Eatman: Winning Stat Sheet Not Good Enough As Giants "Return" the Favor

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – This one hurts. This one hurt just like it would've hurt had the Cowboys not come back on the Giants back in Week 1 with a last-second rally.

The Cowboys were the better team the first time around and spotted them three turnovers, but still managed to win. This time, they lost the turnover battle 4-0, gave up a kickoff return for a go-ahead touchdown, and that was the difference in the game.

Regardless how this comes across, it's simply the truth: the Cowboys are better than the Giants. And that's why losses like this hurt more.

Please don't mistake this as a disrespect to the Giants. They made the necessary plays. Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie nearly scored on a pick-six early in the game before snagging two in the second half, including a crucial go-ahead touchdown. And Dwayne Harris – well we've seen him take over games in the past and he had a monster kick return in the fourth quarter that ultimately won the game.

The Giants made the plays, just not a lot of them. Fortunately for them, the Cowboys made sure they didn't have to.

Still, I thought from the tempo of the game, the plays that were being made, the time of possession and total offensive yards, the Cowboys controlled the game. With that, I would slightly say they are a little more talented right now than the Giants, who have their share of injuries, too.

But I credit New York for doing the necessary things to win. Sometimes, in this league, it comes down to just that. We've seen enough Cowboys-Giants games over the last few years, to know they come down to the end.

Usually though, as was the case in Week 1, the more talented team finds a way to win the game late. That didn't happen this time.

They weren't better than the Falcons back in Week 3. They were for a half, but not the entire game. They really didn't outplay the Saints the next week, but they certainly had chances to win. And we all know they're not on the Patriots' level right now.

[embeddedad0]But this game, this was one the Cowboys should've won. They had a week off to prepare, which was evident early on with not only new personnel on offense, but some added wrinkles. You could tell from the start the Cowboys had a little more juice. They moved the ball much better, but the end result wasn't always there.

The Cowboys had 10 offensive possessions, with an average starting field position of their own 26. The Giants had 11 possessions, averaging a starting spot of their own 27. And despite those similarities, the Cowboys outgained the Giants 460-269 and owned the time of possession by a difference of 16 minutes. That's a whole quarter more the Cowboys had the ball, and still they couldn't get more than 20 points.

The frustrating part of this four-game losing streak – I mean, aside from simply not having two of the best offensive players in the NFL, is the fact there is no quick fix to anything.

It'd be one thing if there was a common theme throughout these four losses, but there's really not one, other than the big drop-off from Romo to Brandon Weeden and now Matt Cassel.

But one game the running game explodes in the first half, then disappears in the second. We've seen this defense dominate the first half against Tom Brady but couldn't generate anything close to the same pressure in the second half.

Sometimes the special teams have been solid, other times they lost the game, like this one. After three and a half quarters of sound football, the kicking game surrenders a touchdown to Harris, followed by the ironic fumble by Cole Beasley on the punt return.

Here's a guy the Cowboys decided to let go because they couldn't afford to pay four receivers. And with Beasley getting a multi-year contract this summer along with Dez's monster deal, Harris was left out in Dallas, although he scored a big deal with the Giants.

Anyone else find it odd that Harris totaled 149 kick returns, with 43 more on two catches. In comparison, Harris had 192 all-purpose yards on Sunday, to just seven by Beasley, who had no catches on just two targets. He had a couple of punt returns, but fumbled away the one that mattered the most in the fourth quarter.

Some might argue with my notion of the Cowboys being the better team. Because in the end, it doesn't really matter if you don't win.

It's a like boxer with more technique, power, moves and skill who leads on all three scorecards through the first nine rounds but gets rocked in the 10th, and it's all over.

It happened to the Cowboys in New Orleans after they fought to tie the game, only to see C.J. Spiller jolting down the sideline for a game-winning play. Now, the Giants did the same immediately after the Cowboys tied the game, it was Harris to the rescue, providing one more haymaker the Cowboys couldn't recover from.

This was a game the Cowboys desperately needed to have. And painfully, it's one they should've had.

With 10 games remaining on the schedule, it's too early to give up hope, especially with Dez Bryant likely to return next week and Tony Romo still three games away. But at some point, these Cowboys – the ones playing each week – need to figure out how to steal a win somewhere.

Unfortunately for them, Sunday was one for the taking. And they gave it away. Four times to be exact.

 Nick Eatman is the author of the recently published *If These Walls Could Talk: Dallas Cowboys*, a collection of stories from the Cowboys' locker room, sideline and press box, with a foreword written by Darren Woodson.

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