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Doug Farrar

Was Hakeem Nicks the reason for Bryan McCann's pick-six?

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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There were many interesting aspects to the Dallas Cowboys' 33-20 win over the New York Giants at the New Meadowlands. Jason Garrett's debut as the team's head coach featured three touchdown passes from backup quarterback Jon Kitna(notes), another great day from rookie receiver Dez Bryant(notes), outstanding games from inside linebackers Keith Brooking(notes) and Bradie James(notes), and a 101-yard interception return for a touchdown by rookie cornerback Bryan McCann(notes).

And according to the SMU product, the targeted receiver -- Giants star wideout Hakeem Nicks(notes) -- is easier to read than anything on certain routes. After the game, McCann told Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Nicks jukes at the line on inside cuts, and runs flat-out from the line on fade routes.

"As soon as he came off the line he was shaking, shaking, shaking," McCann said, "and I knew immediately he wasn't trying to get the fade, because if he was he would have had to go right off the line. So I just jumped inside and was able to make the play."

Well, that's something Nicks will want to work on. If a rookie who was originally cut by the Cowboys and Ravens can track his routes that easily, the word is now out, and times may get a bit harder for the standout receiver.

Here's the play in question:

You can see Nicks' stutter on the slant (which probably should have been a crossing route), and McCann jumping the play; now you know how it happened. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin added insult to insult by insinuating that Nicks quit on the route. "He stopped to run the slant,'' Coughlin told the Dallas Morning News. "You can't do that. You have to continue to run the route, run through the defenders, do whatever you have to do.

"That's a basic principle. If you've got the slant called, you've got to run the slant.''

It's also a basic principle to not give up your routes before you quit on them. Something tells me that Nicks will have a few teaching points this week as the Giants prepare for a Sunday Night game in Philadelphia.

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