Watching The Game Film: X's and O's

Here's a final look back at how New York fared in Dallas…

QUARTERBACKS

Eli Manning threw a pass perfectly over the head of SS Roy Williams and into Plaxico Burress' arms for a 10-yard touchdown that helped pull the Giants within three (38-35) with just 4:09 to play. Manning fired an accurate strike into heavy traffic late in the second quarter, too, one Burress caught for a 4-yard score that helped get the Giants within four points (17-13) just prior to halftime. Bottom Line: Manning played like a No. 1 overall pick prior to hurting his throwing shoulder.

RUNNING BACKS

Brandon Jacobs didn't allow initial contact by LDE Marcus Spears to stop him at the line of scrimmage, and turned what would've been a small loss of yardage into a 6-yard gain early in the second quarter. After accounting for a touchdown and no first downs on his first nine touches, RB Derrick Ward, Jacobs' replacement, recorded two first downs on a drive that ended in a touchdown, a 9-yard catch by Ward that brought them within 10 points (38-28) with just 7:20 to play in the game. Bottom Line: Ward showed some promise, just in case Jacobs is out a while with his knee injury.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

TE Jeremy Shockey's second effort gained an extra seven yards, and gained a first down late in the third quarter, when he broke a tackle and dragged two defenders with him. He caught three touchdowns, but WR Plaxico Burress slipped on a third-and-seven play from the Giants' 29 near the midway mark of the second quarter, which allowed CB Jacques Reeves to intercept Manning's pass at the Giants' 41 and return the pick 18 yards. Dallas went ahead 17-6 on TE Jason Witten's 12-yard score six plays later. Bottom Line: A hurting Burress abused Dallas' DBs.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Pulling C Shaun O'Hara sealed off reserve DE Jay Ratliff around right end, creating just enough room at the line of scrimmage for Ward to run for 44 yards on the last play of the third quarter. Ward's long gain moved the Giants to Dallas' 11 and resulted in K Lawrence Tynes' 24-yard FG, a kick that brought the Giants within nine points (31-22) early in the fourth quarter. LG Rich Seubert chipped a rushing Dallas defender just enough to give Manning time to keep his feet set and get everything behind his 60-yard TD toss to Burress on the Giants' first drive. Bottom Line: Manning had time to throw all night and was sacked just once.

DEFENSIVE LINE

None of them did enough in trying to atone for the early loss of RDE Osi Umenyiora. Bottom Line: Michael Strahan was adequate, considering the circumstances.

LINEBACKERS

SLB Mathias Kiwanuka took the wrong angle on QB Tony Romo, allowing him to turn upfield and race untouched for a 9-yard touchdown run that helped place Dallas ahead 31-19 late in the third quarter. Kiwanuka also reacted late to Romo's 12-yard touchdown throw to Witten across the middle, a scoring strike that helped give the Cowboys a 17-6 advantage with 3:59 left before halftime. Bottom Line: Kiwanuka's LB debut wasn't a success.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

SS James Butler, who appeared to be out of position on several other plays, failed to tackle WR Terrell Owens near the Giants' 20, and Owens continued running for a 47-yard touchdown that helped Dallas gain a 38-22 edge with 11:43 left in the game. Owens burned LCB R.W. McQuarters on an inside route that resulted in Owens' 22-yard touchdown, a score that lifted Dallas to a 24-16 lead three minutes into the third quarter. RCB Corey Webster unwisely tried to use his shoulder to knock RB Marion Barber out of bounds at the 9-yard line. Barber remained on his feet and scored an 18-yard touchdown that helped put Dallas in front 10-6 with 9:40 to go before halftime. Bottom Line: Their pass coverage was atrocious.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Reserve FS Michael Johnson showed strength by reaching forward to strip KR Tyson Thompson, whose fumble was recovered by backup RCB Kevin Dockery at Dallas' 26 late in the second quarter. K Lawrence Tynes should've at least followed through and attempted an extra point after P Jeff Feagles mishandled what looked like a decent snap by rookie Jay Alford following the Giants' game-opening score in the first quarter. Bottom Line: Tynes connected on all three of his FG attempts.

COACHING

Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride made a couple peculiar calls inside the red zone, a pass to Amani Toomer in the second quarter and a Ward draw in the fourth, that seemed like literal and figurative wastes of time. Peter Giunta must work with his DBs on tackling technique, which was poor in this game. Bottom Line: They weren't out-coached, they were out-played.

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