EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Throw out the fact that the Dallas Cowboys own the worst record in the NFC East, occupying the basement with a 1-4 record.
The New York Giants, Dallas’ opponent Monday night, simply don’t want to hear it. They don’t look at the Cowboys as cellar dwelling also-rans, no matter what the standings say. They still have all the respect in the world for their divisional rivals … seriously.
“They have a lot of outstanding personnel to worry about,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Thursday. “They’re big and strong and come off the ball very well. They have a lot of playmakers. Every weekend, there’s a difficult game in this league. Dallas is a good football team no matter what their record is.”
The 4-2 Giants, fresh off their 28-20 win over Detroit at home last Sunday, don’t want to think that they can permanently put the Cowboys in the rear view mirror with a win on the road. They are more concerned with their three-game winning streak, and how to add to it.
“We’re excited to be playing our first divisional game and that’s how we look at it, Coughlin said. “It’s an important game because it’s a divisional game. We’re not worried about records. They’re a good team.”
Quarterback Eli Manning concurs. Like coach, like quarterback, apparently.
“We know how talented they are,” he said. “We have to go out there to Dallas and play great football to beat them. They’re always dangerous. They have playmakers on both sides of the ball, guys who are game changers. I know they lost some close games. We just have to make sure to keep it close and go into the fourth quarter with a chance to win the game.”
Defensive tackle Chris Canty, who came from the Cowboys when he signed with the Giants as a free agent last year, didn’t want to talk about the Cowboys or his days with Dallas.
“I’m not looking forward to this game more than any other,” Canty said. “That team posts a tough challenge and we have to be ready. They’re a tough divisional opponent and we’re playing on the road. It’s a great challenge. It’s only the first game in the division for us. Any talk of putting them away is nonsense. It’s way too early. There’s a lot of football to be played.”
Canty was asked if he could help in the preparation for Dallas, considering he spent four years with the team.
“I can show our guys some different things they do, some little things here and there,” Canty said. “I’m sure I can help in that respect.”
The Giants, clearly, are saying all the right things, but the fact remains the Cowboys lost to Minnesota, 24-21, last Sunday, and are on the brink of a disastrous season. But this is a home game, after all, played out in front of a national television audience, and if Dallas has anything left in the tank, expect to see it.
“I don’t care what their record is,” Giants defensive back Antrel Rolle said. “They’re a great football team. Why aren’t they winning? I don’t know. But I’m not worried about them being desperate and looking to save their season. I’m worried about us winning. Their record doesn’t affect the way we’re going to play. I’m expecting a battle and looking forward to a battle. Whether their status makes them dangerous, I don’t know. I know people say their backs are to the wall and they have something to prove. That doesn’t change what we do. They can be desperate all they want.”
Rolle isn’t even looking at the standings just yet.
“Even if they are 1-4, you can’t go on a team’s record,” he said. “You look at what they do and what they’re capable of doing. Sometimes, teams can turn the tables on you very quickly. We have to be ready.”
Fellow safety Kenny Phillips agreed.
“They have a lot of weapons,” Phillips said. “They’re still a great team and we have a lot of respect for them. Look at their depth chart. There aren’t a lot of teams that have as many talented players as they do. Sure, a lot of things haven’t gone their way, but we have to make sure they don’t turn it around against us. We can’t say that we will put them away. We want to win the division and that’s what we’re focused on.”
The Giants are tied with Philadelphia (4-2) atop the NFC East, one game ahead of Washington (3-3).
NOTES: Linebacker Keith Bulluck returned to practice Thursday and may be able to play Monday. … DE Mathias Kiwanuka said that he is feeling better, but there’s no timetable on his return from a bulging disc. “I’m trying to see every specialist in this area and across the country,” said Kiwanuka, who said he has visited six different doctors for their opinions on his injury. “I’m grateful that some doctor saw the severity of my situation, because it could have saved my life and my career. I just can’t go back and play right away, because I could be one hit away from paralysis.” … Kiwanuka would like to contact paralyzed Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand: “It’s something I’d like to do in the near future.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.