ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — A decade after a signature victory for Eli Manning in the same building, the writing on the wall will only get more pronounced for the two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback with each loss the New York Giants have like their opener.
Daniel Jones, the heir apparent to Manning, could be doing more than taking a few snaps late in an out-of-reach game like the sixth overall pick in this year's draft did in a 35-17 loss Sunday to Dallas.
While Manning threw for 306 yards to start his record 16th season with the Giants, fourth-year quarterback Dak Prescott and the NFC East rival Cowboys easily moved the ball up and down the field against a drastically changed and young Giants defense.
"Have got plenty of work to do," coach Pat Shurmur said. "Got a lot of young players out there playing for the first time. There's some good, and there's some stuff we've got to get cleaned up."
The Cowboys piled up 494 yards, including 405 yards passing and a career-high four touchdowns by Prescott. Dallas scored touchdowns on five consecutive drives, all of them at least 75 yards, and led 35-10 early in the second half.
New York did finish with 470 yards, but was 2 of 11 on third downs and lost two fumbles — Manning had one on a fourth-down play inside the Dallas 10 late in the third quarter, and Jones had the ball knocked loose when he was scrambling for a first on his only drive after the two-minute warning.
"We moved the ball well, did a lot of good things, just didn't play well enough, and just keep up with what Dallas was doing," Manning said. "And the second half kind of got out of hand."
When New York won the first regular-season game the Cowboys played in their showplace stadium in 2009, a then-28-year-old Manning supposedly left his signature on the wall, noting the score (33-31) along with the fact that it was the first game there.
That was the start of the second season after Manning's first Super Bowl title with New York, and two years before he got another one during the 2011 season. The Giants have been to the playoffs only once since then, and have an 8-25 record since the start of 2017.
Jones was the NFL's leading passer in the preseason with a 137.3 passer rating (29 of 34 for 416 yards and two touchdowns) while the Giants won all of those games.
"Just it being a regular-season game has a different feel to it. I think the circumstance in the game also felt a lot different," Jones said. "Still exciting to run out there."
While Jones was the holder on kicks, his first regular-season snaps at quarterback came with 1:46 remaining, which Shurmur called "an obvious situation" to get him in the game. The kid from Duke completed three short passes for 17 yards before his first incompletion, then fumbled when pushing forward for first-down yardage on a third-and-4 play.
"You can see he's a competitive guy. He'll learn to run out of bounds. In his mind, he competes and he said I wanted to guarantee we got the first. You've just got to secure the ball," Shurmur said. "For the rest of it, I felt like it was important to get him some work."