Cowboys-Giants grades: No answers at RB for Dallas

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Giants-Cowboys game.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

(AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Cowboys-Giants grades: No answers at RB for Dallas

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Cowboys-Giants game:

Dallas Cowboys

–The Giants may look back on last night’s game and wonder why they never forced Tony Romo (+0.8) to beat them with throws down the field last night. Of his 45 targeted passes last night, Romo aimed the ball more than 10 yards down the field only five times. The game-winning touchdown was symptomatic of that with the Giants unfathomably allowing Romo to hook up with his favorite target, TE Jason Witten, at the front of the endzone rather than forcing a throw into the endzone with the game on the line.

–In the trenches we saw a rematch from the college ranks last season as Dallas’s second-round pick DE Randy Gregory (+2.8) squared off with the Giants’ first-round pick LT Ereck Flowers (-3.2) with Gregory comfortably getting the better of the encounter. Prior to leaving the game due to injury, Gregory had racked up a hit and three hurries on just 15 pass rushes. With Greg Hardy suspended Dallas will hope Gregory can suit up next week and build on his strong debut.

–Ever since the departure of DeMarco Murray, questions have been raised over the strength of the Cowboys’ backfield and last night didn’t offer many positive answers. Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar had solid nights as receivers but neither Randle nor Darren McFadden earned positive grades as runners with McFadden forcing the only missed tackle on a combined 22 carries.

Top performers:

LT Tyron Smith (+4.0)
DE Randy Gregory (+2.8)
FS J.J. Wilcox (+2.5)
RG Zack Martin (+2.4)
RB Lance Dunbar (+1.5)

New York Giants

–While his opposite number dinked and dunked, Eli Manning (0.0) struggled to get on the same page with his receivers down the field going 2 of 9 for 32 yards on passes aimed 10 or more yards. Not helping Manning’s production were the five passes dropped by his receivers, three by WR Preston Parker (-2.6), which is the most passes the Giants receivers have dropped in a single game since Week 10 in 2008.

–The Giants boasted a pair of breakout performers on their defensive line last season and both DT Johnathan Hankins (+1.7) and DE Robert Ayers (+3.1) got off to strong starts against the Cowboys’ ferocious offensive line last night. Ayers led the way with six pressures, mostly against RT Doug Free, as he did his best to help cover for the continuing absence of Jason Pierre-Paul, but he failed to convert any of those pressures into hits or sacks.

–New York’s second-round pick, S Landon Collins (-0.6), had a mixed debut last night with strong play in run defense (+2.3) marred by lax play in coverage (-2.8). Collins’ three stops led the team but he surrendered completions on all five of his targets including losing both Dallas tight ends on a pair of second-half touchdowns.

Top performers:

DE Robert Ayers (+3.1)
C Weston Richburg (+2.7)
CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (+1.8)
DT Johnathan Hankins (+1.7)
S Brandon Meriweather (+1.4)

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • Rob Weil

    Why in God’s name is Preston Parker on this team? It’s not his fault he sucks. Critics will say that Eli Manning needs to make the players around him better but that ain’t happening with this group unless he goes out and catches the passes too! Eli drops it in their hands and these knuckleheads say, “No thanks!”

    I don’t fault Eli for the throw away either. He takes a sack there, people still gonna kill him.

    • Tim Edell

      Taking the sack would of been the smart thing to do. Who cares if the FG woulda went from being a 19 harder to a 30 harder. Its inexcusable that a pass play was called but an experience QB such as Eli should of known to keep the clock running.

    • patrick

      the problem here is ” people will still kill him for it” he lays QB in the NFL what people say is irrelevant to anything hes supposed to make the right play .. players coaches dont give 2 craps what people say and certainly he doesnt care …. if he does care what people will say hes not a very good mentally strong QB other peoples opinions and views are so irrelevant its not even something that crosses QB’s minds and if does you end up like rgiii

  • SteveS

    Maybe some people would kill Eli for taking a sack there, but they’d be killing a 1-0 QB instead of an 0-1 QB

    • mormonrock124

      True, but I don’t know why a play would be called that would require your QB to take an unnecessary hit or have to take a knee. It should’ve been a run play and the QB and coaching staff have already shouldered the blame for it.

    • Brian

      While he of course should’ve taken the sack, I still say he never should have been in said position. Run the ball two more times. Worst case scenario: Dallas is on the 1 with like 30 seconds left, best case Jennings runs it in and game over Giants win. No idea what the coaches were thinking!

    • Ryan

      It wasn’t that bad of a call…if Fells wasn’t getting molested and he’s open for an easy throw then cool. Obviously if it’s not there then run and slide. It’s not like he gonna take them out of field goal range. The call was good, the execution was garbage.

  • mormonrock124

    Also, watching the game I didn’t hear Ayers named mentioned all that much. The Giants got very little pressure on Romo all game and he had a clean pocket to work with on all of his drop backs. Seeing that Ayers didn’t really contribute much to the run game either I am pretty shocked he graded out so well.

  • Brian

    Shameful. That offense was anemic, if ODB is taken out of the game we have absolutely nothing. Parker is garbage (we cut James Jones though!?) Randle is a bust until he proves otherwise, Donnell and Fells are not exactly threatening TEs…

    On top of that, they tell Jennings not to score? But then made that pass call? Didn’t go for it on 4th down anyway? Spags did a decent job of pressuring Romo, but then went safe defense at the end? This was a comedy of stupid calls.

  • BITW44

    Yes coaching and bad decisions cost them this game, but lets be honest: Jerry Reese has not built a competitive football team.