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News » Giants, Cowboys both stumbling

Giants, Cowboys both stumbling

Giants, Cowboys both stumbling
The Cowboys were the trendy preseason pick to win the Super Bowl.

The Giants were the league's dominant team for the first three months of the season.

They met on the field Sunday night to determine who is the team to beat in the NFC.

And now we know: the Carolina Panthers.

Despite their messy 20-8 victory Sunday night, the Cowboys bear little resemblance to the high-flying scoring machine that scored 15 touchdowns and put up 120 points in September. But while the Cowboys seem a little herky-jerky, the Giants are watching the wheels come off altogether.

The defending champs are suddenly a very flawed team.

Although the Giants were able to maintain their focus in the immediate aftermath of the Placcident, pounding the Redskins, they have been awful in the two weeks since.

NFL Week 15

Week 15 action

    Bears 27, Saints 24 -- Recap | Box
    Falcons 13, Bucs 10 -- Recap | Box
    Bengals 20, Redskins 13 -- Recap | Box
    Texans 13, Titans 12 -- Recap | Box
    Colts 31, Lions 21 -- Recap | Box
    Jaguars 20, Packers 16 -- Recap | Box
    Chargers 22, Chiefs 21 -- Recap | Box
    Dolphins 14, 49ers 9 -- Recap | Box
    Jets 31, Bills 27 -- Recap | Box
    Seahawks 23, Rams 20 -- Recap | Box
    Vikings 35, Cardinals 14 -- Recap | Box
    Steelers 13, Ravens 9 -- Recap | Box
    Panthers 30, Broncos 10 -- Recap | Box
    Patriots 49, Raiders 26 -- Recap | Box
    Cowboys 20, Giants 8 -- Recap | Box
    Browns-Eagles -- Preview | Notes


  • Marvez: Roethlisberger is clutch
  • Johnson: Falcons, 'Fins turn it around
  • Glazer: Rift in Dallas is for real


  • Online OT: Complete NFL coverage
  • Marvez: Plaxico done in New York?


  • Ranking the games
  • Week 15's best shots

In 20 total possessions against the Eagles in Week 14 and Cowboys in Week 15, the Giants mustered one meaningless touchdown at the bitter end of regulation against the Eagles.

In these back-to-back losses they have run 111 plays from scrimmage and have gained a total of 429 yards, a pathetic average of 3.9 yards per play.

After completing 13-of-27 passes for a measly 123 yards against the Eagles, Eli Manning went 18-for-35 for 191 yards with two picks against the Cowboys. In neither game could his receivers create separation consistently. Against the Eagles, when Domenik Hixon did break free he dropped a perfectly thrown bomb for what would have been a cinch TD. Against the Cowboys, while waiting for someone — anyone — to get open, Manning was sacked eight times.

Hixon, Amani Toomer and possession receiver Steve Smith just don't draw the double teams that Plaxico Burress did, which means the rest of the New York offense is no longer playing 10-on-9. On Sunday night Cowboys corner Terence Newman blanketed Hixon one-on-one and came up with two picks.

The Giants' problems were further compounded Sunday night by the absence of battering ram Brandon Jacobs, who has missed two of the team's last four games with a balky knee. Without Jacobs to soften up the Cowboys, it was the Dallas defense that dished out the punishment, hammering Manning all night.

That punishment got ratcheted up a notch when starting right tackle Kareem McKenzie went down with a back injury in the second quarter. Replacement Kevin Boothe looked shaky, both with his blocking assignments and remembering the snap count. Without Burress last week the Giants looked anemic. Without Burress and Jacobs they looked pathetic. And without Burress, Jacobs and McKenzie the Giants were reduced to six points from their kicker and two from their defense.

Even the New York defense, which has played valiantly while the offense has been failing to move the sticks, finally broke down late against Dallas. Linebacker Antonio Pierce — Plax's Winston Wolf — was beaten on consecutive plays on the Cowboys' second TD. Then, in the final minutes, desperately needing a stop, Big Blue allowed Dallas to convert a second-and-20 and a second-and-23.

There's no doubting it was a great victory for the Cowboys as they prepare to emulate the Giants' phenomenal road warrior act to last year's championship.

But the win said almost as much about the limitations of the Cowboys as it did about the wounded Giants.

Not only were the Giants without their top receiver and running back, but they were also playing without stud DT Fred Robbins. And during the game more Giants kept dropping like flies as they lost McKenzie, left guard Rich Seubert (stomach ailment), safety Kenny Phillips (head) and special-teamers Reuben Droughns (neck) and Sinorice Moss (calf).

Still, had Tony Romo not converted a third-and-9 to his bosom buddy Jason Witten with three minutes left, the banged-up Giants would have had the ball with a chance to win, down 14-8.

Why was this game, like last week's loss to Pittsburgh, such a struggle for the Dallas offense? Two reasons: T.O. and T-O-E (Terrell Owens and Marion Barber's toe).

While Owens' capacity for disruption is still All-World, his skills as a playmaker are not. So much has been made of the disharmony in the Dallas locker room that T.O.'s on-field contributions (misleading because of a monster Week 12 game) have escaped close scrutiny.

In seven of his last nine games Owens has had between 31 and 38 receiving yards. T.O. would no doubt blame those meager numbers on the fact that his QB ignores him, but when you look at the receiver's drops — including his gack on the Cowboys' first possession Sunday night — it's no wonder Romo seeks out more sure-handed options.

While Jacobs didn't dress for the Giants, the Cowboys, too, are essentially missing their own battering ram: Barber. After sitting out the Week 14 loss at Pittsburgh with a toe injury — and having his toughness questioned by Jerry Jones — Barber toughed it out against the Giants.

Was he ready to return?

After five carries he had minus-7 yards. He finished with two yards on eight carries or slightly less than a foot per attempt. He was clearly playing on slightly less than a foot. The Cowboys better hope that Barber wasn't guilted into returning too soon. Toe injuries to running backs are serious, as any LaDainian Tomlinson fantasy owner can attest.

With T.O. running his own personal fade pattern into (on-field) irrelevance and Barber being brought down by — horrors — one tackler, the Cowboys are just not that scary.

Dallas may be 9-5, but their non-divisional schedule has been a joke. They have played the Rams (2-12), Seahawks (3-11), Bengals (2-11-1), Browns (4-9), Niners (5-9) and Packers (5-9) with their combined .256 winning percentage. Even if they do win their two remaining games — home v. Ravens, at Philly — to make the playoffs, a long run looks unlikely.

As for the Giants, they host the red-hot Panthers with the No. 1 seed at stake next weekend before traveling to Minnesota in Week 17.

The G-Men rolled through the playoffs last year with four straight wins over the Buccaneers, Cowboys, Packers and Patriots.

After losing just once in their first 12 games this season, it's suddenly conceivable that the banged-up Giants could lose their last five games. If they play like they have the last two weeks they'll almost certainly lose to the Panthers and Vikings and then get bounced in their first playoff game.

In August and September the Cowboys were the team to beat in the NFC. In October and November it was the Giants.

In December neither team has looked ready for January.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 15, 2008

Shawn Andrews Name: Shawn Andrews
Position: G
Age: 25
Experience: 5 years
College: Arkansas
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