4:25 PM ET, November 24, 2013
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
The New York Giants aren't apologizing for the fact that their four-game win streak has come against backup quarterbacks.
The Dallas Cowboys are hoping a week off will help the league's worst defense demonstrate some much-needed improvement.
These NFC East rivals seem to be headed in different directions going into Sunday's matchup at MetLife Stadium.
New York has taken advantage of a favorable four-game stretch to recover from a winless six-game start. The Giants (4-6) played Josh Freeman making his Minnesota debut in a 23-7 victory Oct. 21 and knocked out Michael Vick and were up against rookie Matt Barkley for most of a 15-7 win over Philadelphia the next week before their bye.
More good fortune continued as they took advantage of a hobbled Terrelle Pryor in a 24-20 victory over Oakland on Nov. 10 before last Sunday's 27-13 win over Green Bay, which gave Scott Tolzien his first career start. Now New York will see a proven starter in Tony Romo.
"People can say we haven't faced the best quarterbacks, but we don't get much props for shutting down the top running backs, either," linebacker Jon Beason said. "To me, it all depends on how you want to spin it. Guys are going to say you haven't played anybody, but we know how hard it is to win in this league."
There's no way to spin how bad Dallas (5-5) has been defensively. The Cowboys are yielding an NFL-worst 456.7 yards per game, and a low point came in their 49-17 loss at New Orleans on Nov. 10.
Linebacker Sean Lee was lost to a hamstring injury in the first quarter and the Cowboys were horrendous, surrendering an NFL-record 40 first downs and 625 yards -- two more than the franchise record set two weeks earlier in Detroit.
"I just didn't expect this," owner Jerry Jones said. "I never saw this coming."
The Cowboys have already allowed a league-record four 400-yard passers, and it may be surprising that Eli Manning is one of them.
Manning is enduring a difficult season with a passer rating of 70.8, his lowest since his rookie season. But his best effort came when he was 27 of 42 for 450 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions in a season-opening 36-31 loss at Dallas in which New York committed six turnovers.
"Our expectations were extremely high and we had, quite frankly, just kind of wrapped it up and handed it to them," coach Tom Coughlin said. "That was the devastation of it for me."
That was part of New York's terrible start, and the team has more confidence now.
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had a 24-yard interception return for a TD last weekend, was coming off offseason back surgery in that game. He spoke of beating the Cowboys this week, saying the Giants were "going to put it on them," among other things.
"He's supposed to feel that way," Dallas receiver Dez Bryant said. "You're an opponent. We're an opponent for them. It's great confidence."
Bryant will try to avoid a season-high third straight game without a touchdown, and he's gone four in a row against the Giants without reaching the end zone.
Romo will have one of his weapons back in Miles Austin, who hasn't caught a pass since Sept. 22 while being out with a hamstring injury.
"He can be a very difficult matchup for opposing defenses because he's a big guy who's also quick and explosive," coach Jason Garrett said. "So we try to use him appropriately and he'll certainly help the other guys out just having his presence out there."
The Cowboys will see one of their nemeses in Brandon Jacobs, who re-signed with New York on Sept. 10 -- two days after the opener. His 617 rushing yards against Dallas lead all active players.
"I didn't have an opportunity to play against them in Week 1 and all of last year, so I'm really looking forward to the opportunity," Jacobs said.
Coughlin's big concern is that the Giants have committed a league-high 29 turnovers while the Cowboys have forced 22 to tie for the NFL's fourth-best mark. Dallas has also committed an NFC-low 11 turnovers.
Both teams are trying to catch the first-place Eagles, who lead Dallas by one-half game and New York by 1 1/2.
"I can honestly say that we don't like each other and it shows up on the football field so I think it's going to be another one of those drag-out type of games where you get in for four quarters and try to find a way to win it," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said.
The Cowboys, 1-4 on the road, haven't swept the series since winning twice in 2007. They lost in the playoffs that season to the Giants, who went on to win the Super Bowl.
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New York Giants
|Avg Points Allowed||25.4||25.5|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||DAL|
|Rush Yds Allowed||DAL|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|NY Giants leads 15-12|
|Sep 8, 2013||DAL 36, NYG 31|
|Oct 28, 2012||DAL 24, NYG 29|
|Sep 5, 2012||DAL 24, @NYG 17|
|Jan 1, 2012||DAL 14, @NYG 31|
|Dec 11, 2011||DAL 34, NYG 37|
|Nov 14, 2010||DAL 33, @NYG 20|
|Oct 25, 2010||DAL 35, NYG 41|
|Dec 6, 2009||DAL 24, @NYG 31|
|Sep 20, 2009||DAL 31, NYG 33|
|Dec 14, 2008||DAL 20, NYG 8|
|Nov 2, 2008||DAL 14, @NYG 35|
|Jan 13, 2008||DAL 17, NYG 21|
|Nov 11, 2007||DAL 31, @NYG 20|
|Sep 9, 2007||DAL 45, NYG 35|
|Dec 3, 2006||DAL 23, @NYG 20|
|Oct 23, 2006||DAL 22, NYG 36|
|Dec 4, 2005||DAL 10, @NYG 17|
|Oct 16, 2005||DAL 16, NYG 13|
|Jan 2, 2005||DAL 24, @NYG 28|
|Oct 10, 2004||DAL 10, NYG 26|
|Dec 21, 2003||DAL 19, NYG 3|
|Sep 15, 2003||DAL 7, @NYG 7|
|Dec 15, 2002||DAL 7, @NYG 37|
|Oct 6, 2002||DAL 17, NYG 21|
|Dec 9, 2001||DAL 20, NYG 13|
|Nov 4, 2001||DAL 24, @NYG 27|
The Cowboys averaged a season-high 6.2 yards per rush Sunday (excluding kneel downs), and Tony Romo took advantage. Romo was 8-of-11 for 111 yards and a touchdown off play action. Although the Giants ran 10 more times and averaged a half-yard more per rush (6.7), Eli Manning went only 3-of-7 off play action.
Tony Romo went 3-of-3 on third down on the Cowboys' game-winning drive Sunday. Romo had only six first downs on his last 31 third-down attempts since Week 8 prior to the drive. - Romo converted both his third-down attempts to Bryant on the final drive Sunday. Romo had targeted Bryant on only four of his last 31 attempts on third down.[+]
ESPN Stats & Information