The Giants found a new thing to get wrong.
Despite a sometimes strong showing against the Cowboys in what has otherwise been a frightful season, they were plagued by a different sort of issue Sunday afternoon.
It wasn’t necessarily Daniel Jones who soured their evening. It wasn’t even their woeful running game, which continued to be lackluster.
No, this was Game 5. It was time to be creative. For this occasion, penalties would play the villain.
Despite their best offensive showing of the season, the Giants were hamstrung by the two touchdowns they appeared to score but immediately came right back, a stark reminder of the way things could go right if only they were executed correctly. But maybe the most difficult part was how out of character it was.
The Giants came into the game with the NFL’s lowest total of yards lost by penalties, a paltry 83. They were third-best in total penalties accrued, at a modest 16. So their penalties Sunday were out of character — but it wasn’t only that they had eight of them for 81 yards, it also was the timing of some of them.
In the end, it added up to a 37-34 loss to the Cowboys, who recorded their second win of the season despite the loss of Dak Prescott, who suffered a compound ankle fracture and was scheduled to have surgery Sunday night. The Giants joined the Jets in falling to 0-5.
"Obviously, I’m disappointed we didn’t come up with a win," said Darius Slayton, whose touchdown was called back because of a teammate’s offensive pass interference. "We would’ve scored two touchdowns today if [not for] two penalties."
With the score tied at 17 late in the second quarter, holder Riley Dixon’s pass on a fake field-goal attempt went to a completely uncovered Evan Engram, who caught the 27-yarder, but the touchdown was erased by Cameron Fleming’s illegal shift.
Joe Judge slammed his headset onto the grass. "I was mad at our execution, that we took points off the board," he said. "That was it, point blank. You prepare for something like that, you call it a certain time, you want to see it work. We’ve got to clean it up there."
The Giants settled for the field goal to temporarily go ahead.
With 9:51 left in the third quarter and the Cowboys leading 24-20, Jones hit Slayton for an apparent go-ahead touchdown, but Damion Ratley, looking as if he were running a route or attempting a pick play, was called for pass interference to disallow a touchdown for the second time in about 12 minutes.
Judge said he needed to review the video to see if Ratley had gone far enough downfield to qualify for the penalty.
"It’s up to us to execute the right way," he said. "We understand there are some spot routes and rubs and some friction [with] defensive players based on what they’re doing. It’s up to us to execute it the right way."