Fennelly: Gants’ Defense Rules the Night, Throttles Cowboys

The Giants are becoming a force in the NFC playoff race and it’s not because of their offense. Sure, WR Odell Beckham, Jr. took a short slant from QB Eli Manning 61 yards to the house for the winning score, but that was the only touchdown the Giants scored on the night.

It was the defense that dictated the story on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium. The Giants took down the streaking Dallas Cowboys, 10-7, handing them their second loss of the season while raising their own record to 9-4 on the year.

What a difference a year makes. Last season, the Giants’ defense was the biggest joke in sports. This year, no one is laughing except the Giants and their fans. Playing without star DE Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants’ defense stopped the unstoppable Cowboys at every twist and turn.

Ironically, it was JPP’s understudy, Romeo Okwara, an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame, who led the charge for Big Blue. Okwara had a team-high eight total tackles, a sack, three QB hits and a pass defended.

After falling behind, 7-0, on a blown coverage in which WR Terrence Williams was left all alone for a 31-yard TD, the Giants kept the Cowboys off the scoreboard for the rest of the evening. They held Dallas to just 260 yards of offense and allowed just one of 15 third down attempts to be converted. Dallas’ 152 net passing yards were the fewest by a Giants opponent since Minnesota had 150 yards last Dec. 27.

[ngg_images source=”galleries” container_ids=”182″ display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails” override_thumbnail_settings=”0″ thumbnail_width=”100″ thumbnail_height=”75″ thumbnail_crop=”1″ images_per_page=”20″ number_of_columns=”0″ ajax_pagination=”0″ show_all_in_lightbox=”0″ use_imagebrowser_effect=”0″ show_slideshow_link=”0″ slideshow_link_text=”[Show as slideshow]” template=”/home/mofosports/nysd30/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/ngglegacy/view/gallery-carousel.php” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]Coming into the game, Dallas rookie quarterback Dak Prescott had thrown only two interceptions in the first 12 games. He was picked off twice by the Giants. CB Janoris Jenkins intercepted a Prescott pass intended for Dez Bryant at the Giants’ 39-yard line with 13:33 remaining in the second quarter and DB Leon Hall had the other, and easy overthrow down the middle of the field, also intended for Bryant.

The game was played on a clock field and the ball was slippery at times. Giants’ QB Eli Manning also lost two fumbles. But it’s December in North Jersey, and these are the drawback of playing in the middle of a swamp.

“This is how you need to win them in December,” said head coach Ben McAdoo. ”It’s not going to always be pretty, it’s going to be in the elements. You stick together, stick with each other and keep believing.”

The elements were on the Giants’ side, it seemed. Dallas PK Dan Bailey, one of the NFL’s most reliable kickers, hit the crossbar on a 55-yard attempt right before halftime.

The offense was terrible again. Take out the Beckham play and the Giants’ were about as flat as week-old roadkill out there. They also only gained 260 total yards and were completely outplayed in the trenches. LT Ereck Flowers was just awful, getting beat multiple times.

All in all, the Giants will take the win and move on. It wasn’t a masterpiece but a win is a win, especially over a team that was on an 11-game winning streak.

“I just think when you take a look at the game tonight, I thought we came out, we had a good plan; defense and special teams executed at a high level,” said McAdoo. “Offense, we stuck with the run, had a chance to accumulate some runs and it’s encouraging to get out of here with a win.”

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