EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ– With so many changes taking place over the bye week, it was difficult to get a good read on what to expect come Sunday against the Giants, a team the Cowboys beat in Week 1.
But that was with Tony Romo and Dez Bryant – at least for a half – and the Cowboys gutted out a 21-20 win. This time around, the Cowboys couldn't make enough big plays and the turnover bug was too much to overcome.
On Saturday, the staff writers gave their gut feeling for Sunday's game. Check out the instant reactions from the staff of DallasCowboys.com.
David Helman:It says something that the Cowboys were minus-four in turnover differential on Sunday night, and they only lost by seven points in a game that came down to the wire. Moral victories are completely worthless in the NFL, though, so it's hard to focus too much on that. This was a sloppy, sloppy game, whether you want to look at bad quarterback play, poor route running, sloppy special teams – or pretty much all of it. It's weird, though. Because my main impression is that Matt Cassel helps make this offense potent enough to win. He's got to make better decisions, but the offense looked like much more of a threat under his guidance. Given the circumstances, the defense played a pretty strong game, but they absolutely have to find a way to generate some takeaways. They came agonizingly close three times against the Giants but came up short. Perhaps the saddest stat of all is that the loss wasted a fantastic effort from Darren McFadden, who finally got the Dallas ground game going. Like I said, it's weird. But this game has me feeling strangely optimistic about how the Cowboys can play with Matt Cassel under center. They just have to stop making stupid mistakes.
Rob Phillips: The biggest question I had all week was whether Matt Cassel would walk the fine line between aggressive and risky, since Brandon Weeden has been criticized for being conservative in his three games replacing an injured Tony Romo. Cassel made a lot of plays that kept the Cowboys in the game, perhaps most notably his 25-yard touchdown pass to Devin Street that tied it 20-20 midway through the fourth quarter. But with the good was some bad -- namely, three interceptions in the second half. I don't know if you can place all three picks solely on Cassel, but when you don't get any takeaways on defense for the fourth straight game -- a drought I expected to end Sunday -- you're simply not going to win many games with that big a minus turnover margin.
Bryan Broaddus: Thought we might see more a little more of the 3-2-6 scheme this week trying to attack the middle of the pocket and get a few more rushes one-on-one. Played more 4 man line but in a different looked played it a little wider trying to get the rushers on the edges and make these Giants offensive linemen have to chase them. As I saw on film - they were able to attack guard Geoff Schwartz who gave up sacks to Greg Hardy and Jack Crawford. I liked what I saw pressure wise because I believe it affected Manning throughout the game so that is certainly something they as a defense can continue to build on going forward.
Nick Eatman: My prediction for this game was a lot like the Cowboys' performance here Sunday. Parts of it were pretty good, but in the end just not good enough. I had the Cowboys winning because I thought they were the better team. Turns out, they were the better team but lost. It happens like that sometimes in this league. I also thought the Cowboys would have their first 100-yard rusher but it would be Joseph Randle, who left the game with a strained back. Darren McFadden ripped off 152 in a fill-in role. I thought Jason Witten would get more involved with seven catches – and he only had six. Maybe they needed him to make that fourth-down reception instead of Hanna. And I thought Matt Cassel would play well enough to win. That wasn't the case at all – as he threw three picks, including one returned for a score. This one is like the Saints loss because the Cowboys lost to a bad football team and while they're fighting for their lives without Dez and Romo, they've got to take advantage of the games they can win. They could've won this one but hurt themselves in the end.
For the initial gut feeling predictions of the staff writers posted on Saturday, click here: