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Undermanned New York Giants come apart in 28-20 loss to Dallas Cowboys

Jason Leach

It was going to take a miraculous effort for the New York Giants to pull off the upset and defeat their archrival Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

Big Blue was without their top two corners Adoree’ Jackson and Fabian Moreau, and had four offensive linemen inactive for the game (Evan Neal, Shane Lemieux, Jon Feliciano, and Josh Ezeudo).

Despite all of the injuries, New York was the better team for the first 30 minutes thanks to intercepting Dak Prescott twice and Darius Slayton’s leaping catch at the Cowboys’ one-yard line to set up a Saquon Barkley touchdown.

With the Giants taking a 13-7 halftime lead and having a reputation of being a second-half team, there were reasons to be optimistic that the Giants would get their first victory in Dallas since 2016.

But the Cowboys would grab the momentum of the game on the first possession of the second half and wouldn’t relinquish it. They would go on a 14-play 75-yard drive culminating in a Prescott 15-yard touchdown pass to Dalton Schultz to go up 14-13.

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Daniel Jones-Saquon Barkley failed connection changes game

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Then on the Giants’ first possession of the second half, the biggest play of the game occurred.

With New York facing a 4th-and-1 from their own 45-yard line, Daniel Jones attempted to connect on a pass to Barkley outside the right hash. But the pass was thrown behind Barkley, and he was unable to come up with it as New York turned the ball over on downs.

The Giants’ 4th down gamble backfired quickly as it would take Dallas just six plays to extend their lead to 21-13 as Prescott connected with Schultz again, this time from six yards out.

After New York punted on their next possession, the Cowboys would score a touchdown on their third consecutive possession of the half. This time they needed 10 plays to go 80 yards as tight end Peyton Hendershot scored on a two-yard run to put Dallas up 28-13 with just 8:53 remaining in the game.

With the Cowboys’ defensive front seven and, in particular, Micah Parsons, who had two sacks, getting the better of the Giants’ offensive line, it seemed that New York would go scoreless in the second half.

But the Giants managed to score on a Jones one-yard touchdown pass to Richie James with eight seconds remaining in the game to cut the deficit to eight points. Their slim chance of victory ended when CeeDee Lamb recovered the onside kickoff.

Related: 6 winners and losers from Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving win over New York Giants

New York Giants concerns rear their ugly head

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

You have to give Brian Daboll and his team credit for the way they responded in the first half after their debacle on Sunday against the Lions when they lost 31-18.

However, several areas of concern reared their ugly head on Thursday, and they could plague New York for their final six games of the season.

The first issue is, who is going to provide the offensive spark when Saquon Barkley is contained? For the second week in a row, Barkley was held in check as he gained just 39 yards on the ground on 11 carries.

With the exception of Slayton’s 44-yard reception in the second quarter, New York’s offense was unable to create any explosive plays. Receivers were unable to create separation, and Daniel Jones couldn’t generate any offense with his legs as he gained just 14 yards on three attempts.

New York would be outgained by Dallas 430 to 300, and 64 of those yards came on their final drive when the game was essentially over.

Unless Odell Beckham Jr decides to sign with the team that drafted him, scoring points and generating big plays is going to be an issue for the remainder of the season.

Related: Dallas Cowboys reportedly will meet with Odell Beckham Jr. on Dec. 5

In the next three weeks, the Giants play Washington twice and the Eagles once. Washington has the 12th-ranked defense in the league, and Philly is ranked seventh. If Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka can’t find a way to create explosive plays, the Giants could find themselves in last place.

Another issue is one that has been a problem for the team for the past several years — their rash of injuries, especially to the offensive line in the secondary. New York’s cornerbacks had trouble all game trying to cover CeeDee Lamb as he finished the game with six receptions for 106 yards and drew a few pass-interference penalties. Big Blue was already down their top two corners, and then Cordale Flott left the game with a concussion.  

Injuries have left the offensive line in shambles as they’ve been relegated to starting players that would probably be practice squad players on other teams. This is one of the reasons why Jones and Barkley haven’t looked like themselves in the last two games.

New York is hopeful that Evan Neal can be back for their next game on December 4th against Washington, but it’s not a guarantee that the seventh overall pick will be ready.

You hear the term “next man up” often when it comes to a team dealing with injuries. But when player after player goes down, it becomes just coaches talk. Players win games, and you need your best players on the field. If the injuries continue to mount, New York will miss the playoffs, which seemed unfathomable just a week ago when they were 7-2.

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