Another 4th quarter defensive meltdown

We are up 12 points with 5:52 left on the clock, and I say to the person sitting next to me, "we cannot let them score quickly … if they score, we need to force them to take 4 minutes off the clock." What happens next?

Rob Ryan, feeling that he needs to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, decides to put max pressure on Eli. The Cowboys hadn't gotten any pressure on Eli the entire game, even with their heavy blitzes, and he decides he's going to leave his (weak) defensive backfield out on an island. The predictable happens, and Eli continues to hit the open guy after open guy for big chunks of yards.

Although only for 5 yards, one (of the many) killer play was Ware's first false start. It stopped the clock, gave the Giants a favorable down and distance (1st and 5), and gave the Giants a chance to regroup. The Giants were on the 37 yard line when it happened. 20 seconds later, the Giants were in the end zone. It only took them 2:32 to get into the end zone and they didn't burn a single time out.

The next drive, Felix gets a nice run for 5 yards on 1st down. However, I've seen this exact situation in both the NYJ and NE games. The Cowboys forget that they are a good running team only when the other team is afraid of the pass. Here, the Giants were expect run on 2nd down and stuffed them. We then missed what would have been the clinching play to Myles.

McBriar could have easily gotten off a 50-60 yarders because he could have put his full leg into it and only gets 33 yards. That was another absolute killer. Very next first play, Rob being Rob blitzes and Spencer is caught running behind Jake Ballard who goes for 21 yards and easily puts the Giants into scoring position. Barely a minute has run off the clock since the Giants scored their TD and they are already on Dallas's 37.

The key to winning most games (in any sport) is to press the advantage you have. Up 12 minutes with 5:52 left on the clock, your advantage is the clock. Your advantage is not blitzing Eli because he has long showed that he can find the (wide) open guy. Like Garrett didn't put the Cowboys into a position to win last week, Ryan didn't put the Cowboys in a position to win this week. If the Cowboys could have played the force Eli to take small chunks at a time, while keeping the clock moving, there would not have been enough time for Eli's second drive.

I've read people say that Rob doesn't adjust well in the second half after the other team figures out what he is doing. I'm beginning to believe it. This defense just cannot stop anybody when they have to in the 4th quarter.

I'll give some credit to a few players: Felix for showing that he is still a viable #1 running back. To Romo for continue to make plays with a shaky offensive line. To Myles for stepping up big in the final drive. To Robinson, for continuing to make big plays. To Jenkins, for being out there when he could have easily sat it out after his injury. As for the goats, if you play on defense, then you were probably a goat.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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