EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw 27 interceptions last season, as you may have read in this space and a few others. So far this season, he has thrown five. Four of those came in the first two games. He's thrown only one interception in his last five games and none in his last three.

This is not a coincidence.

"We're trying to protect the football and make good decisions, not force things, not make it harder than it has to be," Manning said Monday. "I'm very conscious of that, and forcing things and trying to make plays doesn't always help things out."

This is a major philosophical shift for Manning and the Giants' passing offense, which for the first 10 years of Manning's career relied on complex option routes, downfield throws and Manning's confidence in his ability to complete any throw in the world. That confidence has not waned, but what's come this season with the arrival of offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and the short-passing-based West Coast offense is an emphasis on knowing when to throw the ball away and live to fight another down.

"We have not had an interception in a couple of weeks, and that's been a very big part of our ability to control our game," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "It's not being cautious. It's, 'If it's not there, what are you going to do? Get rid of it.'"

Manning is a guy who's hit pinpoint deep sideline throws in tight coverage to win Super Bowls and who has, on occasion, thrown a ball left-handed in an effort to salvage a play. But he insists he doesn't mind the change to a more responsible passing game plan.

"I don't like throwing it to the other team," Manning said. "I don't like having to force things or create a whole lot. I want things to be clean and simple and go through progressions and get the ball out in time."

It's simple. It's responsible. It's a foundation principle of the Giants' new offense. And from the standpoint of taking care of the ball, it's working.

Jason Pierre-Paul believes Giants can run the table after bye week

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The view from the outside is that the New York Giants are basically what their 3-4 record says they are, an inconsistent team that might not be good enough to be a contender.

Jason Pierre-Paul isn't buying it.

He looks at the Giants, and sees a team ready to go on a roll. He looks at the rest of the schedule and sees nothing but victories, despite a string of tough opponents in November.

"I think the bye [week] is good," the Giants defensive end said Monday. "What have we got, nine more games to play? Let's win all the nine games. I think we can do it.

"We've just got to believe."

Pierre-Paul was one of the Giants' top performers in Sunday's 31-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, playing so well that coach Tom Coughlin singled him out in Monday's team meeting. Pierre-Paul was credited with six tackles, including two sacks and three total tackles for loss, but he looked even better than that on the game film.

"He was dominant," cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "Just getting in the backfield and blowing things up, against the run, against the pass, you name it."

Pierre-Paul was on the field for all but two of the Giants' 62 defensive plays. His performance was even more impressive because he was lined up against Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith, who was so good the week before that he was the first lineman in 10 years to win the NFL's Offensive Player of the Week award.

"[Pierre-Paul] played hard, and I thought he played well, both run and pass," Coughlin said. "His energy level was high. He had outstanding endurance. If you were going to find someone that gave the kind of effort you were looking for and played well, he would certainly be at the top of the list."

The problem for the Giants was that not enough of them have played well, at least not from week to week. They lost their first two games, won their next three, and now have lost two straight to division opponents. The 27-0 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles was ugly, but Sunday's loss to the Cowboys left a bad taste, too.

"We basically let them win," Pierre-Paul said. "We made mistakes, and it cost us big-time. [But] there's a lot more football in the second half to play. We'll be ready."

The Giants will come back after the bye with a Monday night game against the first-place Indianapolis Colts, followed by Seattle, San Francisco and a rematch with Dallas. But Pierre-Paul isn't concerned.

"I think we're fine," he said. "Tough loss [to the Cowboys], but as far as a team, we know what we can do. It's like we told everyone, do what you want this week, get away from football.

"When we come back, it's time to turn it on."

There are nine games left, and for Pierre-Paul, that can mean nine wins.

He thinks they can do it.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning didn't get to watch his older brother set the NFL's all-time record for touchdown passes Sunday night. Manning and the New York Giants were on a flight back home from Dallas when Peyton Manning whizzed past Brett Favre and into first place all time with 510 touchdown throws. But Eli knew what was going on and was excited to see the highlights when he landed.

"You never play for individual awards and records, but the touchdown record is pretty special," Eli Manning said Monday. "And I think it has a chance to stick around for a long time."

Eli said he sent Peyton a text, but as of 3:30 pm ET on Monday he still hadn't had a chance to speak to him. Peyton Manning and the Broncos are preparing for a quick-turnaround Thursday night game this week, and so the schedule is a bit off.

"I just sent him a text message, told him congratulations and that I'm proud of him," Eli said. "Obviously, I know he was proud to get the win with it."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Most of the New York Giants' players finished up meetings Monday and headed out for a long midseason break. The Giants are on bye next week and don't play again until Nov. 3. So guys who want to shut it down, get out of town for a few days, go fishing, whatever, they all go their separate ways.

Some will have to be around the facility, however, to get treatment for various injuries. And there are a few significant Giants injuries to monitor over the next couple of weeks.

There is some hope that the return of running back Rashad Jennings from the knee injury that has cost him the past two games and of guard Geoff Schwartz from the toe injury that has so far delayed his Giants' debut will help get the running game going again. But to hear coach Tom Coughlin tell it, neither of those players is a sure thing to return in Week 9. Due to his short-term injured reserve status, Schwartz wasn't even eligible to practice until last week, and all he's done so far is some light running.

"Schwartz has got a long way to go," Coughlin said.

Coughlin also pointed out Jennings is trying to work his way back from a pretty serious knee injury -- an MCL sprain he suffered in the Week 5 victory over Atlanta. Jennings said his goal is to get back in time for the Week 9 "Monday Night Football" game.

"That's what we're trying to get to," Jennings said. "We've got the bye week and we've got some down time, so I'm just working. Preparing my body so that when it heals I can pick up where I left off."

Jennings said he would do more running this week and then "eventually get into the cuts." Schwartz said the goal for him was to practice on the field with the team next week when they return from the bye week.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Giants are banged up as well. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins left Sunday's game in Dallas in the first half with a calf strain. An MRI on Monday confirmed the strain and nothing more, but Jenkins was still on crutches and in a walking boot Monday and said it was "probably going to be at least a couple weeks" before he could play again.

Middle linebacker Jon Beason re-aggravated the toe injury that cost him all of training camp and three games earlier this season, and Coughlin said Beason likely would go back to see the same foot specialist he's seen a few times this year. It's possible the Giants will end up having to shut Beason down due to this injury, but Coughlin said that's not in the plans at this point.

And cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie plans to continue to play through the leg and back injuries that have been limiting him. "It's going to be a continuous kind of thing here," Coughlin said, though he's hoping the two weeks of rest will help.

Fantasy: Giants' Wideouts

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20


Christopher Harris analyzes the Giants' wideouts for Week 8.

5 Plays that shaped the game

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
IRVING, Texas - There were 119 plays in the Cowboys’ 31-21 win over the New York Giants. They weren’t all created equal. It’s never that way. Touchdowns and turnovers get most of the attention, but who wins or loses is often determined by plays that get lost in shadows of those that command the most attention.

Here’s a look at five plays that shaped the Cowboys’ win:

Play: DeMarco Murray run
Situation: Third-and-1 from Dallas 29
Score: Dallas leads, 28-21
Time: 4:04 left in fourth quarter

Taylor's Take: The Cowboys knew they needed a couple of first downs or there was a good chance the Giants would drive for the game-tying touchdown. The Cowboys lined up in a three-tight end formation and ran right behind them, Jason Witten, James Hanna and Gavin Escobar each won their individual battles and Murray ran over Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for the first down. The Cowboys took 4:59 off the clock before kicking a field goal that clinched the win.

Play: Jason Pierre-Paul sack
Situation: Second-and-5 from Dallas 25
Score: Tied, 0-0
Time: 14:28 left in third quarter

Taylor's Take: Few things are worse -- it has been reinforced this season -- than a first quarter turnover that gives an opponent early momentum. Romo was trying to throw a checkdown pass to Murray, when he saw a Giants’ player in that area. When he pulled the ball back, Romo lost control of it. He juggled it several times and finally corralled it just as Jason Pierre-Paul sacked him. Lose a fumble right then and the Giants almost certainly would have taken an early lead.

Play: Terrell McClain tackle
Situation: First-and-10 from Dallas 35
Score: Tied, 14-14
Time: 11:44 left in third quarter

Taylor's Take: On their first possession of the third quarter, the Giants were driving to take the lead. They converted two third downs and had moved to the Dallas 35, when Terrell McClain made his biggest play of the season. McClain sliced through the line of scrimmage and drilled running back Andre Williams for a three-yard loss. He stripped the ball in the process, but Williams was ruled down because his forward progress had been stopped. That hit energized the Cowboys’ defense, and the Giants punted after failing to convert a third-and-18.

Play: J.J. Wilcox pass interference penalty
Situation: Fourth-and-1 from Dallas 38
Score: Dallas leads, 7-0
Time: 12:50 left in second quarter

Taylor's Take: New York coach Tom Coughlin was already feeling desperate, which is why he went for it this early in the game. The Giants called a play-action pass and Dallas covered it perfectly. Barry Church was behind tight end Daniel Fells and J.J. Wilcox was perfectly positioned in front of him. But Wilcox didn’t trust his coverage, so he put his hands on Fells drawing a penalty and giving the Giants a first down. Four plays later, the Giants tied the score.

Play: Rueben Randle penalty
Situation: First-and-10 from Dallas 40
Score: Dallas leads, 21-14
Time: 3:10 left in third quarter

Taylor's Take: The Cowboys had just taken the lead, and the Giants were driving once again to tie the score. The Giants wanted a bubble screen to Preston Parker, but Orlando Scandrick recognized it so quickly that Randle had no choice but to hold him because he was going to blow the play up. The penalty made first-and-20, thwarting the Giants' drive.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The drive that put away the Dallas Cowboys' 31-21 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday was notable not for the predictable way it ended (a 1-yard DeMarco Murray touchdown after a brilliant Dez Bryant sideline catch) but for the way it began.

The Giants were still in this very good game, trailing 21-14 with a little over 11 minutes left. They were deep in their own territory but moving the ball. On third-and-8 from his own 19-yard line, quarterback Eli Manning found tight end Larry Donnell over the middle for a reception that would have moved the chains and kept the drive alive ... but Donnell fumbled the ball.

Cowboys linebacker Justin Durant collected the ball at the Giants' 27-yard line and Dallas' extremely efficient offense was in business -- apparently assured of nothing less than a field goal from their outstanding kicker. A touchdown would put the game more or less out of reach.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who would not throw a single incomplete pass in the second half of this game, found Murray for a 4-yard gain on first down. Murray, the NFL's rushing leader, was stuffed in the backfield by Giants linebacker Jameel McClain for a 2-yard loss on second down, setting up a third-and-8 from the Giants' 25.

But converting third downs is something the Cowboys do quite well. They would convert nine of 14 in this game and lead the league in third-down conversion percentage for the year. Bryant lined up wide left. Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara, who'd drawn the assignment of covering the Cowboys' best receiver due to the injury to fellow corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, tried to jam Bryant at the line -- an idea Amukamara himself later described as "a dumb move by me." Bryant got by him just enough, and made a dazzlingly athletic catch inside the 5-yard line.

Bryant reached for the end-zone pylon and the officials initially ruled the play a touchdown. A replay review showed that it was not, but Murray took care of things on the next play, plunging in from a yard out to extend the Dallas lead to 28-14 with 9:17 left in the game.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- At their team meeting here Saturday night, on the eve of their game here Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants heard from injured teammate Victor Cruz.

Cruz, the star wide receiver who suffered a season-ending knee injury the Sunday before in Philadelphia, was at the Giants' team facility last week and taped a video message to his teammates. The coaches played the video Saturday night, and in it Cruz addressed each position group individually and even a few individuals.

"For us to be able to see him strong like that, it gives us strength. It gives me strength," said rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who caught two touchdown passes in Sunday's loss. "We're all playing for Vic. That's a guy we all look up to. It's hard to see him like that, but for him to be in good spirits and show strength, that's encouraging for us."

Beckham was one of the individuals Cruz singled out in the video, telling him, "we need you now." And Beckham said Cruz's message to each position group was, "Am I my brother's keeper?", asking the Giants to play for each other the rest of the way.

"He's still part of this team and part of this season," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. "He's a leader of this team, and we still get to have his presence around. It'll be good."

The Giants are on bye this week and return to action with a "Monday Night Football" game at home against the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 3.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- New York Giants defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins left AT&T Stadium on Sunday night on crutches and with his injured right leg in a walking boot. Jenkins left the Giants' 31-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the first half with a calf injury and will have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of it.

"Felt like somebody hit me with a hammer," Jenkins said. "It was one of those things where you're running and you feel like you got hit, then you realize there was nobody behind you, and you're just like, 'Aww, man.'"

Jenkins' injury would be another tough blow to a Giants' defense that may be more banged-up than the banged-up offense. In addition to Jenkins, middle linebacker Jon Beason left Sunday's game early with a re-aggravation of the toe injury that's been bugging him since June. Beason has missed three games this season after missing all of training camp and can't seem to shake the injury.

"I really wanted to put that behind us, but it cropped up again," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.

Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who's been missing practice with leg and back injuries, was active for the game and was in on some early third downs (and on the field-goal-block team for Dan Bailey's late game-clincher), but he's clearly not healthy either. His hope is that next week's bye gives him time to heal and that he can be back to 100 percent in time for the "Monday Night Football" game against the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 3. With nickel cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride out for the year, the Giants' once-deep secondary is leaking oil.

"If I get on the field, I have to feel like I'm myself," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "Can't go out there half-steppin'."
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The two weeks that were going to tell us all about the 2014 New York Giants went about as poorly as they could have gone and told us everything we needed to know.

The Dallas Cowboys beat the Giants 31-21 on Sunday at AT&T Stadium to improve to 6-1. They lead the NFC East by a half-game over the idle Philadelphia Eagles, who are 5-1 and beat the Giants 27-0 last Sunday. The Giants are 3-4, well behind two teams that just beat them, and as they head into their bye week, they look absolutely nothing like a team with playoff hopes.

"This is our bye week, and when we come back, we want to be a great team," defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. "We have a good football team. When we get those kinks out of there, we'll be all right."

That is the right way for the players in the locker room to think, because their job is to take the field every week and give an honest effort to win games. But to those of us who stand on the outside and evaluate these teams against one another, it's clear that these Giants are not that good. They're not a terrible team, as they were this time last year, but they're not a contender either. They are a rebuilding team and clearly have been since they changed up the offense and blew out the free-agent budget in the offseason, signing more free agents than any other team.

And while the remainder of this year is likely to feature periods of encouraging progress, right now the Giants just don't have enough good players to hang with the top teams in the league.

"We've got to figure out a way to get better," quarterback Eli Manning said. "We have to eliminate the mistakes and the little things so we can execute better and find a way to sustain more drives."

The Giants were penalized six times for 40 yards, and the timing of the penalties was backbreaking. They lost two fumbles, the first of which came at a point when the game was still in question.

These are the mistakes to which Manning refers, and the Giants aren't a team that can overcome such mistakes. Given their significant personnel deficiencies relative to their division rivals, they need to be just about perfect to win games.

The Cowboys' offensive skill-position players Sunday around quarterback Tony Romo included Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Terrance Williams, Jason Witten and emerging tight end Gavin Escobar. Their opposite numbers on the Giants were Rueben Randle, Andre Williams, Odell Beckham Jr., Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells. Size those groups up against each other and there's no reason to believe the game should have been close. That Giants' core has talent and promise, but no neutral observer could think it compares to the Cowboys' offensive personnel at this stage in the careers of the people on those lists.

Add in the fact that the Giants are missing top wide receiver Victor Cruz, starting running back Rashad Jennings, top cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and starting middle linebacker Jon Beason due to injury and lost starting defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins early in Sunday's game. These are significant losses to overcome, and the Giants at this stage in their roster rebuild don't have the depth to overcome them.

"We keep forgetting about that, because we have to come back and play next week," cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "But when you do lose key players, it definitely can hurt your team."

It's crippling the Giants, who needed everything possible to go right to contend this year. In the end, the best they can hope for this season is to be able to say at its end that they made progress in the new offensive scheme and have a plan for patching the remaining holes next offseason. Any talk of firing coaches is likely to be unjustified -- as it usually is -- because this is a roster-in-progress and a project that likely needs at least two years to bear fruit.

That's the reality of what the Giants are dealing with in 2014, and it always has been. Players like Beckham offer hope for the future, and this Giants team is likely to be better this time next year than it is right now. But right now, the simple fact is it's not good enough to be a contender. Not this year.

Cowboys reporter Todd Archer's game ball goes to DeMarco Murray, who set an NFL record with his seventh consecutive 100-yard game to open a season. . Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. gets the nod from Dan Graziano.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the New York Giants' 31-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
  • There are any number of reasons the Giants have lost the two division games they've played in the past eight days, but the players don't want to hear any of them. "There's no reason to mince words," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "I'm tired of losing, and I'm ready to win." The Giants will have to wait awhile to try again. Their next game is not for 15 more days, as they are on bye next week.
  • Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins left the locker room on crutches and with his right lower leg in a plastic boot. He said he "felt like he got hit with a hammer" and will have an MRI on Monday on his injured right calf.
  • Cornerback Prince Amukamara said he tried to jam Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant at the line on the play that ended up being the game-clinching touchdown. "Just a dumb move on my part," Amukamara said. "I should have just played him straight-up and pressed him. He made a great play."

Cowboys Win Sixth Straight

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19


Tony Romo threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Cowboys past the Giants 31-21.