NFL News & Analysis

NYG-DAL grades: Giants' free-agent additions shine on D-line

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 11: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys is tackled by Damon Harrison #98 and Kelvin Sheppard #91 of the New York Giants during the first quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

New York Giants 20, Dallas Cowboys 19

Here are the highest-graded players and top storylines from the New York Giants’ Week 1 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

New York Giants

Quarterback grade: Eli Manning, 46.5

Poor decision-making by Eli Manning leads to below-average mark

It was looking like a fairly average game for the veteran Giants’ signal caller—until he threw an inexcusable interception to Dallas' Brandon Carr. Manning has never excelled at protecting the football (also highlighted by a forced backwards pass under heavy pressure that luckily didn’t lead to disaster), but blindly throwing the ball into the waiting arms of a defender who had so clearly beaten the receiver takes things to a whole new level. One area where Manning did shine on Sunday, though, was throwing the ball deep, where he completed all four of his attempts for 103 yards and a touchdown.

Top offensive grades:

RT Marshall Newhouse, 83.3

LG Justin Pugh, 78.3

WR Sterling Shepard, 75.1

WR Odell Beckham Jr., 74.1

RG John Jerry, 73.2

O-line leads the offense 

It was a great start to the season on Sunday for the Giants’ offensive line, as a unit they allowed just five total pressures and didn’t give up a hit or a sack (Manning got himself into trouble a couple of times, but the line kept him clean). RT Marshall Newhouse lead both the line and the offense as a whole, allowing just one hurry in pass protection while also posting a team-high 84.0 run-blocking grade. Rookie WR Sterling Shepard made his presence felt in Week 1, catching three of four targets for 43 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Top defensive grades:

S Landon Collins, 82.7

ED Olivier Vernon, 81.1

ED Jason Pierre-Paul, 78.4 

DI Jonathan Hankins, 77.1

DI Damon Harrison, 75.6

Giants' newcomers shine on defense 

Giants fans quickly warmed up to the idea of having Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison team up with Jason Pierre-Paul and Jonathan Hankins on what should be—if Week 1 was any indication—an extremely productive defensive line. Those four combined to create 15 QB pressures and 10 defensive stops. Vernon tied for the team lead with six pressures (with Pierre-Paul), and also tied with Hankins to lead the team with four stops. On the back end of the defense, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie allowed just five of nine targets to be caught for a total of 46 yards; he also notched two pass defenses.

Dallas Cowboys

Quarterback grade: Dak Prescott, 64.3 

Conservative first outing for rookie QB Dak Prescott

After playing brilliantly this preseason, the hype surrounding Dak Prescott’s regular-season debut was massive; on Sunday, though, he had a fairly uneventful first showing. The rookie QB was inconsistent in terms of accuracy, often times finding the open receiver but putting the ball just out of reach. He protected the ball, however, and the Cowboys were in it with a shot to win at the end. Outside of some deep shots to Dez Bryant, the gameplan was pretty conservative for Prescott, with 27 of his 41 attempts traveling no more than 9 yards in the air.

Dak Prescott under pressure versus Giants

Dak Prescott under pressure versus Giants

Top offensive grades: 

LT Tyron Smith, 81.1

C Travis Frederick, 79.3 

RG Zack Martin, 78.2

TE Geoff Swaim, 70.0 

WR Brice Butler, 65.8

Jeckyll-and-Hyde performance from Cowboys' offensive line

Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin combined to give up just two total pressures on Sunday (Smith and Martin each gave up a hurry), while La’el Collins and Doug Free combined to give up nine, including four hits. Collins also had a miserable day run blocking, where Olivier Vernon just continuously blew him up at the line of scrimmage. The Cowboys were unable to get anything going on the ground, evident by their 3.4 yards per carry, which greatly hampered their ability to sustain anything on offense.

Top defensive grades:

CB Brandon Carr, 84.7 

S Byron Jones, 80.0

ED Benson Mayowa, 78.0 

DI Terrell McClain, 76.5

S Barry Church, 73.9

Secondary leads the way for Dallas defense 

Benson Mayowa led the defense with five total pressures (including a sack), while Terrell McClain tied Sean Lee for the team lead with five stops, but outside of them, the only real standout performances from the defensive side of the football came from the secondary. Barry Church accumulated six tackles while allowing just 10 yards on two receptions in pass coverage; Byron Jones allowed just one of two targets to be caught, and he also had a pass defense; Brandon Carr (although he did get beat for a TD in the red zone) allowed just three of six targets to be caught for 31 yards, while also snagging an interception.

Get access to grades for every player, complete with positional rankings, in our Player Grades tool.


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