By Shawn Clarke, Contributing NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) – Just because the Dallas Cowboys are coming off one of
their biggest wins in recent years doesn’t mean they can overlook the NFC
East-rival New York Giants Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
The Cowboys shocked the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, 30-23,
in their own building last weekend to remain atop the division standings with
a 5-1 record. Philadelphia is also 5-1 and has the bye this weekend.
Dallas racked up 401 yards of offense and held the Seahawks to 206 yards,
including just 80 on the ground. Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch carried
the ball 10 times for 61 yards and quarterback Russell Wilson completed 14 of
his 28 passes for 126 yards and a costly interception. Cowboys linebacker
Rolando McClain came up with the game-sealing pick.
“The guys did a great job of getting off the field,” Cowboys defensive
coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “We had a good, solid rush. But the secondary
was great. We did a really good job of covering on the back line. That’s a
really good offense but we did a great job of being disciplined. That’s what
we talked about all week.”
The Cowboys were able to overcome two turnovers for their fifth straight win
and the last time they were 6-1 was 2007 (12-1). Another win would give head
coach Jason Garrett his longest winning streak with the team. It would be the
longest run since a seven-gamer in that 2007 campaign.
New York did some trash talking before Sunday night’s road game against the
Eagles and even congregated on their logo prior to the game.
What happened after that left the Giants humbled and speechless, as
Philadelphia destroyed them to the tune of 27-0 on national television. The
offense produced 254 yards to the Eagles’ 448 and Giants quarterback Eli
Manning was sacked six times. The Eagles had eight total sacks.
Manning completed 13-of-23 passes for 151 yards with no touchdowns or
interceptions. He has thrown for just 300 yards once this season for the
Giants, who had won three straight games and scored 30 or more points in those
victories. Now the Giants face a Dallas team allowing 21.0 points per game.
“We worry about this upcoming game. We are playing in Dallas,” Manning said.
“They are playing great football. It is in the division. This is a big one for
us. After this (we) have a bye week, so there is no point in looking ahead to
anything else besides this one game and this is a big one for us.”
The Giants actually have a chance to pull off a win in Big D as long as the
offensive line plays cohesive football. Manning has been sacked at least once
(13 total) in every game. Right tackle Justin Pugh said the performance by the
O-line was a “nightmare” after playing so well in the previous three games.
Pugh said it was “probably the worst game I’ve ever played.”
Sunday’s game in Dallas will be New York’s third in division play, as it
destroyed Washington, 45-14, on Sept. 25 before losing in south Philly.
The Cowboys lead the all-time series with New York by a 59-42-2 advantage and
have won two straight and three of the last four meetings. However, the G-men
are 4-1 in AT&T Stadium since the venue opened in 2009.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
There will be a DeMarco Murray sighting on Sunday. The NFL’s leading rusher
with 785 yards also has a league-best six touchdown runs and 159 carries.
Murray is first with 130.8 rushing yards per game thanks to running for 100
yards every time he plays.
His lowest carry total was 22 in a Week 1 loss, but that was before the
Cowboys decided to lead the league in rushing, which they do with 160.3 ypg.
“I’m just concentrating on doing my job so I can help this team win,” Murray
said when asked about a heavy workload. “Whatever they ask me to do, like I’ve
said, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.”
Murray, who owns 391 yards from scrimmage (303 rushing) in the past three
games against the Giants, joined Hall of Famer and NFL legend Jim Brown as the
only players to rush for more than 100 yards in the first six games. He has a
chance to pass Brown because New York is 18th against the rush, allowing 116.3
ypg. Eagles running back LeSean McCoy had 149 yards on 22 carries Sunday.
Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was asked how to stop Murray.
“You’ve got to play the run. We’ve got to play the run to our best ability and
trust our guys,” he said. “Trust that we are going to be in the right spots
and in our right fits.”
Dallas will be without offensive tackle Doug Free for the next three to four
weeks with a fracture in his foot. Free went down against the Seahawks and
Jeremy Parnell is expected to step in as the starter. Murray ran for a
touchdown in Seattle behind Parnell and tight end Jason Witten, so there may
not be a dropoff as far as run blocking goes.
“Well, Jermey did a real nice job. He didn’t play many plays in the game but
he played some important ones,” Garrett said. “He’s been dealing with a rib
injury and hasn’t been able to practice much the last two days. He came in and
responded well to the situation.”
The Cowboys signed Tony Hills away from Miami’s practice squad this week.
New York lost talented wide receiver Victor Cruz to a devastating knee injury
in the loss to the Eagles and is expecting rookie wideout Odell Beckham, Jr.
to take his game to the next level.
Beckham missed the start of the season with a hamstring injury and has 72
yards and a touchdown on six catches in two games. The LSU product can stretch
the field with his speed and Manning is confident in Beckham’s abilities.
“Odell, he’s had two good weeks and he’s done a lot of good things,” Manning
said. “He’s made a lot of plays and run good routes and done all of the right
things. I’ve got confidence in him. He has the ability to make some plays for
The Giants added wideout Kevin Ogletree this week for depth.
Tight end Larry Donnell was the talk of the town a few weeks ago, but he’s
fallen off the face of the Earth. Donnell had three TD catches on seven
receptions at Washington on Sept. 25, but has a total of six yards on one
catch in the past two games.
There are probably several pundits out there who think the Giants will waltz
into AT&T Stadium and steal one from the Cowboys. They’re entitled to that
prognostication, but in reality the Cowboys won’t lose this one at home.
Dallas’ defense has stepped up this season from the debacle a year ago, and
both Murray and Tony Romo are carrying the offense. Don’t sleep on Dallas WRs
Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams either because they’ll do damage.
New York is still picking up the pieces of the shutout loss in Philadelphia
and the injury to Cruz. They will need the upcoming bye to figure it all out.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Cowboys 21, Giants 13