Injury Bug Hits Giants Hard

IRVING, Tex. – As if losing their season opener wasn't bad enough, Big Blue also lost three of its most important players in the process.

The most serious of the injured trio appears to be running back Brandon Jacobs, who sprained the MCL in his right knee and could miss 2-3 weeks. Less was known about the injury to Osi Umenyiora, who injured his knee early on and didn't return.

Finally, Eli Manning suffered what was called a bruised right shoulder in the fourth quarter and pulled himself from the game once Dallas took its final 10-point lead.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he wouldn't know for sure the severity of any of the injuries until his players were examined.

"I don't anticipate missing any time," Manning said.

Jacobs only got six carries for 26 yards before exiting. Umenyiora failed to make a tackle before departing. However, Manning played a superb game before he was forced to the sideline.

"He played very, very well, threw the ball very well, very composed, knew exactly what he wanted to do and what he was doing," Coughlin said.

"He's a great quarterback," Jeremy Shockey said. "I know a lot of people give him a hard time. He's definitely a great player."

Manning was able to fire three touchdown passes before he was injured when the Giants went for two points after they had closed Dallas' lead to 10 points. He was clearly in some pain on the sideline but returned abruptly following a Gibril Wilson interception quickly gave New York the ball back and rifled another scoring strike to Plaxico Burress. Manning had intended to come back had the defense stopped Dallas and left New York only three points behind, but once the Cowboys extended their lead back to 10 with only 3:03 to play, Manning gave way to Jared Lorenzen.

"When they got the final touchdown, it was a situation where I didn't want to make anything worse," Manning said.

New York also lost CB Kevin Dockery to an ankle injury in the fourth quarter.

Unhappy return

Michael Strahan said he expected to play a full game. Coughlin said Strahan received more snaps than planned, mostly due to Umenyiora's injury. Strahan posted five tackles against Dallas, playing a game only five days after his first practice of the season.

"I felt fine, I felt great actually," Strahan said. "I'm looking forward to next week."

But it was obvious that certain aspects of Strahan's Pro Bowl level game were not yet up to par.

"I had a lot of rust and a lot of things I have to shake off," he said.

Strahan said he felt sorry for Manning and his offensive teammates since the Giants defense was, well, offensive themselves.

"Eli played well," Strahan said. "I told him that after the game. We have to give him more help on our side of the ball."

Strahan said everyone needs to look in the mirror before the defense will improve.

"If you make excuses, you're setting yourself to lose on down the road," he said. "So, we're not going to make any excuses. We got beat. That's the bottom line."

Where's the D?

So, why was it exactly that the Giants couldn't stop Dallas to save their lives opening night? Tom Coughlin wishes he knew.

"Obviously we didn't play too well on defense, too many big plays, especially with those crossing patterns," he said. "We couldn't stop them. Neither team did much to stop the other."

"We just have to get better," MLB Antonio Pierce said. "We've got a lot of work to do."

For as bad as the Sam Madison-less secondary played, Coughlin also pointed the blame at the guys up front.

"We didn't get the pressure on the quarterback that we thought we were going to get," he said. "When you do rely on that type of defense, you certainly do have to get to the quarterback and we didn't get to him, but that doesn't take away from the coverage aspect of it either."

All in all, it was a great opportunity to start the season off on the right foot that was lost down the drain.

"We certainly had enough points to win a game, but unfortunately we didn't get it," Coughlin said.

Big edge in Big D: Dallas now leads the regular season series, 53-35-2, including a 24-11 edge in Texas Stadium. Last year, they split their season series with each team winning on the road. The Giants prevailed in Dallas, 36-22, while the Cowboys took a 23-20 decision in Giants Stadium. It was the first time since 1974 that the visiting team won both games in the series.

For openers: The Giants are now 46-32-5 on opening day. Last season they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts, 26-21, in Giants Stadium. Coughlin dropped to 7-5 in opening day games, including 1-3 as the head coach of the Giants.

This served as the eighth time the Giants have opened the season with a division road game since the NFC East was formed in 1970. New York is now 3-5 in those games.

Sunday night blues: The Giants are 10-14-1 when they play on Sunday night. They have a 6-7-1 record on the road in Sunday night contests. The Giants are scheduled to play two more Sunday night games, Sept. 30 vs. Philadelphia and Dec. 16 vs. Washington.

Good omen: The last time the Giants opened the season at Dallas was in 1986, when they lost, 31-28. The Giants went on to win Super Bowl XXI that season.

Joseph shelved: William Joseph, fresh off the best training camp of his career, was a healthy scratch against the Cowboys. The Giants opted to dress Adrian Awasom and Manny Wright instead of Joseph. Injured Giants that missed the contest were FB Robert Douglas, LB Gerris Wilkinson and WR David Tyree. New York's other healthy inactives were S Craig Dahl, OL Adam Koets, and G Kevin Boothe. Anthony Wright was the club's third QB.

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