It got to a point Sunday night, sometime in the third quarter after turnover No. 5, that it almost became a surprise when any play ended without the ball squirting free from from a pile of blue and silver jerseys. Tom Coughlin had to be losing his mind over how many turnovers and mental errors the New York Giants made in their season-opening 36-31 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, long before Giants tailback Da’Rel Scott ricocheted the game-losing pick-six into the Dallas secondary.
New York turned the ball over more times in a single game than they have in decades yet had a shot down 30-24 late before Scott’s miscue. What makes that more incredible is just how little Big Blue even possessed the football in the early going.
Big Blue’s first-ever loss at the new Cowboys Stadium yielded overwhelming advantages to the Cowboys in yardage and time of possession through three quarters, during which it didn’t feel like these two teams were worlds apart in quality. So the furious late rally was no shocker, and the turnover-filled opening quarters become all the more frustrating.
It was New York’s haphazard handling of the football — between fumbles and an intercepted screen pass to start matters — that just kept putting the football right back in Dallas’ hands and deflating any momentum the Giants could mount early on.
The NBC Sunday Night Football crew came out of halftime loudly panning the hideous first 30 minutes of regular-season football New York produced, even though it only left them down 13-10.
“One blown assignment to keep this game close,” color commentator Chris Collinsworth said, referring to the blown coverage that freed up Victor Cruz downfield for a 70-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning. Outside of that, New York’s offense remained dormant, possessing the ball for only 8:29 in the first-half and churning out 24 yards on the ground.
“That’s the worst half of football I’ve ever seen in my life,” the NBC crew relayed from Coughlin mid-game. It did not get immediately better, as Manning was immediately sacked and then David Wilson put the final nail of his RB1 coffin — for tonight at least — by surrendering his second fumble of the game, except this time it was taken back for a defensive touchdown. It’s easy to remember that Wilson went from prized first-rounder to bench-warmer after his Week 1 fumble issues last season.
Coughlin’s most well-known tendency is holding his team accountable for needless turnovers and similar mistakes, so I’m expecting the Giants to beat themselves a little less heading forward. I’m not sure Scott or some street vet starting over Wilson is the answer, but we’ll see what Coughlin decides.