NFL Preview - NY Giants (5-2) at Dallas (3-3)|
By Shawn Clarke, Contributing NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - The New York Giants have been waiting almost two months for
this: a revenge game with the despised NFC East-rival Dallas Cowboys.
Cowboys well-known owner Jerry Jones got the trash talk started at the end of
the preseason by urging fans to "come to Cowboys Stadium and watch us beat the
The game was played at MetLife Stadium, where the Cowboys escaped with a 24-17
victory behind three touchdown passes from Tony Romo. Now Romo and the Cowboys
will welcome the defending Super Bowl champions to the Lone Star State for a
Sunday afternoon showdown.
New York hasn't forgotten about that Week 1 loss.
"Obviously Dallas beat us the first game of the season, so we are definitely
looking for get-back," Giants safety Antrel Rolle told the Newark Star-Ledger.
"We're definitely looking for some get-back at this point in time."
Speaking of getting back, the Giants have won three in a row and five of six
games since their season-opening loss to the Cowboys and sit alone in first
place in the NFC East. Rolle admitted on New York's popular radio station WFAN
that the Cowboys "were the better team" back on Sept. 5, but added that the
Giants will be ready.
"We're gonna go play our game, we're gonna play very efficient, very confident
and we're going out there ready to be some head-busters."
The Giants avoided an 0-3 hole in division play with an exciting 27-23 home
victory versus the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Eli Manning continued to
establish himself as one of the elite quarterbacks in the game by hooking up
with Victor Cruz on 77-yard touchdown pass with 1:13 remaining in the game.
The go-ahead score came moments after Washington grabbed the lead on a 30-yard
scoring strike from Robert Griffin III to Santana Moss.
New York linebacker Chase Blackburn forced a Moss fumble on Washington's final
drive of the game to seal the win.
"I was making a hit, and once I had him wrapped, I felt the ball," Blackburn
said after making a team-high 11 tackles and forcing a huge turnover. "I could
feel it in there and I was just trying to rip it out at that point."
New York is hoping to improve to 6-2 for a second straight year, but it has
been well documented what happened after its eighth game of the season a year
ago. The team lost four straight and five of six games to fall out of
contention, before ripping off six straight wins, including the Super Bowl.
The Giants are looking super right now and are once again one of the top teams
in the NFC. Their offense has been top notch and Manning is on pace for
another breakout campaign. He has rallied the Giants from a fourth quarter
deficit or tie to win 22 times in the regular season and has accomplished the
feat twice already in 2012. Sunday's pass attack accumulated 329 yards, the
second-most since a franchise-record 510 yards versus Tampa Bay in Week 2.
Manning, who has been sacked just five times this season, has thrown for an
NFL-high 2,109 yards so far for a Giants team second in total yards (411.6)
and third in passing yards (295.3) per game. New York also is averaging 29.3
points per game, fourth in the NFL.
Meanwhile, the next few weeks will be challenging ones for Dallas. With the
Giants, Falcons and Eagles on the upcoming slate, the Cowboys could be staring
at last place in the division by mid-November.
Dallas played down to the level of the Carolina Panthers in Sunday's 19-14
road win, and could have easily put away the hosts in the first half. But the
defense surrendered 112 rushing yards to keep the game close and recorded a
pair of field goals late in the game to improve to 3-3. Dan Bailey was a
perfect 4-for-4 on field goals Sunday, one week after missing a chance to
defeat the Ravens.
"Last week was tough," Bailey said. "It's just a tough situation. It's kind of
hard to swallow sometimes. But it was good to go out there this week, and when
the opportunities came up, I was able to put them through."
Romo had just one touchdown pass and the Dallas ground attack recorded only 85
total yards. Luckily for the stagnant offense, the defense came prepared and
posted two sacks of Cam Newton, who was picked off once and had five passes
tipped. Rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne had the first interception of his
career and ended with a pair of deflected passes. The INT also was the first
for the Cowboys' defense.
Claiborne has another challenge ahead with Manning in town, but knows the team
has confidence in his skill set.
"They felt like I'd be a good addition to this team to come in and be able to
make plays," Claiborne said. "I just try to hold my end up."
Dallas is third against the pass, allowing 187.3 yards per game, and has been
faced with strong aerial attacks all season, especially in matchups with
Seattle, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Baltimore and Carolina. Middle linebacker Sean
Lee received some bad news and will miss the rest of the season with a toe
injury that will require surgery.
Lee will most likely be replaced by college teammate Dan Connor. Connor, a
former Penn State standout, has played a limited role with the Cowboys since
coming over from Carolina. Dallas also signed linebacker Ernie Sims.
"Everyone's got to pick up the slack," Connor said of losing Lee. "You know,
it's going to be hard to replace a guy like that. He's unreplaceable. But a
lot of guys are going to have to step in different positions and try to pick
up the slack for him."
Lee currently leads the Cowboys in tackles with 58 on the season, and an MRI
on the toe revealed structural damage.
Despite the loss in Week 1, the Giants still have prevailed in seven of the
past 10 meetings with the Cowboys. New York has won its last three trips to
Cowboys Stadium and handed Dallas its first-ever loss at the new facility back
in Sept. 2009.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
When players such as Lawrence Taylor, Mike Singletary or Derrick Thomas depart
the game, it leaves many to wonder if there will ever be one just like them.
The Cowboys, at least, haven't had to worry about finding a dominant defensive
force because they have DeMarcus Ware. Ware is the preeminent pass rusher in
the game and second in the NFL with 6 1/2 sacks. He has at least a half sack
in four straight games and put Manning on his back twice in Week 1. Ware has
to be accounted for on all downs, and probably can get inside a QBs head from
In 15 career meetings with the Giants, Ware has 12 1/2 sacks. That's the
second-highest total to his 15 1/2 sacks against Philadelphia. Ware can come
from the outside and even bull-rush his way through the middle. Either way,
New York's offensive line and running backs have to know where Ware is. Ware
owns an NFL-best 98 sacks since 2006.
The Giants hope to get Ahmad Bradshaw off and running early on Sunday against
Ware and the Cowboys, who are allowing 105.0 rushing yards per game. The
Giants only ran for 68 yards against the Redskins after totaling 392 yards in
the previous two games. The 68 yards against Washington was the second-lowest
total of the season (57 yards at Eagles). Bradshaw, who is still bothered by a
foot ailment, gained 43 yards rushing versus the 'Skins after collecting 316
in the past two games.
"We knew that they'd keep the safety down and tried to stop us from running
and that had kind of stopped us," Bradshaw said. "So we figured we could just
throw it over their head and try to beat the safeties."
Like Bradshaw said, the G-men also can air it out with Manning and his top two
receivers in Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. That could be a problem since Dallas is
third in pass defense, allowing 187.3 ypg. Nicks seems to still be banged up,
but that's no excuse to exclude him from the defensive gameplan. Former
Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett scored in his first rematch with the team.
Dallas might not have running back DeMarco Murray, who ran for 131 yards
against the Giants in Week 1, for a second straight week due to a foot injury
and Felix Jones is nicked up, too, with a balky knee. If both are not 100
percent, Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar will share the carries.
That means Romo will have to beat the defense with his arm. The Cowboys are
seventh in passing yards (277.2), while New York is 21st in pass defense
(253.3). Washington had no trouble moving the football against the Giants, so
maybe Garrett will use that as a blueprint for Sunday. Don't expect Cowboys
wide receiver Kevin Ogletree to have the type of performance he had in the
first meeting, as he posted career highs of eight catches for 114 yards and
two TD receptions.
The Cowboys may not have starting center Phil Costa because he suffered a
right ankle injury in Carolina. Costa needed an MRI and it's unlikely he'll be
able to get back to work once the swelling goes down.
"When that injury happened during the game everybody was concerned as he was
being carted off," Garrett said Monday. "I didn't get a great look at what
happened, but it didn't look good. Sure enough, by the end of the night last
night and by today we are a little more optimistic. It's a significant
Ryan Cook is Dallas' top candidate to take over at center and saw action in
the season opener when Costa tweaked his back. Dallas' offensive line must
keep tabs on Jason Pierre-Paul, who has three sacks in the past two games.
Cook made it clear that staying strong up front is important against the likes
of Osi Umenyiora and Chris Canty, who did not play in the first meeting.
Hearts will be heavy for the Cowboys after the recent death of Jones' mother,
Arminta. She celebrated her 90th birthday last week and there's no better way
to commemorate her loss than to defeat the rival Giants at home. New York,
however, is on a roll since losing to the Cowboys in the 2012 lid-lifter, but
will get knocked around Sunday. With New York's inability to run the ball
lately, look for the Cowboys to pin their ears back and rush Manning early and
often to get over the .500 mark.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cowboys 33, Giants 24
10/25 15:10:06 ET