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Cowboys 33, Giants 20: McCann's Pick Six Was Game's Key Play

The New York Giants made a season’s worth of mistakes on offense in their 33-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Sunday at New Meadowlands Stadium. None, however, was bigger than a pass from Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks that was intercepted and returned 101 yards for a touchdown by Bryan McCann of the Cowboys.

The play happened with the the Giants facing third-and-goal from the Dallas two-yard-line midway through the second quarter. With the Giants trailing, 9-3, Manning tried to hit Nicks on a quick slant in the end zone. Nicks, however, appeared to give up on the route, allowing McCann to step in for the interception. The touchdown gave Dallas a 16-3 lead and left the Giants playing from behind when it appeared they were on the verge of grabbing the lead.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin pinned the blame for the play on Nicks, the standout second-year receiver.

“(Nicks) stopped to run the slant. You can’t do that. You have to continue to run the route, run through the defenders, do whatever you have to do,” Coughlin said. “Unfortunately…that’s a basic principal. If you’ve got the slant called, you’ve got to run the slant.”

Manning would not come right out and blame Nicks for the play, but it certainly sounded like the quarterback did not get what he expected from Nicks on the pass route.

“I talked to Hakeem (Nicks) about it and we’ve worked it out, but you can’t have that happen,” Manning said. “At the worst you take a field goal and best is a touchdown so that is a 10 point swing there at the least and it is hard to overcome those things. We did a good job fighting back; we just made too many mistakes.”

Making the play even worse for the Giants, it came two plays after a false start by lineman Will Beatty negated a Giants touchdown run.

“We didn’t play well enough to win. We didn’t execute the way we’ve been executing. We gave up big plays. We didn’t make as many big plays. We hung in there. We gave it a good effort at the end, but it was too little too late,” Coughlin said. “Once again, the interceptions hurt us right at the end. We thought we had the ball in the end zone with a chance to be within six with lots of time left – seven minutes left – but that was called back by a holding penalty. We missed a short fourth and one that obviously would have kept the ball in our hands. We just didn’t play well enough to win.”