Looking for separation in the NFC East, the Giants’ visit to Cowboys Stadium on Monday night tasks the G-Men with two significant opponents: Dallas’ explosive offense and their desperation to mend a crumbling season (8:30 p.m., ESPN).
The Cowboys (1-4) are a talented team with a propensity for hazardous blunders when the game is on the line. Turnovers and penalties have soiled the efforts of the ’Boys’ third-ranked offense.
Riding a three-game win streak, the Giants (4-2) have shaken some of their early struggles with discipline and execution, restoring their confidence before their first divisional game this season.
Opportunities always present against Dallas
Whether it’s a holding call to nullify a potential game-tying touchdown, a flag for excessive celebration following a score or a multiple-interception performance by Tony Romo, the Cowboys find creative ways to tie the bow after gift-wrapping a game. With a little bit of patience, Big Blue’s No. 2-ranked defense can secure their second road win against a team that finds ways to lose.
Prolific and prohibitive
Romo’s 220 passing yards in last week’s loss in Minnesota was the first time he threw for fewer than 250 yards this season. He’s thrown a touchdown in every game this season, with eight in his last three games. But, he’s also thrown five picks in his last two games, including a three-interception meltdown against Tennessee. With Big Blue’s pass rush and five different defensive backs nabbing the team’s seven picks, Romo’s inaccuracy under duress bodes well for the Giants’ secondary.
The special teams schemes
For two consecutive weeks, the Cowboys were deflated following momentum-shifting kick returns. Percy Harvin’s 95-yard touchdown sparked Minnesota’s 17-point second half, and Marc Mariani’s 73-yard scurry set up the Titans’ game-winning score a week prior. Special teams coach Tom Quinn should look to create open space for returner Darius Reynaud against Dallas’ league-worst kick coverage, allowing an average of 32.9 yards per return with only three touchbacks.
Racing to the quarterback
More impressive than Osi Umenyiora’s seven sacks in his last three games are the six fumbles he’s forced after beating offensive tackles soundly. His eight sacks on the season lead the G-Men, tied for second in the NFL with 21 total. The last time Dallas faced an efficient pass-rushing team, they allowed the league-leading Titans (24 sacks) to get to Romo six times during a 34-27 loss. The fact that Romo’s only been sacked seven times this season is a testament to his elusiveness, not to the protection.