The storyline of this game centers around a horrific play call on the goal line. But is it really the fault of the play caller? 

By Vincent Rapisardi

New York Giants Week 1 Loss Falls Squarely On The Shoulders Of Eli ManningFor almost a complete game, the New York Giants were playing with a style and scheme I’ve almost never seen work.

Under-manned and almost talentless on their front seven, somehow forced three Dallas Cowboy turnovers without a sack and just one hit on the quarterback.

It was the epitome of the “bend but don’t break” defensive strategy. And it worked to a tee for three quarters.

They seemed to be completely outplayed (showing drastically in time of possession, as well as in total yards) yet leading 23-13 early in the fourth quarter.

That was until Tony Romo was given the reigns to really sling the ball around. Turning into 14 fourth quarter points, and a game-winning touchdown drive where he completed five of his six passes, the fifth to tight end, Jason Witten for a touchdown.

We knew the Giants starting Cullen Jenkins, Robert Ayers and Markus Kuhn would lead to disastrous circumstances eventually. Those three just aren’t starters on an NFL defensive front.

Simple as that.

But that’s not the problem I have with this game. If you don’t have talent, you don’t have talent. There’s not much you can do.

If I had to play the blame game, it would be put squarely on quarterback, Eli Manning.

This is a sensitive subject because anyone who criticizes Manning is all of a sudden reminded of his two Super Bowl MVP’s.

Yes, I know what he’s done in the past. But that doesn’t mean his mistakes shouldn’t go unaccounted for in the present.

Manning, finished the game completing 55% of his passes for just 193 yards, and no touchdowns. Many times throwing passes where many questioned if he was throwing the ball away on purpose, or the ball was just simply thrown that poorly.

Takeaway three forced turnovers by the defense, and this game is a blowout.

The play that everyone will continue to talk about unfolded like this:

With just over a minute and a half left in the game, the Giants had a third down and goal opportunity in Dallas territory. Up by three points (23-20).

Let’s remember, the Cowboys were OUT of timeouts.

The Giants decided instead of running the football – which would work the clock down, as well as give them another chance at scoring – to throw the ball on the goal line.

I’m not going to sit here and play monday morning quarterback. I really don’t think passing the football is the worst play call. I really don’t.

It could’ve easily been something that was unexpected by the defense and led to a Giants mismatch in the end zone.

My problem is how the play transpired.

As Manning rolled out and looked for his tight end, Daniel Fells – who was covered, but mainly interfered with – he threw the ball out of bounds purposely trying avoid a turnover. In return, stopping the clock.

The Giants then settled for a field goal.

Playing the quarterback position, you have to understand the situation. You’re going to kick a field goal whether you throw an incomplete pass or not – it’s third down – so why not just take the sack and let the clock run down?

For those that blame the play call, don’t you realize that Manning is entering his 12th season in the league? You don’t think he has the liberty to change a play call if he see’s something from the defense?

If he wanted to, he could’ve easily changed the play from a pass to a run. So I really don’t want to hear the blaming of the play call because it just sounds tired.

Two things went wrong on that play. BOTH on the shoulders of Eli.

Tom Coughlin can take the brunt of the abuse by the media and fans for this loss, but I put it all on the right arm of Eli Manning.

He mentally fell asleep on a drive that cost the team a huge game against a division rival on the road.

He even said in his post game press conference that he thought Dallas still owned a timeout in that game-changing situation.

It’s simply not the mindset of a Super Bowl champion quarterback. And for those that keep saying “coaching should’ve made him aware of the situation” well you would hope that as the veteran leader of this team, Manning would completely understand the situation at hand.

At this point in his career, he is almost a coach on the field. That’s a poor excuse, and sounds more like you’re in denial than anything else.

Take the jersey off and think as an outsider for once.

This one’s on Eli.

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Vincent is the Direct of Content – Features of EliteSportsNY.com, where he’s had his work shared by outlets such as Bleacher Report, Maxim Magazine and MetsBlog.com. He’s also conducted multiple interviews with professional athletes, while creating two nationally trending stories – leading to a mentioning on SportsCenter.