What has happened to the Cowboys’ defense?

Through all of the criticism that Wade Phillips has received while he’s been the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, he’s always been reprieved in one area: His defense.

Even though the Cowboys faded down the stretch last year, they still owned the eighth best defense in the NFL thanks in large part to Phillips. Dallas ranked fifth in passing yards allowed and 12th in rushing yards allowed, which helped Phillips retain his job over the offseason.

But in two games so far this season, Dallas has surrendered 54 points. In their 33-31 loss to the Giants on Sunday night, the Cowboys were routinely beat through the air as Eli Manning threw for 330 yards and two touchdowns on 25 of 38 passing. And in case you’ve forgotten, he doesn’t have Plaxico Burress at his disposal anymore, nor has Amani Toomer found the fountain of youth and returned to New York to give Eli a solid possession receiver.

Instead, it was the future Hall of Fame duo of Mario Manningham (10 catches, 150 yards, 1 TD) and Steve Smith (10 catches, 134 yards, 1 TD) that torched the Cowboys for four quarters on Sunday night. Granted, the Giants did a great job of protecting Eli and giving him ample time to throw, but New York’s offensive line had nothing to do with Dallas defenders missing tackles, blowing assignments and allowing receivers to run free in their secondary.

Overall, it was a brutal effort by Phillip’s defense in a game that quite frankly, the Cowboys should have won. For as good as Eli was, the Giants were aided by three bone-headed interceptions thrown by Tony Romo. (Well actually, two were bone-headed, while one was just a flat out fluke as Jason Witten accidentally kicked the ball straight into Kenny Phillips’ arms.)

Romo was careless with the ball throughout the night, which is inexcusable given how good the Dallas running game was. The Cowboys racked up 251 yards on the ground, essentially did whatever it wanted to the Giants’ front seven and still found a way to lose.

Jerry Jones can’t be happy that he opened up his brand new, gazillion dollar stadium by losing to a division rival in the final seconds.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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