ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSNewYork/AP) — Eli Manning and the New York Giants keep leaving their mark at Cowboys Stadium.
The quarterback’s signature that he scribbled on a wall in the visitors locker room after winning the first regular-season game played there has long since been covered by paint. But the Giants are still unblemished at Jerry Jones’ $1.2 billion football palace that opened in 2009.
“It won’t be on my mind at all. I don’t care that they won every single time,” Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware said. “We have to find a way to beat them, and win the game this time.”
Like Dallas (3-3) did in the NFL’s kickoff game Sept. 5. Ware will be looking to disrupt Manning’s rhythm on Sunday by breaking through the Giants’ stout offensive line.
If their 3-0 record at Cowboys Stadium isn’t enough motivation for the NFC East-leading Giants (5-2), there is that season-opening loss for the defending Super Bowl champions before they won five of their next six games.
“When you have the opportunity to play a team again, you want to go out there and have a better performance, since you lost. We feel that we can play better than we did the first time,” Manning said. “We know they’re talented. If we’re going to move the ball and score points, we’re going to have to earn everything. … We’ve just got to execute better than we did the last time.”
The Cowboys didn’t have nose tackle Jay Ratliff and cornerback Mike Jenkins in their 24-17 win to start the season.
But this time, they don’t have linebacker and leading tackler Sean Lee, who was put on injured reserve this week with a big toe injury. And they likely will be without running back DeMarco Murray, who ran 131 yards in the opener. He has a sprained right foot that forced him to miss the last game.
When the Cowboys won that game at MetLife Stadium nearly two months ago, it should have been a big boost — especially after ending their 2011 season with a loss at the same place, a game the Giants won to clinch the division title and NFC’s final playoff spot with nine wins. New York went on to win its second Super Bowl in five years.
Instead, Dallas is still just a distinctly average team.
The two games the Cowboys have won since have been offensive struggles, scoring only one touchdown in each while being held under 20 points. That includes the 19-14 win at Carolina last weekend, which put their regular-season record since the start of the 1997 season at 123-123.
“Again, it’s the Giants. They’re the world champs. They’re our next opponent,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We have great respect for them. Cowboys Stadium, MetLife Stadium, the Meadowlands, the parking lot or on the moon, we just got to go play our best football.”
Victor Cruz, who had the decisive 77-yard catch in last week’s division win over Washington, said playing the Cowboys is always a big game.
And they feel like they have worked out the kinks that they were still dealing with when they opened the season against Dallas.
“We’re playing some good football now. … We’ve got a ton of confidence coming into this one,” Cruz said. “I think offensively we’re at a better place. We’re understanding things a lot more. Everybody’s on the same page. … We know it’s not going to be easy. Dallas is never an easy game for us. We’ve just got to come out firing.”
Manning has done that in Arlington. He has thrown for 1,036 yards with eight touchdowns in his three games at Cowboys Stadium, where he has been sacked only one time.
The two-time Super Bowl MVP is also set to start his 127th consecutive regular-season game, the longest current streak by a quarterback. Romo is the seventh starting quarterback in Dallas since Manning became a starter eight years ago.
“It seems like he just keeps getting better,” Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer said. ‘ He executes, he doesn’t really put his team at risk, he doesn’t turn the ball over. He’s what you really want to have at quarterback.”
Ware has 106 career sacks, and the quarterback he’s gotten to the most is Manning with 12 1/2. That included two sacks in the opener.
“There is no give-up in Eli. He is relentless. He plays with the tenacity of a defensive player,” Ware said. “He is not a running quarterback. He knows how to move in the pocket and string plays out. He is very savvy in the pocket.”
And he’s still undefeated at Cowboys Stadium.
Can Manning keep his streak at Cowboys Stadium going? Let us hear your thoughts below…
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