And this offensive malaise is becoming symptomatic of why the Cowboys are just 3-3 over the past six games. This is the fifth time this year the Cowboys offense has scored no more than one touchdown in a game and the sixth time in the past seven games the Cowboys have scored no more than 21 points.
"If we don't play better than we did today offensively, we're not going to have a chance," Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells said, knowing despite the loss, his team still has a chance for even a division title with four to go. "We made too many mistakes on offense to have a chance. Their defense, they played well, but our defense played well, too.
"We didn't really block them well."
Not well? Sometimes not at all.
This will come as no shock, but rookie sixth-round pick Rob Petitti had big problems with Michael Strahan, who had two sacks. What did you expect? Torrin Tucker had problems with Osi Umenyiora, who leads the NFC now with 11 sacks. What did you expect?
The Cowboys again had problems with a defensive line jumping the snap count, just as Giants defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy did on that first play of the second half, knifing past center Andre Gurode to nearly intercept Bledsoe's attempted handoff to Julius Jones and cause the fumble Antonio Pierce scooped up for a gimme 12-yard return for a touchdown.
"He jumped the snap count," Gurode said. "As soon as the ball was ready to move he was across the line, and by the time I got the ball to Drew, he was on my back shoulder."
The Cowboys tried to counter all this Giants pressure by almost exclusively running their two-tight end offense. In fact, fullback Lousaka Polite wasn't even active. But by using tight ends to chip the ends and the running back to either help with the ends or pick up blitzes, the Cowboys provided very few choices in patterns for Bledsoe.
And even worse? Several times the Giants ran a three-man front in definite passing situations, and still got pressure on Bledsoe, who was having to sift through six defensive backs. Then worse than that? Bledsoe started taking some chances, trying to fit some passes in where he had little chance, getting picked twice on third-and-double digits in the second half.
"Look, don't throw the game on the two tackles," Parcells barked. "We just didn't execute well."
Bledsoe said he'd like to have a couple of throws back, especially the second-and-eight one from the Cowboys 14 on the first drive of the game. He got Terry Glenn in single coverage with Will Allen, and Glenn smoked him. But Bledsoe, throwing with this weird wind Sunday, overthrew Glenn by two strides.
"That Go to Terry early could have been a game-changer," Bledsoe said.
There were two other "game-changers" in this tightly fought game. In the day's lone actual touchdown drive, the Giants benefited from two illegal contact calls on Jacques Reeves, forced onto the nickel because of Anthony Henry's continued absence. The first, on second-and-five with Eli Manning throwing the ball away, gave the Giants a first down at the Cowboys 34.
The second came on third-and-six from the Cowboys 35, with Manning running for safety and basically throwing the ball away out of bounds deep. Replays show Reeves making contact with Tim Carter, who was running a comeback when Manning was throwing a go, but the contact seemed mighty close to the five-yard allotment.
Yet, first down, and five plays later, Brandon Jacobs concluded the 73-yard drive with a two-yard run for truly the only touchdown drive of the game.
And, yes there was one more critical play, and this one went against Aaron Glenn when, with the Cowboys trailing 17-10 on a second-and-eight from the Giants 25, Keith Davis made a diving interception. With Davis on the ground, here came the flag from the other side of the field for interference on Glenn, who ended up in a Plaxico Burress headlock.
"I don't know, thought the guy had me in a headlock," Glenn said. "This is an offensive league, and they want an offensive game. I got one (interference call on Burress for pushing off), but it seemed like it was a WWF match out there."
The Cowboys would have had the ball trailing by seven at