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Giants’ setback shows they’re still not yet ready for primetime

It felt more like one of those compelling New York events, a white-clad army of defiant Giants fans defending MetLife Stadium from the Big Bad Dallas Cowboys and trying to will their team to make a long-lost Ready For Prime-time statement, with the nation’s eyes watching. 

When you win a game like this, a game that would get you to 3-0 for the first time in 13 years, would break an oppressive Monday Night Football Curse, the simmering flames of belief can erupt into an unexpected fire that might not be so easy to extinguish, no matter what the naysayers say. 

Lawrence Taylor was in the house, four of his old Super Bowl teammates were inducted into the club’s Ring of Honor at halftime, No. 1 draft pick Kayvon Thibodeaux, bookended by Azeez Ojulari, was making his debut and looking to open LT’s eyes, if not get to Cooper Rush faster than game-wrecker Micah Parsons could get to Daniel Jones. … Saquon Barkley was looking to turn back the clock to his rookie season as the best player on the field. … Jones was looking to avoid a ghastly 0-9 record in prime-time games. 

Brian Daboll has shown that he can lead the Big Blue horse to water … but was it realistic for anyone to think that he could make it drink in Year 1 of an ongoing rebuild? 

It was not. 

This is a work in progress, and no one should be under any illusions otherwise. 

Daniel Jones looks to avoid a hit during the Giants' loss to the Cowboys.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

The 2-1 Giants — 23-16 losers — are a scrappy bunch, but they are Not Ready For Prime Time Players. 

For all of Daboll’s genius and creative gifts, he has no chance to beat quality teams when his offense scores only 16 points. 

When Danny Legs wasn’t running through and around the Cowboys, he was running for his life in the face of a savage, relentless pass rush (five sacks). 

It was the Cowboys who recognized Winning Time and not the Giants. 

Sterling Shepard had a completion knocked out of his hands by Anthony Brown. Kenny Golladay dropped a third-and-13 pass that was short of the sticks anyway. 

It was late in the third quarter after Jones had rambled for 14 yards and boosted his rushing total to a club-best 54 yards when he handed the ball to Barkley. 

Who started right, made a little hop step and exploded left to daylight. 

Saquon Barkley rushes for a 36-yard touchdown.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

It was a 36-yard TD run and MetLife Stadium was in a frenzy. 

Giants 13, Cowboys 6. 

All was white with the world. 

And then all was Doomsday. 

The Giants defense, which couldn’t sack Rush, buckled under the weight of carrying an offense that simply does not score enough. 

Wink Martindale had no answer for Rush, who responded immediately, and it was 13-13. This time, it was Cowboys fans who were howling. 

And then Rush did it again — 26 yards to CeeDee Lamb and a beauty of a 1-yard TD catch — and it was 20-13, and you heard “Let’s Go Cow-boys. Let’s Go Cow-boys.” 

East Rutherford wasn’t built in a day. 

Brian Daboll reacts during the Giants' loss to the Cowboys.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

A day that right tackle Evan Neal won’t soon forget. 

Giants offensive line: Still not fixed. 

Demarcus Lawrence welcomed Neal to the NFL with three sacks across the first 32 minutes. Parsons had not recorded a sack but was a presence nevertheless. 

Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard rushed for a combined 126 yards in the first half. The Giants, meanwhile, had 53 rushing yards, and 24 of them belonged to Jones. 

The Giants have no margin for error when Barkley is not imposing his will on the game. 

Jones, just before getting hit by Dorance Armstrong, had found Golladay for 21 yards — except the zebras called an awful pass interference on Shepard against Trevon Diggs. 

It was Cowboys 6, Giants 3 in the second quarter when David Sills was flagged for an illegal block in the back, and now it was first-and-19, and Jones could not overcome it. 

Jones had marched the Giants into field goal position on his opening possession, but Armstrong blocked Graham Gano’s 47-yard attempt. 

The Giants tried hard. No medals for trying.