ReFo: Cowboys @ Giants, Week 12
Ben Stockwell discusses a selection of the top performers from this NFC East matchup and hands out the game ball.
ReFo: Cowboys @ Giants, Week 12
Despite twice holding an 11-point lead, the New York Giants couldn’t cling on to a victory that would have seen them play an early spoiler in the Dallas Cowboys’ playoff push. Tied with Washington for the worst record in the division, the Giants’ season is now about the potential that the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. can play in the remaining month of the season to build for the future.
For the Cowboys this was a victory built around their offense with some worrying cracks re-opening in their coverage that will need to be covered if they aren’t to fall away in the final month. Tripped up once already by one of the NFC East’s basement pair, the Romo-to-Bryant connection (aided by some exemplary pass protection) ensured that wouldn’t happen again.
Dallas Cowboys – Performances of Note
Dez Bryant, WR: +3.0
Breakdown: A scorer for the fourth straight game, Bryant snagged a pair of touchdowns including the game-winner, getting the better of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the Cowboys’ final two plays; first evading a tackle on an 8-yard gain before taking all the time the offensive line gave Romo to shake Rodgers-Cromartie in the end zone for the decisive score
Signature Stat: His pair of touchdowns last night were his first against the Giants since Week 14 of the 2011 season.
Rolando McClain, MLB: +5.6
Breakdown: A revelation for the Cowboys this season, McClain registered 10 stops last night proving once again what a valuable addition he has been to this Dallas defense. Came up with a pair of tackles for loss last night and his eight stops in run defense came on just 25 run D snaps, just shy of one stop for every three snaps.
Signature Play: At 1:20 in the first quarter got around Daniel Fells to get to Andre Williams deep in the backfield on a draw, completing the tackle with Tyrone Crawford for a 4-yard loss.
Tyron Smith, LT: +2.8
Breakdown: A feature of NBC’s presentation of last night’s game was Smith’s back and forth battle with Jason Pierre-Paul and while honors may have been even there Smith did excellent work, especially in the ground game, against the rest of the New York defense. His strong blocking helped DeMarco Murray average 7.4 yards per carry on seven carries off left end and left tackle.
Signature Play: Sprung Murray for an 18 yard gain off left end at Q3 2:27, climbing quickly onto Devon Kennard and sustaining the block on the Giants’ linebacker, finishing it to ground for full effect.
New York Giants – Performances of Note
Odell Beckham Jr., WR: +3.7
Breakdown: Giants fans had to wait for his debut but Beckham has been worth the wait in the last month, both in terms of his pre-game warm up and his performances and production on the field. Taking his season total to four touchdowns against the Cowboys Beckham picked up 90 yards on four catches against Brandon Carr but the Giants struggled to get him involved in the second half.
Signature Play: Wow! Words cannot do his touchdown catch to open the second quarter justice; you could watch that catch on repeat for hours and never tire of it.
Johnathan Hankins, DT: +1.1
Breakdown: One of the Giants’ sparks this season left the game briefly due to injury last night but put in another solid display earning his eighth grade of +1.0 or above in 11 starts. A pair of pressures (1 Ht, 1 Hu) and a pair of stops were paired with solid work at the point of attack aiding others with a measure of control against the Cowboys’ interior offensive line.
Signature Stat: After a dozen weeks sits just outside our five top-graded defensive tackles with a +19.8 overall grade on 471 snaps.
Geoff Schwartz, RT: +2.3
Breakdown: A debut at last for the Giants’ key signing on the offensive line from April. Filling in at right tackle for Justin Pugh, Schwartz quickly found his best form as a run blocker providing a push and a level of control that was lacking to the left side of the line. A couple of bullrush pressures on the Giants’ final drive took a little gloss off of his display in pass protection but this was a fine debut for a player the Giants had hoped would have 10 starts under his belt at guard by now.
Signature Play: Setup the Giants’ longest run of the day at 4:55 in the second to seal Anthony Spencer, spurning the double team help of Daniel Fells, to spring Andre Williams for an 18-yard gain.
PFF Game Ball
Two wide receivers stood out and while Dez Bryant walks away with the victory, Odell Beckham walks away with the PFF game ball for one of the great catches in NFL history.
Follow Ben on Twitter: @PFF_Ben
Ben Stockwell | 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.