December Mourn

highest in five games.

Barber, as is his custom, didn't even try, giving no explanation how he allowed Mathias Kiwanuka to butt out that first-down reception at midfield that totally changed the complexion of a game the Cowboys were dominating. Or how he was held to just 36 yards on 15 carries, once again demonstrating why no one should ever again consider this Cowboys offense a running one or fool themselves into thinking that is the strength of this offense. Phooey.

Now Garrett tried, saying, "(The Giants) were committed to stopping the run, and blitzed the run," but probably was a tad confounded how a team which ran for 251 yards the first time around against the Giants could gain the next time just 45 yards on 23 carries, which is not even a full two yards a carry. Please.

OK, the Cowboys might could have dealt with that. But come on, the defense getting gashed for big play after big play - five for more than 20 yards to be exact - and not only giving up more than 21 points for just the second time this season (both to the Giants) but giving up more points in a 3:09 span of the first half (14) than they had given up in the previous two games (13)?

None was bigger than the 74-yarder to Jacobs. The Cowboys had clawed their way back into a 17-14 lead with 3:52 left in the third quarter. The Giants were at their own 26.

"Big plays hurt us," Phillips said.

This one left them gasping, but they've been playing with fire with this defensive alignment for some time. The Giants lined up two wide receivers to the right, tight end Kevin Boss on the line of scrimmage to the left and second tight end Darcy Johnson wide to the left. One running back, Jacobs.

So here is what happens: The Cowboys allow a tight end who has only caught five passes all season to draw strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh out of deep coverage, moving outside to take on Johnson. That left both corners to the other side of the field with free safety Alan Ball shaded over there in a single-safety high alignment.

Cowboys outside linebacker to the Giants' left, Anthony Spencer, was responsible for run first then Boss in front of him next. He took one step in chucked Boss at the line of scrimmage. Dropping a few yards before releasing him to Bradie James and realizing what was going down, trying like the devil to get outside to chase down the uncovered Jacobs. Reminded of how New Orleans took advantage of the Cowboys 3-4 defense in 2006 with those little dumps outside to the fullback Mike Karney.

"They called a good play and capitalized on our mistake - that's how they won the game, big plays," said Spencer, who finally caught up to Jacobs as he was leaping for the pylon.

Turned out to be a good play because the Cowboys were supposed to be in zone, but Sensabaugh got too aggressive on his side of the field and too close to Johnson. Had he been playing backed off, he would have been able to see the swing pass coming his way and aggressively move up for the tackle. But because he was bumping Johnson at the line of scrimmage, Johnson was able to tie him up easily as Jacobs motored by.

Also, Brooking needed to slide across the formation to run with Jacobs on the play, but he was late and had too much ground to cover to cut him off. And when he didn't, there was nobody left on that side of the field until Sensabaugh, who finally broke away from Johnson's jersey hold under his armpit, bumped this 264-pound boulder rolling downhill known as Jacobs, but not out, allowing him to go the remaining yards for the go-ahead touchdown in one fell swoop.

Coverage mistake or Giants defensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride just getting the Cowboys on the call? Probably depends on who you ask.

The game then turned for good, even after the Cowboys dug in at their nine to hold the Giants to a field goal a little later, still leaving them down only seven with 7:14 left and still with a chance even after being forced to punt with just under six minutes to play.

Until, that is, not one, not two, but three Cowboys players, just as they practice on punt coverage all the time, allowed Hixon out of jail at his own 21 following a 59-yard Mat McBriar boomer down the middle of the field. And when Hixon shook off Orlando

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Advertising