The Giants have become unwilling experts at enduring disappointing defeats this season, but their loss last night to the Dallas Cowboys broke new ground.
Facing arguably their fiercest rival, a division opponent that had beaten them three games in a row, they had one of their best statistical outings of the season and they took the lead with just three minutes remaining. And still they lost, 31-28, suffering their sixth consecutive defeat.
"I'll go back and reflect later, but for right now, it is definitely the most frustrating," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said today. "It was a divisional game. It was an opponent that we know very well. It was a game that we needed. It was a game we wanted. It was a game we prepared for and worked for. We let it get away. It is very frustrating."
"It's a difficult day, there's no doubt about it," said coach Tom Coughlin, whose team returns to action Sunday in Jacksonville. "As I spoke to our team today, if you didn't know the final score and you looked at some of these numbers, you'd be surprised to know the outcome. Twenty-seven first downs, 69 percent on third down, 74 plays, 35 minutes time of possession – those are actually the goals as you start out playing against the Cowboys because of their nature of running the football, they keep the ball away from the opposition and rest their defense.
"I don't question for one minute the preparation nor the effort on the field last night. I thought our players were really focused, they wanted it badly. Divisional, we had talked about not having played well on the big screen and there it was, Sunday Night Football in the division and we were very excited about that. I'm very disappointed for our fans and all Giants that we weren't able to win the game. So we continue to seek the winning circle."
For a few minutes it appeared the Giants would get there last night. Eli Manning's one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Adrien Robinson gave the Giants a late 28-24 lead. One stop by the defense would have secured the victory. But the Cowboys quickly moved down the field, covering 80 yards in seven plays, the last a game-winning 13-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant with 1:01 left in the game.
"That is about as tough as it gets, especially being out there and feeling personally responsible for the outcome of the game," Kiwanuka said. "That is a tough one to swallow."
The feeling is exacerbated because the most glaring deficiency on the final drive was an inability pressure Romo, who had long seconds to scan the field until a receiver broke free.
"It was a combination (of factors)," Kiwanuka said. "I think the bottom line is I didn't make the play that was there to be made and that is the outcome. You can always go above X's and O's. You can always play through fatigue. They made the plays. We can't take anything away from them. They came in and executed. They played hard and they got the win. I would have liked to have something better on that last play."
So, clearly, would Coughlin, who was asked if he would have preferred more "aggressive" defensive play-calling and/or the insertion into the game of Robert Ayers, who leads the team with 5.0 sacks.
"Those things have been discussed long and hard in the meeting rooms today, and I think that you're right, hindsight is 20/20," Coughlin said. "I can just tell you there were reasons why perhaps Robert wasn't in there. There was sound thinking behind that. I can tell you that there was, if you remember the play in which we jumped (Kiwanuka was penalized five yards for a neutral zone infraction), there was a pressure called there. I, quite frankly, think that we scared ourselves out of that because of the penalty. We know Tony Romo very, very well. When allowed to stand back there and have no pressure on him and wait for people to run and get open, he's made a career out of that. I hear you and, on paper, theoretically I agree with you. We all feel that there should have been more done, more accomplished perhaps even throughout the entire game, but definitely in that last drive. We'd love to be able to do it over."
- Coughlin seemed impressed with Geoff Schwartz, who played in his first regular-season game. Schwartz played the entire game at right tackle for the injured Justin Pugh. Schwartz had been sidelined since Aug. 22 with a dislocated toe.
"He did okay for a guy who has not been involved for as long an amount of time as it's been for Geoff," Coughlin said. "For him to go out and see the fast ball the way it is, not only in the league but in the division, I thought he stood up and did well. He certainly would be a guy that would tell you honestly that there are things that he definitely can improve upon. But for him to go out and do the things he did with as little practice or play time that he's had in the last two-plus months, I thought he did a fine job."
- Adam Snyder, who stepped in at left guard for rookie Weston Richburg, left the game late with a bothersome knee.
"I think Snyder will be fine," Coughlin said. "I don't know if he'll miss a little bit of practice or how we'll do that just yet, but I think he'll be okay, okay to play."
- Coughlin said linebacker Jameel McClain has "a couple of things going on, but it doesn't stop him. At this point in time, I would project that he would be able to practice."
18 photos that tell the story of Sunday's loss to the Cowboys