Despite disappointing defeat, there's no quit

Despite disappointing defeat, there's no quit

IRVING, Tex. – Things were going so poorly for the Giants at so many different times during their division opener in Dallas that they could have given up numerous times. They didn't even come close. Say what you will about the loss, which was clinched when Jose Cortez drilled a 45-yard field goal with 11:13 to play in overtime, but the Giants, especially the defense, never gave up.

"This was real tough to take," Nick Greisen said. "The guys fought their asses off. I couldn't be prouder of this defense. Guys were tired out there but guys weren't quitting."

"We could have folded our tents early in the game," Shaun Williams added. "As a team we have the will to win. We just made a lot of mistakes that cost us."

Even the coach, who hardly throws praise of any type around, noticed.

"We have a bunch of fighters on our team," Tom Coughlin said. "There was all kinds of fighting today. Guys were determined to win. And even though we didn't have a strong game, we were able to get it into overtime."

That the offense came through at the very end, following a long afternoon of disappointments that was seemingly capped when rookie Brandon Jacobs fumbled inside the Cowboys 1-yard line with 1:18 to play, was impressive enough. But the Giants defense also did the job, responding by stuffing Dallas three-and-out to get the ball back. Then Eli Manning tossed two consecutive strikes – a 28-yard hookup to Plaxico Burress followed by a 24-yard touchdown to Jeremy Shockey – to tie the game with only 19 seconds to play.

"We hung in there," said Manning, who completed only 14-of-30 passes for 215 yards, and threw his first INT in 125 passes. "We didn't get down on ourselves. I didn't think Dallas was doing anything to stop us. We were just shooting ourselves in the foot."

"We never gave up," Michael Strahan added.

They can only hope that attitude pays off in victories down the road.

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Jeremy Shockey had a heck of a second half, catching five passes for 129 yards and the game-tying TD. However, the Cowboys did an excellent job of keeping him under wraps during the game's first half.

The reason why the Cowboys were able to control the Giants receivers while Dallas' quartet of Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn, Jason Witten and Patrick Crayton were able to light up New York's secondary was simple: The Cowboys boast a solid third corner. The Giants? They barely have solid starting corners, at this point.

With starters Anthony Henry, who had a great game, and Terence Newman locking up New York's tandem of Burress and Amani Toomer, Aaron Glenn was the man mostly responsible for holding Shockey in check in the early going. By contrast, the Giants third corner was Corey Webster, a green rookie who's coming along but nowhere yet near playing at the level of a 12-year veteran like Glenn. In games as close as these, that little advantage was more than enough to put Dallas over the top.

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It sure was nice seeing Nick Greisen not only in the starting lineup, but contributing so much to the cause. Greisen, as he usually is during the rare instances he gets on the field, was outstanding. He posted 10 tackles, got his hand on a Dallas punt and returned a fumble 28 yards in the second quarter.

"I just saw the ball rolling around," Greisen said. "But I wasn't fleet afoot enough to score."

Last season, Greisen was arguably the Giants most productive linebacker. He has a nose for the ball that coaches can't teach, which was evidenced during his first start as a rookie. Greisen recorded a sack and forced and recovered a fumble in Washington all on one play. He's active on defense and makes more plays than anyone else. Yet he remains a sub, starting only when injuries knock out players in front of him on the depth chart.

Now, hopefully the coaching staff has seen enough out of Greisen, who never complains about his status, to make him a regular part of the starting defense. He certainly deserves it.

Now, don't even get me started on why Brent Alexander is still in the starting lineup. He was burned by Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who's not exactly a speed demon, on the game's key play in overtime, yet he continues to play ahead of Shaun Williams, who, like Greisen, continues to make plays whenever he's on the field.

* * *

I almost always subscribe to the theory that you shouldn't criticize something unless you have a better alternative. However, in this instance, I simply don't care. I don't have any suggestions on how to improve overtime, but I can tell you that the fact that most NFL games that go longer than 60 minutes are decided by a coin flip, and nothing else, is just not right. This isn't to say that the Giants defense isn't at fault for allowing the winning drive, because they certainly dropped the ball in Dallas, but there simply is too big of an advantage given to whichever team wins that coin flip than there should be.

* * *

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