I was at the game last night and haven't gotten a chance to review it on my DVR yet, but you don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what the problems were last night. First and foremost was the OL. They opened absolutely no creases in the Dallas front 7, got no push when they didn't open holes for the running game and the pass protection of Eli was really poor. There is nothing that makes an offense look worse than a bad OL and this was it last night. The discouraging thing for me was that this does not appear to me to be a one time problem, or a single bad game. Giants won the Super Bowl last year depsite having one of the worst OLs in the game and they did not address it at all in the off season. The only thing they did was shuffle things around a bit - they got rid of the poorly playing RT MacKenzie and replaced him with also-poor-playing Diehl, who had been at LT. They also moved career backup Boothe in as the starting LG and, with unproven Beatty on the bench with an injury, took an 11 year mediocre OL-man and made him the starting LT. Giants were the worst rushing team in football last year and with the the proven talent they had at RB, with both Bradshaw and Jacobs players that had 1,000 yard rushing seasons on their career resume, it is obvious that the fault laid with the OL. Giants have a lot of talent on offense at the skill positions and one of the best QBs in the game but their weak OL undermines this whole offense. The dispiriting thing is that there just does not seem to be that much talent on the OL and this could be a season long problem that will bring down the offense and the whole team. If not bring it down completely, this poor play will certainly curtail its success. With a 1st and goal on the 1 after Boley's INT, the fact that they could not punch it into the end zone says it all about the OL.
The pass protection was very poor even when Manning wasn't actually getting sacked or hit. There never seemed to be a clean, well formed pocket. There were guys coming from every angle and it did not even give Eli an opportunity to manage the rush. He's gotten very good at either stepping up in the pocket to avoid guys coming from behind him or stepping wide around the DEs when pressure comes up the middle. But last night the pressure was more chaotic as DL-men were coming from all over at random angles. I saw a few times that Eli, quite uncharacteristically took his eyes away from the downfield receivers and looked at the rushers, because of this ill-formed pocket. It was collapsing constantly and he was never comfortable in there.
On defense, we thought the Giants DL would dominate the Cowboys questionable OL, especially their interior OL-men. The Giants DL did a decent job against the rush, marred only by one great run by Demarco Murray where he stayed on his feet, avoided a bunch of tackles and made a big play down the sideline. They got some occasional pressure on Romo, a few that Romo managed to escape out of , but for the most part, the Cowboys OL did a good job in pass protection and gave Romo time to find his receivers. Cowboys OL moved the ball very well once they found the rhythm of the game. In their first 4 possessions, they had 2 punts, 1 INT and 1 time where they turned it over on downs. However, their next 5 possessions were all dominant: TD, TD, FG, TD and a first down to close out the game with 2 minutes left and Giants out of TOs. Giants defense was dominated and could not get off the field from the end of the first half through the end of the game.
With Thomas done for the season, with Amukamara out for the game, when Coe went down with a hamstring injury, Giants were using Tryon, who is essentially the 5th best CB on the team, behind Webster and Hosley on the depth chart in addition to the others mentioned above. With decent pass protection and a few escapes when the Giants did get a rush, Romo was able to pick on him for some important completions but also torched Corey Webster who was beaten deep twice for big plays. You've got to have good CB play on defense - you can't get a big pass rush on every play and sometimes I think Giants rely too much on the idea that their pass rush will get to the QB. Dominant DE play and pass rush are important, but you can often find some help for the OL to block it up. However, there is simply no protection for poor CB play and the Giants played poorly there last night.
One bright spot for me was the play of Keith Rivers and the LBs in general. Rivers was outstanding, making several great individual plays, was in on a lot of tackles, some of them behind the line for losses. Boley made the INT. I did not see Herzlich on the field at all, with Blackburn going all the way in the middle and playing fairly well.
Giants lost an opportunity to take control of the game in the first half with the fumble by Wilson on the Dallas 30 when Giants had a nice drive going; and the failure to get into the endzone after the INT. Giants could have been up 14-0 and instead were ahead only by a FG. When the Dallas offense got going, Giants could not get the game back in balance.