The Dallas Cowboys are set to open their new $1.15 billion home against the New York Giants. They’re hoping the different surroundings don’t change the recent trend that developed between the NFC East rivals at the Cowboys’ former stadium.
New York and Dallas meet in the first game at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday night, with both teams looking to build on opening-week victories.
The Cowboys are leaving Texas Stadium after 37 years for the new state-of-the-art, retractable-roof facility in Arlington, and they hope that doesn’t spell the end of their recent home success against the Giants. Dallas won the last meeting at Texas Stadium 20-8 on Dec. 14, giving it three victories in the last four matchups there. The Cowboys have won four of the previous five meetings overall.
That December game marked perhaps the low point of the Giants’ season, as the Cowboys sacked Eli Manning(notes) eight times, intercepted him twice and limited him to 191 yards passing with no touchdowns.
Dallas, though, didn’t look nearly that formidable defensively in its opener. The Cowboys gave up 450 yards, their most in 36 games, to Tampa Bay last Sunday despite going on to win 34-21.
The yardage total was Dallas’ highest allowed in a victory in 52 games.
“We won’t reinvent the wheel,” linebacker Bradie James(notes) said. “We’ve just got to go out and play good defense, corral and populate the ball. … This is a copycat league. I’m sure they will try to do a couple of things the Bucs did. But the Giants are the Giants. They’re going to do what they know how to do, and they’re going to do it real well. It’s up to us to match their intensity and outplay them.”
The Cowboys overcame the poor defensive performance thanks to Tony Romo(notes), who threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns. Dallas rushed for 118 yards, led by Marion Barber(notes), who had 79 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
While the Cowboys won in spite of their defense last week, the Giants were impressive on that side of the ball in a 23-17 victory over Washington. They held the Redskins to 272 yards - 85 rushing - and forced two turnovers and got three sacks, including 1 1/2 by NFC defensive player of the week Justin Tuck(notes).
“Not only was it a W, but it was against an NFC East opponent,” Umenyiora said. “It was a great game.”
The Giants will try to get another such win this week, and they hope Manning can repeat his performance from the opener. The quarterback looked sharp in going 20 of 29 for 256 yards with one touchdown and one interception, completing passes to seven receivers.
“It shows he has confidence in any number of people,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “We were able to spread it around and get the backs involved. It’s a good thing.”
Another good thing for the Giants could be the activation of linebacker Michael Boley(notes) from the reserve-suspended list Tuesday. Signed as a free agent in the offseason and expected to start on the weak side, Boley was suspended for the opener by the league for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
New York also claimed rookie running back Gartrell Johnson(notes) off waivers from San Diego after third-string back Danny Ware(notes) was lost to a dislocated elbow last Sunday. Ware will miss at least two weeks.
The Cowboys’ new stadium was the source of some controversy during the preseason, when Titans punter A.J. Trapasso(notes) hit the giant video board Aug. 21. That caused the league to alter its playing rules, which now call for an immediate whistle and a replay of the down, with no time taken off the clock, should a ball hit the board.
The teams meet at Giants Stadium on Dec. 6.