Cowboys must overcome adversity
Dallas should look to the Giants to see how to win big -- despite key injuries
IRVING, Texas -- Leave it to Jerry Jones to give himself some wiggle room on whether the Cowboys are a team that can contend for a Super Bowl.
Mind you, Jones' definition of contending for a Super Bowl is simply making the playoffs, which is something those who scoff at Jones' comment often miss. But Wednesday, he reminded everybody that there was a caveat to his belief in his team: injuries.
"Healthwise, injury can make a difference and does in the NFL," Jones said.
So the Cowboys lose Sean Lee for the season because of a toe injury, and Jones brings out the injury card? Oh, DeMarco Murray will likely miss his second straight game Sunday against the New York Giants with a foot injury. Felix Jones has a bruised knee. DeMarcus Ware hasn't practiced for two days because he's sick. Other guys are banged up, too.
Jones did not wave the white flag, but he at least gave the team an out if a 3-3 record turns into a disaster.
Jones' comment is an indictment on how he constructed the roster because players get hurt, but good teams can lose good players -- even as good as Lee -- and still win big.
All Jones has to do is look down from his private perch inside Cowboys Stadium on Sunday and see the Giants.
The Giants did not have defensive end Chris Canty until last week because of a knee injury. Safety Kenny Phillips has been hurt. So has defensive tackle Rocky Bernard. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks has missed games with a sore foot. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw has a sore foot, too. They have moved guys around on the offensive line. They won't have cornerback Terrell Thomas all season because of a knee injury.
The Giants are 5-2 and look like a Super Bowl team. Again.
The Cowboys should be envious of what the Giants have accomplished in the past five years. Some believe New York has twice taken playoff runs from the Cowboys that should have been theirs.
Does New York defensive end Justin Tuck think the Cowboys might be jealous of the Giants' success?
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"You'd have to ask them," he said. "I don't know. It's hard to be jealous when everyone loves you. You're America's Team."
"You can take it for what it's worth, but it's somewhat true," Tuck said. "I don't think it's sarcasm when there's a truth aspect in it."
When it comes to the toughest times, New York shows resolve. The Cowboys' owner and general manager cites injuries.
Even Tuck is unsure as to why the Giants handle adversity so well.
"I don't know how to answer that question," Tuck said. "I don't. That's kind of funny being here and seeing it."
Part of it is having demonstrated the ability to handle adversity in the past.
The Giants can call on their Super Bowl runs of 2007 and 2011. Players like Tuck, Eli Manning, Bradshaw, Chris Snee, Mathias Kiwanuka, Corey Webster and Osi Umenyiora were there for both. They know not to panic. Victor Cruz, Nicks, Antrel Rolle and Prince Amukamara were there last season.
"They are your rallying point, too," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "They're the guys you go to and continue to have them stay focused on because they've been with you before down that road in big games."
The Cowboys have had some signature wins -- San Francisco last year in overtime, an undefeated New Orleans in 2009, Green Bay in 2007 for the best record in the NFC -- but they can't point to the biggest success like New York can.
More often than not, the Cowboys have experienced failure when it mattered most: against the Giants in the 2007 divisional round of the playoffs, in the season finale at Philadelphia in 2008 after losing the final game at Texas Stadium to Baltimore, and in the de facto NFC East title game to the Giants last January at MetLife Stadium.
"We the Cowboys, they the Giants," defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "We're going to figure it out our way. We're not going to try to play nobody's else's way. We're going to find a way to do it."
Do you believe?