The New Head Coach of the New York Giants Wins His Debut in Dallas
The last man to coach the New York Giants won two Super Bowls with the team before he was forced out. As far as proving yourself as a worthy successor goes, winning a big game against a division rival is a good first step.
Head coach Ben McAdoo, who has been preaching all offseason how this is a new Giants’ team, certainly stated his case Sunday. The Giants beat the Cowboys in Dallas 20-19.
It was a highly intense — and sometimes frustrating — season opener for both the Giants and the Cowboys. But the all too familiar story of the Giants losing the game in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter never emerged. They successfully held the lead.
Air It Out
After a mere 15-yard first possession for the Giants’ offense, Eli Manning on their second possession drove the ball 75 yards in four plays before capping it with a 15-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to Larry Donnell.
Donnell was reamed out later in the game for an obvious missed assignment.
Some things never change, being that this Giants team is most effective through the air. Other than a few holding calls and two sacks, the offensive line held up long enough for Manning to find an open target.
Odell Beckham Jr. led the way with 8 targets. He ended with 4 receptions for 73 yards, with a beauty of a 45-yard catch in the second quarter to set up the Giants’ first score. He looks as great as ever, but this year he seems to be in good company.
Rookie Sterling Shepard caught his first ever NFL touchdown, a 9-yard pass from Manning late in the second quarter. He ended the night with 3 receptions and 43 yards.
He did, however, have a costly mistake in the second half; he did not complete his route and cornerback Brandon Carr was there to intercept the ball for Dallas. Overall, Shepard flashed his ability to become an effective playmaker on this team.
For the first time in 26 games, a stadium roared with the long, drawn out cheers of “Cruz.” Not only did Victor Cruz run his routes hard and fast, he was as reliable a target as anyone could have guessed.
Cruz caught all 4 of the balls thrown his way, totaling 34 yards. But he also caught what would become the winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to put the Giants ahead.
And after a 700 game hiatus, the Salsa Dance made its long anticipated return in the end zone.
Bend, Don’t Break
After the windfall spent on improvements in the offseason, the Giants defense was finally tested in a real game. The money seems to have helped push them in the right direction.
The Cowboys have the best offensive line in the league, according to profootballfocus.com. They also had a rookie running back and a rookie quarterback in as week one starters. While the Giants were able to make Ezekiel Elliott look pedestrian, Dak Prescott looked anything but inexperienced.
Prescott led the ball downfield with seeming ease in the first drive of the game. 15 plays, 70 yards and over 8 minutes later, the Giants regained their footing and came up big on a third down stop. They settled for a Dan Bailey field goal, the first of what would be 4 for the game.
Jason Witten, as always, had his way with the Giants defense. He had 9 receptions for 66 yards and Cole Beasley was seemingly everywhere on the field; he had 8 receptions for 65 yards. As natural as Prescott looked, completing 25 of 45 for 227 yards, this buffed-up Giants defense held them to only 19 points.
Despite not being able to sack Prescott, or turn the ball over, or force the Cowboys off the field quickly and quietly, they only gave up one touchdown. With a little help from a confused Terrance Williams, who didn’t run out of bounds with seconds remaining in the game for Dallas to score, the Giants successfully held off the Cowboys’ two-minute offense.
If the defense can force a sack or two and maybe a turnover, and hold teams to low scores, this offense will have no problem ensuring enough points to win.
For the first time since 2010, the Giants start the season with a win. Kudos, Coach McAdoo. But now is not the time to start celebrating.
This week the New York Giants have their home opener against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday at 1 PM ET. Drew Brees threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns in a loss to the Oakland Raiders in Week 1.
Time to take the next step forward.