The pass rush helped even if the Cowboys did not sack Manning often (three times in the opener, once on Sunday) but an aggressive secondary helped more.
In the Sept. 5 meeting, the Cowboys played full press 27 times, half press 15 times and off 10 times. On Sunday the Cowboys played full press 24 times, half press 25 times and off 12 times.
In the Cowboys’ previous two games against Baltimore and Carolina, the Cowboys did not play full press coverage more than 10 times in either game.
That aggressiveness by Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins against the Giants threw off the timing between Manning and his receivers. Carr played press coverage on 27 individual snaps and 15 times he played safety when the Cowboys went with their dime package.
So far this season when the Cowboys play physical up front with the wide receivers they have had success.
** When you call 67 pass plays against the Giants, you’re asking an awful lot of the offensive line. The Giants had four sacks of Tony Romo but the line held up OK against the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Chris Canty.
Bad timing on breakdowns, however, hurt. Nate Livings got overextended as he attempted to block Canty once and the former Cowboy was able to sack Romo for a 12-yard loss late in the third quarter. Doug Free made Umenyiora virtually invisible but on the fourth-and-1 play Umenyiora’s jump off the snap forced Free to hold, which would have negated a first down. Romo’s pass was ultimately picked off so it didn’t matter.
The Giants brought five defenders or more 12 times and Romo completed eight passes. He was not sacked in those instances but was picked once. Jason Witten and Miles Austin caught four passes apiece when New York brought five-plus.
The Giants’ four sacks came on four-man rushes, as did two of the three picks of Romo. The Giants are one of the few teams that can rely on a four-man rush to get after the quarterback.
** Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan relied on a four-man rush most of the time as well. He brought five or more guys just once in the game. DeMarcus Ware’s sack of Manning and Danny McCray’s interception came on four-man rushes.
** On Monday Jason Garrett was asked about the receivers’ ability to break up possible interceptions, pointing to Corey Webster’s pick of Romo as an example with Austin falling off balance as he turned for the deep ball.
On the first series of the game the Cowboys had Reuben Randle covered, but Jenkins slipped on the deep throw, allowing a 56-yard reception. Later in the game Manning threw a sideline pass to Randle when he was blanketed by Carr.
In those cases he might not have made the best decision, but his receivers made a play for him. Counter that for Romo when Austin slipped and Bryant was unable to come up with two down-the-field throws in the second half that were contested catches but plays above-average receivers should make.