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Silverman: Shoddy Pass Defense Gives Giants’ Brain Trust Cause For Concern

Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys pulls in a possible game-winning pass in the end zone against Michael Coe #37 of the New York Giants and Corey Webster #23 of the New York Giants at Cowboys Stadium. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys pulls in a possible game-winning pass in the end zone against Michael Coe #37 of the New York Giants and Corey Webster #23 of the New York Giants at Cowboys Stadium. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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By Steve Silverman
» More Columns

The Giants took the Sunday punch of the Cowboys and somehow managed to survive.

New York will need the same kind of luck (and a lot more of it) in the days ahead to survive Hurricane Sandy that the Giants had in Dallas in the final seconds.

Just when it looked like Tony Romo had led the Cowboys on a furious rally with his pass to Dez Bryant that would have given the Cowboys a late lead, Bryant was unable to come down inbounds.

Well, his body landed in the end zone, but not before his fingertips touched the end line, indicating that he was technically out of bounds.

When (if) the Giants get back to practicing this week, head coach Tom Coughlin and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell would be well-advised to work with defensive back Michael Coe. It seemed that the defensive back was in perfect position to time the play, make a leap at the ball and bat it away before Bryant would have had a chance to catch it.

Instead, Coe made his run at the ball, leaped for it and seemed to pull off of it as he made his swipe. He swung and missed as if he was a right-handed hitter in baseball who stuck his foot in the bucket and pulled off the baseball.

There’s no advantage in having a defensive back who can diagnose a play as its unfolding, make the right read and get to the spot but fail to make the play. If it wasn’t for Bryant’s errant finger, Coe would have a lot more explaining to do.

The Cowboys came with everything they had after falling behind 23-0. and it was almost too much for the Giants. The team may be loaded with talent, particularly at the quarterback position with Eli Manning and the defensive line, but the secondary has been vulnerable since the first week of the season.

The Giants are giving up 273.5 passing yards per game, ranking 26th in the league in pass defense. If you don’t think this is a serious issue, you are kidding yourself. The Giants are only giving up 7.5 fewer passing yards per game than the Patriots (281.1 passing yards allowed per game — 28th in the league), and Bill Belichick’s secondary gave up 328 passing yards to Mark Sanchez and the Jets in Week 7.

It’s hard to give a pass defense a bigger indictment.

Few teams have the fourth-quarter presence of the Giants. Whether it’s Manning in the come-from-behind mode or the defense holding off a furious attack, the Giants almost always get the job done in the late going. That’s what great teams do.

However, this is a serious weakness that strong opponents will be able to exploit. The Steelers come to MetLife Stadium on Sunday in one of those measuring-stick regular-season games. After a slow start, the Steelers are starting to come into their own. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger does pretty well himself in fourth-quarter, game-winning situations, and he can get the ball deep downfield to his fast receivers.

Mike Wallace is probably faster than the Cowboys’ Bryant and he is not as erratic. He would have likely come down in the end zone and not let his digits extend past the end line.

The Giants are a team with maximum confidence and belief in themselves. The intangibles are not an issue.

However, they have improvements to make. They have to do a better job of defending the pass, or they will have a much more difficult time in the second half of the regular season than they did in the first.

It’s not time to panic, but it is time to make adjustments and show improvement.

Giants fans, how concerned are you about Big Blue’s pass defense as they continue their brutal schedule? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…