The Cowboys welcome the defending Super Bowl champions to Dallas in a game that may end up deciding the course of their season.
When the Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants on September 5th in the season-opener at their house, I was sold on the Cowboys finally becoming a complete football team that could deliver in the clutch. Well folks, I was wrong. Instead of taking a dominant and emotional win and carrying that into the rest of their season, the Cowboys have fallen on hard times since.
The very next week, Dallas went to Seattle and got completely dominated in every facet of the game. Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Cowboys barely won a 16-10 game. The Chicago Bears came into Dallas on Monday Night Football and completely embarrassed the Cowboys (it didn't help that they repeatedly shot themselves in the foot).
I will give Dallas credit for their game in Baltimore. That was their best performance since beating the Giants over a month ago. Their win against the Panthers didn't exactly give the fan base a reinsurance either.
The Cowboys enter this game needing a win. If this team wants to get back into the NFC East race, then they need to beat the Giants at home. This won't be an easy task because the Giants are coming into Cowboys Stadium winners of their last three games. They are simply on fire right now and appear to be firing on all cylinders. That doesn't mean Dallas cannot beat them, it just means that the Giants are a better football team right now.
Eli Manning Loves Playing In Dallas
Eli Manning hasn't lost a game in Cowboys Stadium. His record stands at 3-0 and Manning has been playing some of his best football in the new stadium. Eli continues to grow as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and really he doesn't get the credit he deserves.
Regardless of how the Dallas fans feel about Eli Manning, you have to admit that playing against him is always a difficult challenge. He can make any throw on the field, and Eli makes it look easy. Eli is also very difficult to sack and bring down. The Cowboys need to get some pressure on him this time, but it's almost like I say that every single time the Cowboys play the Giants.
To put it simply, the Cowboys have done a terrible job of pressuring Eli Manning. The Cowboys rarely sack or even hit Manning during the course of the game.
The Eli Manning to Victor Cruz connection is in full swing right now too. Cruz has shutdown any thoughts of the "sophomore slump" he was supposed to have in his second season as the starting wide receiver for the Giants. Cruz has 50 receptions for 627 yards and 7 touchdowns, those are elite numbers for a guy who "only plays the slot".
Then there is the return of Martellus Bennett to Dallas and Cowboys Stadium. Bennett was a second round draft pick who never lived up to his billing as the second coming of Antonio Gates. All he needed was an opportunity, and Bennett got that chance when the Giants offered him a one-year contract.
Bennett has become the starting tight end for the Giants, which was something he never would have achieved in Dallas as long as Jason Witten is on the roster. With 25 receptions for 305 yards and 3 touchdowns, Bennett is beginning to become one of Eli's favorite targets.
You know that Bennett will be fired up in this game, so be sure to keep a close eye on him during the game.
How Much Of A Loss Will Sean Lee Be?
The Cowboys took a huge blow this week when they learned that starting inside linebacker Sean Lee would need surgery to repair a torn plantar plate in his big toe. That surgery will force him to miss the remainder of the season. Not only will Lee need to have surgery, he will also need 3-4 months of rehab. The only positive of the entire Lee situation is that this is not a injury that threatens his physical ability long-term.
Lee was the catalyst of the Dallas defense, he made that defense go. He was responsible for making all of the calls and plays in the huddle. You could basically consider Lee the quarterback of the defense. The Ravens lost Ray Lewis, we lost Sean Lee. Now you can understand what the Ravens fans are going through right now.
Look for Dan Connor to step in and attempt to pick up the pieces here. The only problem is, Lee was the Cowboys best coverage linebacker. The combination of Lee and Bruce Carter gave them two athletic linebackers who could cover down the field. Connor may be taken out of that element by a safety/linebacker hybrid in the form of Danny McCray or new addition Charlie Peprah.
The Cowboys also brought in former first round pick Ernie Sims. Sims was an outstanding athlete at Florida State, but he has been a bust in the NFL. This may be his last chance to make it. Connor will come off the field on passing situations for Sims.
Tony Romo May Have To Be Superman Again
Tony Romo was the primary reason for the Cowboys beating the Giants back on September 5th. Romo threw for 307 yards and 3 touchdowns, and he finished the game with a quarterback rating of 129.5. The Cowboys need Romo to play another game like that this Sunday.
Right now, the Cowboys have too many injuries on offense and defense. Not having DeMarco Murray is another loss that takes away a game changer on offense. The Cowboys haven't been playing great football as a team either, so they need Romo to do everything in order for them to come away with a win.
That starts with the offensive line. They appear to have found out how to block for Romo in passing situations. In the last three games, the offensive line started to create and find some unity. You have to remember that all of these lineman are either out of position or haven't played with each other. It's going to take time for them to come together, and that time may be here.
I really thought Romo was going to have a great season statistically. Instead, he has only thrown for 8 touchdowns compared to 9 interceptions. However, a lot of the interceptions have come from terrible mistakes from the wide receivers. The drops and mistakes have to stop, they cannot continue to beat themselves because the Giants will take advantage of missed opportunities.
I want to say that the Cowboys can win this game, but I don't know if that is possible right now with the way they have been playing. This team is talented, but right now they just don't show up and play team football. If the Cowboys lose this game, their season isn't over, but a path to 7-9 or 8-8 is probably looking like a real possibility.
They can beat the Giants though, they did it once already this season. This team can go head-to-head with the best in the league, but they just need to find a way to stop making mistakes in crucial moments of the game.