Giants regret missed opportunities in loss to Cowboys

Giants defensive end Justin Tuck reacts during the

Giants defensive end Justin Tuck reacts during the second half of a 24-17 loss to the Cowboys in the season opener at home. (Sept. 5, 2012) (Credit: AP)

A three-day weekend did little to comfort the Giants, who returned to work Monday after some down time spent watching college and pro football, catching up with family, and, in many cases, still stewing over the 24-17 loss to the Cowboys on Wednesday.

It's been almost a week since the Giants dropped their opening game of the season, but the bitterness of the loss has not left them. Justin Tuck said he has not been sleeping well since playing that game, and he suspects he is not alone.

"I think every guy in this locker room is disgusted with how we played," the defensive captain said.

While that loss lingered, the Giants had to watch idly as the rest of the NFC East teams won. Besides the Cowboys, whose win came directly at the expense of the Giants, the Eagles and Redskins opened with wins. The result was a precipitous drop in status for Big Blue. In the matter of just a few days, they went from the defending Super Bowl champions to last place.

It's only one game, sure, but division titles are often decided by one game.

"You can't lose a game," Tom Coughlin said. "Everybody's 1-0, and we're 0-1."

What still rankles the Giants is knowing that they could have -- should have -- played better against the Cowboys. They spent a good portion of the offseason listening to bitter opponents talk about how the Giants were given their playoff wins by teams, such as the Packers and 49ers, who did not play their best against them, so Tuck was careful not to go too far over that line. But clearly, he and his teammates believe there were opportunities not taken advantage of in the opener. That, Tuck said, is what has caused his sleeplessness.

"I'm not saying Dallas didn't beat us, they definitely did," Tuck said. "They did a lot of things better than we did. We didn't play well. In certain situations, we didn't give ourselves a chance to win the game . . . You want to come out and play your best game and say 'You beat us playing our best.' But we didn't do that. That irks me."

Eli Manning had similar thoughts last week.

"I think there are some games that you lose and you look at it and you just see where you just got beat on all aspects and had no chance," Manning said after reviewing the Cowboys loss. "That was not the case in this one. I thought we had opportunities. We let some plays slip away. We let some opportunities slip away and we just couldn't make them up at the end."

Coughlin noted after the loss that he was not pleased with the practices leading up to that game, that two of the three were not crisp. He vowed "a renewed conviction about preparation and practice" and said he would be "challenging our team as to whether or not all the time that we are utilizing . . . is being used properly."

Monday's practice did seem to be lively. Coughlin said the team practiced "faster" and called the effort "a good start."

Now they have a chance to restart. Because of the long layoff between their opener and the upcoming game, the Giants can put some emotional distance between the two events. In that way, Sunday's game against the Bucs is a chance to open the season again, make a second first impression.

"We want to come out and have a better showing," Tuck said. "It's going to be another great test to see where we are and hopefully we can find our rhythm and get a win at home."

And a good night's sleep.

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