Putting a Finger on the Giants Win Over the Cowboys


There’s nothing wrong with the Dallas Cowboys that gutting the entire coaching staff and starting over from scratch with a course in football fundamentals wouldn’t cure.

The headline for recaps of the Giants’ 29-24 victory over Dallas yesterday mostly deal with Eli Manning’s 25th come-from-behind 4th quarter comeback. But in truth, Eli didn’t have a particularly good day: 15 completions out of 29 throws for 192 yards and an interception. Nor did the Giants defense have a particularly good day, starting with the ugly fact that the defense allowed the Cowboys to climb out of a 23-point hole. They gave up 28 first downs to the Cowboys (the Giants offense had 11), gave the Cowboys 3 first downs on penalties, and, overall, gave up 434 yards (or 141 more than the Giants).

How do you lose a game like that? First, you run the ball with such appalling inefficiency that you net just 19 yards or 1.1 yds/try – whose defense were they running the ball against, Alabama’s? Then you give your quarterback such terrible protection that he’s sacked four times and is knocked down or hurried on 11 other throws (Eli went down just twice).

Most of all, you find new ways to lose a game by an inch. I know, I know, your coach always told you football is a game of inches. But did he ever tell you it’s a game of an inch?

That’s how close it was yesterday. If you missed it, read this.

Here’s how the play came about: with a little more than a minute remaining, all the Giants had to do was get a first down. With 63 seconds left and the ball on their own 17, all the Giants had to do to put the game away was get a first down. But for the only time in the game, the Dallas defense stiffened and held Ahmad Bradshaw to nine yards on three tries. Blue punted, the Cowboys got it at their 30, and three quick passes from Romo put he ball at the Giants’ 37.

Romo then whistled one down to the left side of the Giants end zone to Dez Bryant, who was so open he should have been insulted. Bryant went up for the ball, came down on his ass, the ref’s hands went up — touchdown, Dallas wins.

But the fickle finger fates pointed at them in the form of the replay assistant, who thought he saw something – a finger, maybe a pinky, over the back boundary line. And the replay proved conclusively that that was exactly the situation. It seems ludicrous to lose a game over such a thing as a finger, and tens of thousands of Cowboy fans voted with their own fingers.

But no matter how many angles you looked at it from, Bryant’s dubious digit was indeed over the line as he came down. I know it’s easy for me, watching from my living room, to say, but didn’t anyone ever teach Dez Bryant to grab the football with both hands and simply fall down? I hate to point a finger at Bryant for this, doesn’t he know not to try and break a fall with your hand, lest you break a finger or even your wrist in the attempt?

I suppose it’s wrong to finger him out in a game in which his teammates lost the ball six times, but if Dez Bryant had kept his hands where they were supposed to be – or perhaps if he’d even thought to trim his fingernails before the game – he wouldn’t have, despite the Cowboys’ great comeback effort, lost this one single-handedly. And Dallas’s hopes of catching the Giants wouldn’t be over today.