The Giants and Cowboys offensive lines are trending in opposite directions.
While the Cowboys (5-1) boast arguably the league’s best unit, the Giants (3-3) have an up-and-down outfit that looked like world-beaters during their three-game winning streak and also-rans during their losses — especially last week’s thumping in Philadelphia.
The offensive line had allowed just seven sacks all season prior to Sunday night’s blowout, when Giants quarterbacks were sacked eight times.
“Everybody took a little step back … it wasn’t just the offensive line,” said Eli Manning. “They [allowed] some sacks but some of those were on me for holding the ball too long. Some were on the receivers who have to get open and do their jobs. And some were on the running backs for not picking up the protection. It was a combination of the whole offense not doing their jobs.”
A big part of the problem for the Giants is the amount of third-and-long situations. New York’s offense was seemingly stuck with ill-fated third downs where the Eagles’ defense was teeing off on Manning.
“It’s tough constantly feeling like you’re always in third-and-longs. I think we had way too many of those and can’t afford that many again this week,” said Manning. “We just can’t play like that and live in that world [because] that’ll be tough against [Dallas’] defensive front. … Hopefully we learned from last week and have grown from it. We have to get back to playing good football like we were three weeks prior.”
Right tackle Justin Pugh has mostly been playing good football this season, save for the Eagles’ game. The second-year player has taken on a bigger leadership role this season, as there’s been a changing of the guard along the line.
Gone are stalwarts like David Diehl and Chris Snee, meaning that along with veteran left tackle Will Beatty, Pugh is already an elder statesman. He took the Philadelphia game to heart, and vowed to get back to being the first-round pick he was a year ago.
Pugh had what he called a “nightmare” game, and vowed that he’d be much better against a Cowboys’ front-seven that’s actually played beyond even their wildest dreams so far this season.
“I know I can do the necessary techniques that I’ve been coached,” said Pugh, who’s started all 22 games of his career at right tackle. “I’ve done them and seen them on tape. Now, I just have to go out there and execute.”
Rookie guard Weston Richburg had a veteran’s perspective on the Eagles game and the upcoming game in Dallas.
“That’s been the common theme this week — forgetting about Philly and now focusing on Dallas. That game is long over. It didn’t happen like the way we wanted it to, but it’s time to move on and that’s what we’re doing right now,” said Richburg, a Texas native who is happy he’ll have a rooting section at AT&T Stadium. “I’m moving forward. Looking forward to having [family] there and having a better game. … [I am] forgetting about the past and looking forward to Dallas.”
The linemen have spent every waking minute since the Philadelphia game hearing about how poorly they played, so obviously they’re eager to rectify that in Dallas.
“Giants football didn’t show up last Sunday night and we have to make sure that we bring it,” Beatty said. “I tell the guys to just be ourselves and don’t try to do anything magical or special. Just keep improving as we were from earlier in the season during our three-game win streak. That is Giants football. Keep it moving forward and that is all we have to do.”
Big Blue notes …
»Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (ankle/hamstring/back) again sat out practice. The key is being able to practice Friday. If he can’t go then, he’ll likely be out for Sunday.
Linebacker Spencer Paysinger (hamstring) was limited in practice.
»The Cowboys had their own injury updates, as quarterback Tony Romo, running back DeMarco Murray and left tackle Tryon Smith practiced fully for the first time this week. Defensive end Anthony Spencer was limited.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.