Resurgent Giants Ready For Division Rival Cowboys
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By Curt Macysyn
It’s been a tale of two seasons thus far for the New York Giants. The G-men began the season with a six-game winless streak, and the franchise’s worst start since 1976. New York’s slide began with a sloppy opening night loss to the Dallas Cowboys in September, but the Giants hope to return the favor to the Cowboys when it matters most.
Meanwhile, it has been one step forward and two steps back for the Dallas Cowboys this year. The Cowboys seemingly had taken control of the weak NFC East with a decisive 17-3 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 7, but a nail-biting loss to Detroit was followed with a come-from-behind win at Minnesota, and only allowed Dallas to tread water.
But then the Cowboys were drubbed in prime time by the New Orleans Saints 49-17 to drop their record to 5-5, heading into their bye week, and the revitalized Philadelphia Eagles passed the ‘Boys this week in the NFC East standings. Now lying in wait are the New York Giants, who would like nothing better than to extend Jerry Jones’ misery another week.
And The Tony Goes To…
There is no more high profile position in sports than to be quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, and Tony Romo has held the position for eight seasons, so he must be doing something right. Romo has been criticized in the past for not being a clutch player because he has thrown interceptions at key moments for the Cowboys. But Romo has always had a high completion percentage. This season has been no different, Romo has completed 64.6 percent of his passes, which is on par with his career average of 64.7 percent and ranks him sixth in the NFL.
The Cowboys signal caller has thrown 21 touchdown passes this season and only six interceptions, which ranks him second only to Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs in fewest interceptions among the league’s full-time quarterbacks. Whether or not Romo is a “clutch player” will always be a matter of conjecture, but statistically, Romo holds his own as compared to his compatriots. Getting to Romo may help cause turnovers, but the Giants are last in the NFL in quarterback sacks with just 14 on the season.
Running back DeMarco Murray ranks 16th in the NFL with 548 rushing yards, despite missing two games with a knee injury. Murray boasts a 4.9 yards per carry average, which is second best only to Washington’s Alfred Morris among full-time running backs in the NFL. Murray had 86 yards on 20 carries in the season opener versus the Giants, but New York’s rush defense has been strong, allowing Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy just 27 yards rushing last week on 14 carries. The Giants front four appears to be getting stronger as the season wears on.
Perhaps Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant does not have access to a computer because the precocious receiver leads Dallas with 52 receptions and 752 receiving yards. Bryant has scored eight touchdowns on the season, which ranks him sixth in that category in the NFL. Ageless wonder Jason Witten has 47 receptions for 532 yards and four touchdowns. Witten always seems to save his best game for the Giants, but this week he will have to contend with rejuvenated Jon Beason patrolling the middle for New York.
Oft-injured Miles Austin worked with the first team at practice this week. Austin has missed half of the Cowboys games with a leg injury. As far as secret weapons are concerned, the Giants should be on the lookout for rookie receiver Terrance Williams. The third round draft pick from Baylor has 29 catches this year, with five touchdowns for the Cowboys.
Ware Has The Defense Gone?
The Cowboys rank dead last in the NFL in yards allowed per game with an average of 439.8 yards per contest. A porous pass defense gives up 313 yards per game, which also ranks at the very bottom of the NFL. But before the G-men start licking their chops, they will have to pass protect for Eli Manning better than they did last week, when the offensive line allowed four sacks to the Green Bay Packers.
DeMarcus Ware usually leads the Cowboys in sacks, but he has been dinged up this year and has missed three games. Ware did not have a sack in the first meeting with the G-men, but he did have an interception of Eli Manning and has five quarterback sacks in seven games this season. Team sack leader Jason Hatcher (7.0 sacks) missed the Cowboys last game against the Saints with a stinger, but is expected to play against New York.
Jason Pierre-Paul’s old college teammate, George Selvie, recorded a sack of Eli Manning in the season opener. Selvie, who is playing on his fourth team in five years, has started all 10 games for the Cowboys in 2013.
The Cowboys need a quick recovery by middle linebacker Sean Lee, who leads the team in tackles with 93 on the season. Lee pulled a hamstring last game against New Orleans, and early reports had him missing at least three weeks. But the bye week the Cowboys enjoyed this past week may have helped Lee recuperate faster and his practice status is worth checking later in the week. Lee also leads the team with four pass interceptions this year.
Dallas leads the all-time series, which began in 1960, between the two teams 58-43-2. The Giants and Cowboys are polar opposites in turnover ratio in 2013; Dallas is (+11) and the Giants are (-11). Eli Manning leads the NFL with 17 interceptions, and with another interception thrown by Curtis Painter, New York leads the league in interceptions thrown with 18 total.
The Cowboys were unable to contain Victor Cruz in the first meeting this year. Cruz had three touchdown grabs and 118 yards receiving against the Cowboys in Week 1.
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Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on Examiner.com.