Cowboys DE George Selvie vs. Giants OT Justin Pugh
I really felt like going into this game that if the Cowboys could have found a way to control the Giants running game, that they could have the opportunity to get pressure on Eli Manning with the condition of his offensive line. On tape, this Giants line didn't play with much power on the edges when it came to pass blocking in the way they set soft. As well as George Selvie had been getting off the ball and getting up the field, he wasn't his best in this game.
There were too many plays where Justin Pugh was able to handle him one-on-one in the passing game. I thought there were too many snaps where Selvie didn't put enough pressure on Pugh in trying to break his technique down which opponents had been able to do in the past. When Selvie is on his game, he attacks that up field shoulder and can capture the edge. The more I watched him play, the more he looked like a guy that was out of a job before the season. There wasn't that energy that we had seen from George Selvie that we had seen before which played right into the hands of Justin Pugh who had a comfortable matchup.
Cowboys WR Miles Austin vs. Giants CB Trumaine McBride
For the majority of the game, Austin was held in check by both of the Giants corners but when this Cowboys offense needed him the most, he was able to step up with a clutch catch on the final drive. Up until the time that McBride reinjured his hip flexor, I thought he was have a solid game. For finding a veteran guy off the street, he gives this Giants defense something. There were times in this contest where Austin did manage to work himself open but Tony Romo choose to check the ball down to Murray or look at Witten or Bryant.
On the final sack, Austin ran a pretty route down the field and would have had a big play if Romo would have had the time to search for him. Despite only having three ball thrown in his direction, what Austin was able to do scheme wise is help his teammates deal with their coverage. With his ability to line up at any position and run the correct route, it allowed Bryant to only have to deal with playing as the "X" and some slot work. Austin was also a factor in the running game where he was just more than a get in the way blocker. Again, say what you want about Miles Austin and the lack of production but there are things that he did in this game, that they had not been getting from his replacements.
*On Friday, here were my thoughts on these two matchups leading into the game:
Cowboys DE George Selvie vs. Giants OT Justin Pugh
Pressure will be a key in this game for the Cowboys and where it will come from is in a couple of different sources. In studying tape getting ready for this game, I like the matchups of DeMarcus Ware vs. Will Beatty and George Selvie working against Justin Pugh. You have heard me say this before that this Giants offensive line is not what we have seen from teams in the past. They are not nearly as physical enough when it comes to their pass sets because as a group they don't play with near enough power and strength. Pugh is only a rookie but when you watched him play at Syracuse, he had issues with players that just went right over the top of him. There have been plenty of times this season where he has been driven back into Eli Manning because he tends to set too soft and rushers have taken advantage of that. Sevie is not the biggest guy but he does have surprising strength and length that he can use. What Selvie will do is work to get Pugh off balance and have him trying to reach for him. By getting Pugh to over extended, he can work the edge and get around him. When tackles lack power, they have to play over the top of their feet in order to try and stop the rushers charge before they get going. We saw this plenty of times with Doug Free the last two seasons. When you have no upper or lower body power, it's hard to sit down and this is where Pugh has his biggest problems.
Cowboys WR Miles Austin vs. Giants CB Trumaine McBride [embedded_ad]
Austin returns to the starting lineup after missing the last three games with a hamstring injury. As critical as we have all been of Austin and his issues with those hamstrings, he will be a welcomed sight for Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. What Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan can do is move Austin around in the formation to take some of the pressure off Bryant and Witten when it comes to coverage. The Giants will not be able to double Bryant and Witten and allow Austin to just kill them all day with receptions like he did in Week 1. Austin will be matched up against the veteran corner, Trumaine McBride who has bounced around the league making stops in Chicago, Arizona, Jacksonville and now New York. He is having to make these injury starts because Corey Webster is dealing with a groin problem that has held him out since early November. To McBride's credit, he has played well for Tom Coughlin and this Giants defense. He has made 17 tackles, knocked down five passes and forced a fumble. Where these Cowboys receivers will have an advantage on McBride is that he is not a tall player at only 5-9. His speed coming out of Ole Miss was 4.57 but he appears to play much faster than that. Of the two Giants starting corners, he is a much more physical player and you see it in his technique and when he is asked to carry the receiver down the field. If there was an area that I did noticed about his play, he will drop coverage to try and help his teammates, so he does play with awareness of what is going on around him. McBride is not as talented as Webster but in listening to Coughlin talk about him, they have confidence in his play. Keep an eye on this as well, McBride is dealing with a hip flexor injury as well.