Now came the gut check.
Because despite all the optimism that surrounded Brian Daboll’s Giants for the first three months of the season, and rightfully so, given the best start for the franchise since 2008, they took the field inside AT&T Stadium for their clash on Thanksgiving against the Dallas Cowboys overwhelmed by a bunch of uncertainty.
Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. A short week of preparation off an emotional downer in their worst performance yet.
And the challenge of facing a Dallas team that was coming off its best showing in a while after putting 40 points on the 8-win Vikings on the road in a blowout victory.
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So what did that mean for the Giants? It was going to be a tall task to pick up a triumph on Turkey Day, but an opportunity to prove their mettle. They did so for a half, taking a 13-7 lead into the break before failing to hold the Cowboys down. They also lacked the firepower yet again on offense to keep up with Dallas, and a pair of Dak Prescott-to-Dalton Schultz touchdown connections proved too much to overtime in Thursday’s 28-20 loss.
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Daniel Jones threw a touchdown pass in the waning moments to Richie James to cap the scoring.
The Giants (7-4) needed a better showing in this spot than the one they had at home on Sunday against the Lions. They were shorthanded, especially at cornerback without their starting tandem of Adoree’ Jackson and Fabian Moreau, leaving rookie Cor’Dale Flott, Rodarius Williams and Nick McCloud to step in.
The Giants have now lost 10 of their last 11 games to the Cowboys, including a regular season sweep this season.
While Dallas is keeping the head on first-place Philadelphia in the NFC East, the Giants are now faced with the challenge of fighting off Washington, whom they play in two of the next three games, in order to legitimately keep their playoff chances alive.
The Giants needed to compete, and there was urgency to show they can scheme up some things that caught the Cowboys off guard. In the end, the Giants’ only chance was to cause turnovers and get their best players – Saquon Barkley, Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams – to make game-changing plays, which they have done in key spots earlier this season.
The Giants caused turnovers, but only scored three points off them. Barkley was held to 39 yards on 11 carries, his second consecutive subpar performance that calls into question what defenses are doing to slow down the Giants’ best offensive player, and why they are having difficulty getting Barkley going.
Jones is now 1-5 as a starter against the Cowboys, including four losses in games started by Dak Prescott. Prescott, meanwhile, is 10-2 in his career against the Giants, including 10 straight starts after losing twice in his rookie season.
The biggest offensive play in the second half happened on a fourth-and-1 near midfield when the Giants went for it. Jones was under pressure and misfired on a throw to a wide open Barkley, who bobbled the catch and failed to complete the play as the Giants turned the ball over on downs.