Giants' passing game grounded

November, 24, 2013
11/24/13
10:10
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There would be no repeat of Week 1 for the Giants' receivers.

After torching the Cowboys' secondary for 450 yards in the season opener, the Giants' passing game totaled just 174 yards in Sunday's 24-21 loss to Dallas at MetLife Stadium. The Giants' receivers pointed to the success of the running game, which ran for 202 yards, but the passing attack never got going and was often out of sync.

Receiver Victor Cruz made the costliest mistake of the game when he was stripped and Dallas returned the ball for a score, and receiver Hakeem Nicks was inactive for the first time all season.

[+] EnlargeVictor Cruz
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsVictor Cruz hauled in just two catches for 27 yards.
"We didn't particularly throw the ball or have as much yardage as we would have thought with the passing game," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.

Opposing offenses have had great success this year attacking Dallas through the air as the Cowboys entered Sunday's game ranked last in the NFL by allowing 313 passing yards per game. The Giants were privy to this information based on the last matchup with Dallas on Sept. 8, when Cruz, Nicks and Rueben Randle each went for more than 100 receiving yards in the Giants' 36-31 loss.

The Giants' running game had its way with Dallas' depleted defense, but the passing attack, once considered the strength of the team, couldn't get going as Manning and his receivers weren't on the same page. After catching five passes for 118 yards in the previous game, Cruz had just two for 27 yards. Randle led the team with three catches for 64 yards, but that was 37 less than he posted last time.

In a revealing sequence late in the second quarter, the Giants chose to run the ball on third-and-goal from the 10 rather than have Manning throw. The run was not enough and the Giants kicked a field goal.

"There were definitely voids and times where I was open. It was just different circumstances where Eli was sacked or Eli was moving other ways, things of that nature," Cruz said of Dallas' plan against him. "I don't think it was necessarily them doing a better job. I felt there were still voids and still routes open."

Cruz had the biggest blunder of the game when he fumbled after hauling in a 5-yard catch in the first quarter. As Cruz fought for an extra yard with two defenders draped over him, Orlando Scandrick pulled the ball out and it was recovered by Jeff Heath, who took it 50 yards to put the Cowboys up, 7-0.

It marked the third defensive touchdown the Cowboys scored against the Giants this season.

"I can't let those type of things happen," Cruz said. "I got to take better care of the football and know that they are doing that and they're going to try to come in there and strip it and take better care of it."

Leading up to the game, Nicks, who is bothered by an abdominal injury, said that he would play, which proved to be false confidence. The Giants certainly could have used him Sunday as Manning and Randle weren't always on the same page -- which has been an reoccurring issue -- and the Giants weren't able to get much from Jerrel Jernigan.

Louis Murphy did catch his first touchdown pass.

"All week things happen throughout our team, coaches make decisions," Cruz said of Nicks not playing. "I have no part in that so obviously when I come in and I don't see him I'm going to be surprised."

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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