X's and O's

Here is a breakdown, position by position, of how the Giants performed against the Cowboys.

QUARTERBACKS

Eli Manning thought CB Terence Newman was going to drop back in coverage early in the third quarter, but Newman remained near the line of scrimmage and easily stepped in front of WR Domenik Hixon for an interception at Dallas' 44. Manning slightly overthrew TE Kevin Boss on a third-and-7 play from Dallas' 16, thus the Giants settled for K John Carney's 34-yard FG, with 4:52 to go in the first half. Bottom Line: Manning rarely had time to set his feet and throw.

RUNNING BACKS

RB Derrick Ward was able to overcome a slow start (2 yards, no gain and three yards on his first three carries), but he averaged 4.6 yards per carry. Other than a 7-yard carry, RB Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for only 1 yard on two other carries. Bottom Line: They missed Brandon Jacobs more than the stat sheet indicates.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

A flag wasn't thrown, but FS Ken Hamlin hit WR Amani Toomer in the back before the ball arrived near the sideline, inside Dallas' 10 on a first-and-10 play from Dallas' 29 early in the fourth quarter. WR Steve Smith snuck between Hamlin and CB Orlando Scandrick to catch a 14-yard pass that brought the Giants to Dallas' 19 on a third-and-11 play. Four plays later, Carney kicked a 34-yard FG that cut Dallas' lead to 7-3 at the 4:52 mark of the second quarter. Bottom Line: Manning didn't have much time to get them the ball.

OFFENSIVE LINE

LT David Diehl couldn't recover when faster SLB Greg Ellis took a wide route toward Manning, dropping him for an 8-yard sack that forced the Giants, down 7-3, to punt late in the first half. WLB DeMarcus Ware used great technique to get under RT Kareem McKenzie's right arm, shoved him aside and recorded a 3-yard sack that backed the Giants into a second-and-13 situation just after the midway mark of the second quarter. Bottom Line: Horrible doesn't even begin to describe their overall performance.

DEFENSIVE LINE

RDE Mathias Kiwanuka and LDE Justin Tuck tore through Dallas' offensive line to flatten QB Tony Romo for a safety that cut Dallas' lead to 14-5 at the 7:06 mark of the fourth quarter. Kiwanuka overpowered LT Flozell Adams and closed quickly on Romo to drop him for a 4-yard sack that backed Dallas into a second-and-14 situation early in the second quarter. On third-and-14 from the Giants' 33 late in the first quarter, DT Jay Alford slid underneath the block of RG Leonard Davis to get up the middle and sack Romo for a 7-yard loss. Bottom Line: They sacked Romo four times and pressured him seven times.

LINEBACKERS

MLB Antonio Pierce was late sliding over in coverage, which left FB Deon Anderson wide open in the end zone. Anderson's 1-yard touchdown catch helped lift Dallas to 14-3 lead, with 12:18 left in the game. Two plays earlier, Pierce allowed TE Jason Witten to stiff arm him just inside the Giants' 15 and gain 11 more yards on a 13-yard reception that moved Dallas to the Giants' 1. Bottom Line: They didn't do a whole lot.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

FS Michael Johnson's failure to cleanly tackle Witten allowed Witten to gain a victory-clinching first down on a third-and-9 play from the Giants' 49, with less than three minutes to go. SS James Bulter might've saved a 38-yard touchdown when he tracked down RB Tashard Choice from behind, limiting him to a 23-yard gain early in the fourth quarter. Reserve CB Terrell Thomas' slight hesitation near the Giants' 15 afforded WR Patrick Crayton the separation he needed to catch a 34-yard touchdown in the first quarter, with three Giants' DBs converging on him. Bottom Line: The Crayton mistake was crucial.

SPECIAL TEAMS

P Jeff Feagles dropped three of his seven punts inside the Giants' 20 and one of his punts went for 59 yards. Other than Bradshaw's 30-yard kick return, he, WR Sinorice Moss and CB R.W. McQuarters averaged only 19 yards on four returns. Bottom Line: They need improvement from their punt returner and their kick returners.

COACHING

The coaches couldn't figure out how to help keep either Ellis or Ware out of Manning's face. The possibility, however slight, of taking a Dallas touchdown off the board made losing a timeout on a failed challenge worthwhile in the first quarter. Coughlin contended that Romo was beyond the line of scrimmage when he released his 34-yard touchdown toss to Crayton. Bottom Line: They're looking more ordinary by the week.

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