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Scout's Eye: Terrell McClain Plays Up To His Potential; Other Thoughts

IRVING, Texas – Having spent the day with the tape of Cowboys-Giants, here are some of my biggest impressions from Sunday.

  • From the press box, my initial thought on Jermey Parnell was that he struggled in the first half but managed to play better in the second. The tape showed that he was actually more consistent than I believed he was.

The tackle for loss that Mathias Kiwanuka had on him was a mental error instead of a physical one. He made the mistake of pass setting instead of run blocking, and that allowed Kiwanuka to take a hard inside charge to the ball and it left Parnell out of position to handle that move.

Other than that assignment error, I would say that he was assignment-sound and did a solid job of handling Kiwanuka during the game, as well as Jason Pierre-Paul for a snap. He was physical in the running game and was good working with both Zack Martin and the tight ends. In that final drive, he had a key cut off block that allowed DeMarco Murray to bend the ball back to the outside for a 17-yard gain to help seal the victory.

  • In a game where big offensive plays for the Cowboys were hard to come by, I thought the pass that Tony Romo threw to Dez Bryant for 44 yards was huge in the game. The game was tied and they were facing a third down on their own 11-yard line.

What makes this play interesting is that Bryant ran it from the slot instead of the outside. Usually, when he comes from the inside he is going across the formation, but by design Scott Linehan got him matched up against the Giants worst cornerback -- Chandler Fenner -- by going with an empty backfield and took the route to the outside.

What was strange about the way the Giants decided to play it was their decision to keep Prince Amukamara on the outside against Cole Beasley, instead of moving him inside to handle Bryant. The Giants also went with a Cover 2 look, putting Antrel Rolle on the right hash to Bryant's side.

At the snap of the ball, Rolle drove to the middle of the field, playing like a robber for underneath routes -- which meant that all Bryant had to do was beat Fenner off the snap to win in the route. Bryant was able to turn Fenner completely around.

In the pocket you can see that Romo is just waiting for Bryant to make his break to the outside to get him the ball and once he did it was a simple game of pitch and catch. It was a nice design by Linehan but even better execution on the play by Bryant and Romo to get the offense out of a hole.

  • I have been waiting weeks for Terrell McClain to play the type of game that he showed against the Giants.

There was a side of me that thought maybe these coaches might replace him in the rotation by choosing to go with Davon Coleman or Ken Bishop, but they stuck with him and he rewarded them with a nice game. I knew he was capable of being a disruptive player and finally he managed to put it all together in that second half.

He showed initial quickness and a burst along with lateral speed and close. He was able to anchor down at the point, showing some upper body strength and power. His effort and stamina were also outstanding and it appeared the longer he played he was able to keep that pace, down after down.

McClain played as the under-tackle but also got some snaps as the nose and was effective in both spots. What was impressive is when the Giants tried to block back on him, he quickly avoided that block and stepped up to meet the ball carrier. The game tape showed he was robbed of a turnover when he ripped the ball out of Andre Williams' hands, which would have capped off a game where he was a real factor.

[embeddedad0] * Jason Garrett likes to call them dirty yards and there were plenty of them for DeMarco Murray in this game. I thought the Giants did a really nice job up front of really not allowing Murray to get going early in this game.

Defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins was a load inside, and there were several snaps where he gave Ronald Leary and Travis Frederick fits to try and handle him one-on-one in his ability to play off the block and work down the line. You have heard me say this before about a big man that has little man feet and this is exactly what you have in Hankins.

These Giants linebackers were very active as well, and that made things very tough in the running game. What I have grown to appreciate about Murray over his time with the Cowboys is his ability to see where the hole is and work in that direction. He is not a dancer and he knows when it's difficult to run the ball not to waste time behind the line of scrimmage and suffer a negative play.

There were several snaps in this game where Murray's vision and desire to finish a run turned in what could have been a bad day running the ball into one where they were able to maintain some offensive balance.

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