By Brad Carroll
The New York Giants played one of their best games of the season Sunday night against one of the NFC's best teams. The Giants scored 28 points with an offense that finally looks like it's ready to explode, especially with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. establishing himself already as one of the best in the game. The Giants had all the momentum in the world after Beckham's incredible catch that could very well be the greatest of all time, holding leads of 21-10 at halftime, 21-17 late in the third quarter and 28-24 late in the final period.
The Giants, however, lost yet another game, their sixth straight, 31-28 to the Dallas Cowboys. After the Giants took a 28-24 lead with three minutes to go, the Cowboys drove 80 yards in seven plays in just under two minutes to retake the lead after a Tony Romo touchdown pass to Dez Bryant. Romo sat in the pocket for what seemed like a lifetime on the winning touchdown pass.
It was a terrible end to what was an inspired effort for Big Blue. But a loss is a loss and the Giants are now 3-8 on the season after losing for the sixth straight time. Here are those that tried best to break the losing streak, and those who didn't to their part in the loss, as we hand out Game Balls and Game Falls.
Odell Beckham Jr.: This one is obvious, right? Beckham Jr. is the main reason to watch the Giants every week, even though they have long fallen out of the playoff picture with their losing streak reaching six games Sunday night. Beckham Jr. caught 10 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns against the Cowboys. He went over 100 yards receiving for the third time in his last four games, and the one he didn't, he was just seven yards short, Of course, you can't mention Beckham Jr. without talking about the catch Sunday night. You can watch the video here, because it's nearly impossible to describe how truly great it was. The biggest discussion now is where does the catch rank all time? You would have to believe it's in the top two, with both coming from Giants players, which is just insane to think about. Based on just a single play, without taking anything else into account, Beckham Jr.'s full-stretch grab was the best of all time. But if you're taking everything into account, including the moment, the best catch is still David Tyree's amazing reception in the Super Bowl against the Patriots. In reality, if Tyree's grab was in a regular season game, it would be considered great, but it would have been long forgotten by now. Beckham Jr.'s will last a very long time in our memories.
Rashad Jennings: He didn't have a big day running the ball, with just 52 yards on 19 carries, but he was a big part of the offense overall. Jennings had 120 total yards, adding 68 yards on eight receptions. He didn't get carries around the goal line, and Andre Williams scored a touchdown on a carry that easily could have gone to Jennings, which would have made his rushing line look better. But Jennings was a big part of the offensive success for the Giants.
Eli Manning: He easily could be in the Game Falls section for his one interception, which came late in the third quarter with the Giants on the verge of putting the game away. Manning overthrew Preston Parker and the Cowboys intercepted the tipped pass at the three yard line. It was a 14-point swing, as instead of leading by a possible 11 points if the pass was better, the Giants were down three after the Cowboys scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive. But overall, Manning had a solid game, completing 29-of-40 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns. The pick was huge, but we'll give Manning the benefit of having an overall great game.
Jason Pierre-Paul: He had a fumble recovery in the game, but it's impossible to ignore how he was manhandled on the game-winning touchdown pass by Tony Romo in the final moments Sunday. Pierre-Paul was nearly pancaked twice by left tackle Tyron Smith on the pass play, getting knocked off balance on both blocks and didn't get anywhere near Romo. The lack of pass rush, and the Giants brought four, was the only reason the Cowboys scored a touchdown on the play. Romo had more than eight seconds to find an open receiver, and if you give a quarterback that much time, even a bad one, he's going to find an open man. It's tough to fault Pierre-Paul for one play, but it was that bad.
Giants Pass Rushers: Not to leave Pierre-Paul with all of the blame for that last touchdown pass, the entire Giants pass rush was to blame for allowing Romo to sit in the pocket forever until a receiver finally came open in the end zone for the game-winning score. Johnathan Hankins, Mathias Kiwanuka and Mike Patterson didn't get anywhere near Romo on the game-deciding play. "We were trying to pressure with four and obviously that didn’t work very well," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. No, it did not.
Zack Bowman: He had just two tackles and a pass deflection, not exactly hefty numbers, but Bowman is on this list for missing a tackle on a short pass to Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley that became a 45-yard touchdown reception. The scoring play allowed Dallas to cut the Giants lead to 21-17 with 6:35 to go in the third quarter.
Larry Donnell: He has just two catches for 24 yards on four targets. Donnell has been completely hit or miss this season.