EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — While the New York Giants’ defense has been the catalyst in their amazing comeback from a dismal 0-6 start, there were concerns after last week’s win over the Green Bay Packers.
The biggest was the secondary. Scott Tolzien completed five passes of 25 yards and 10 of 15 yards or more in his first NFL start. It wasn’t enough to prevent the Giants (4-6) from posting a 27-13 win, but it wasn’t encouraging.
In their previous nine games, the Giants had allowed 11 pass plays of 25 yards or more all season.
If Tolzien could torch the secondary, imagine what Tony Romo and the Cowboys (5-5) will do on Sunday. The veteran quarterback has 12 touchdowns and three interceptions in his past four starts in New Jersey.
The defense has to step up — especially in a game being coined the Giants’ regular-season Super Bowl. If they lose to Dallas, that improbable NFC East comeback will be all but kaput.
“You just have to hope he has a bad day,” Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said of Romo on Thursday. “We’ve got a great deal of respect for Tony. … It seems like he has more control of the offense than he has in the past.”
Fewell said Tolzien made a couple of outstanding passes on the long gains, and there was a breakdown by the safety on a post move. Fewell took the blame for a 52-yard bomb to Jerrett Boykin, saying he did not prepare Trumaine McBride well enough for a double move, a play the Packers ran with success against New York the previous season.
“Do I want to have that number of big plays, hell, no!” Fewell said. “We’re trying to do a better job of making sure we research and give them all the moves these guys will employ against us, so we don’t have big plays this week.”
Cornerback Terrell Thomas said the Packers have quality receivers, such as Jordy Nelson, who did a good job in winning the one-on-one battles. He said they deserve some credit and the defensive backs need to work a little harder this week.
“The good news for us is that the big plays only resulted in 10 points,” Thomas said. “We’re still upset about giving up a touchdown because we have the mindset if they don’t score, we win. We have to get better and better each week and this game gave us something to work on.”
The Cowboys are loaded at receiver. Dez Bryant leads the team with 52 catches for 749 yards and eight touchdowns. Tight end Jason Witten has also beat up the Giants annually and Romo is supposedly getting Miles Austin back from a hamstring injury this week. Rookie Terrance Williams has a touchdown catch in five of his last six games.
The big threats are Bryant and Witten.
“I think you can go out there and do whatever job you have to do,” safety Antrel Rolle said. “Both are phenomenal athletes and phenomenal players. Obviously they’re serious threats, but at the same time I think if you go out there and play your defense, I think you can go out there and do whatever it is that you want to do.”
In the other game against Dallas this season, Romo hit 39 of 49 passes for 263 yards, electing to get rid of the ball quickly against the Giants’ pass rush. Austin had 10 catches for 72 yards to lead Dallas and Witten caught eight passes, including two touchdowns.
“It all depends on what you’re seeing coverage-wise and the way they’re going to play certain situational football,” Romo said. “I think the Packers are a pretty explosive offense and they’ve got the ability to do some of those things. You’d like to think that we have that ability. So if the opportunities are there, you have to take advantage.”
Cornerback Prince Amukamara is the Giants’ top cover man, but Fewell doesn’t move him from side to side to stay with Bryant. He will mix it up from time to time.
“We just have to cover the receivers like a glove,” safety Will Hill said. “You have to disguise. You have to get to the quarterback, hit him and knock him around a little bit. You have to stay in his face and block the windows that he throws to.”
NOTES: Everyone on the Giants practiced in some capacity. … Hakeem Nicks reiterated Thursday that he is not frustrated in a season where he has yet to catch a touchdown. “I am not frustrated,” Nicks said. “I read stuff about them saying me being kind of frustrated. That’s not my character. That’s not me. I am a team player. I know my role. I play it well. Other than that, that’s that.”
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