KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX, Dick Stockton, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
SERIES: This will be the 84th meeting between the teams, with the Cowboys holding a 50-31-2 edge. They won both games last year, but the Giants won both in 2002, and four of the six previous to that. Last year's first match was memorable in terms of futility. The Giants held a three-point lead with 11 seconds to play after a field goal by Matt Bryant. But Bryant's kickoff went out of bounds, which stopped the clock, giving Billy Cundiff time with zero seconds showing on the clock to kick a 52-yard FG to tie the game. He then kicked a 25-yarder in overtime to give Dallas a 35-32 victory.
2004 RANKINGS: Giants: offense 7th (5th rush, 13th pass); defense 22nd (17th rush, 21st pass). Cowboys: offense 5th (29th rush, 2nd pass); defense 19th (20th rush, 17th pass).
KEYS TO THE GAME: RB Tiki Barber is off to the best start of his career and, more important, has yet to fumble. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have gone six games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. They have had two weeks to prepare coming off their bye week and if the Cowboys can shut Barber down, they can put pressure on the Giants' revamped but improving offensive line. The Giants know they need to move the ball consistently because their defense is going to be under constant fire from the Cowboys. Dallas doesn't run the ball well, but WRs Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn and Antonio Bryant are among the best trio's in the league. The challenge facing the Cowboys will be finishing drives with touchdowns if they are unable to run in the red zone.
FAST FACTS: Giants: Are 3-1 for the first time since 2001. ... Barber's 593 rushing yards is one more than the team's opponents combined. Cowboys: QB Vinny Testaverde's 891 passing yards is the second-most ever for Dallas through three games. ... Lead the series 50-31-2 and swept the series last season. ... Are 11-4 following bye weeks.
Giants Personnel Notes:
-- FS Brent Alexander and rookie SS Gibril Wilson have two interceptions apiece. While it is odd for the safeties to have more picks than the corners, Alexander explained it this way: "Our defense is so carefully planned that if you are in the right place chances are you are going to see the ball. We try to force the receivers back toward the middle anyway."
-- RG Chris Snee, the rookie second-round pick from Boston College and Coughlin's son-in-law, has progressed each week. Going into the Green Bay game, he said how emotional it was to be in the same position as the old-time Packers when they pulled out and ran the famous "Lombardi sweep." It was suggested that he speak to his father-in-law to see if he could run something like that, and he smiled sardonically: "Yeah, sure, I'll sit down with him and go over the playbook next chance I get."
-- QB Kurt Warner, with the exception of the final few minutes of the opener, has been the Giants' quarterback through the first four games. "I am pleased so far," he said, "but we are no where close to what this offense can do." In his four games, Warner has completed 77 of 114 passes for 908 yards, two TDs, one interception and a completion percentage of 67.5. His passer rating is a healthy 93.8. He currently ranks fifth among NFC QBs.
-- G Rich Seubert feels that while it might be possible for him to return to action this season, he admits he might be better off waiting until next year to begin his comeback from the compound fracture of his right leg suffered last Oct. 19 vs. Philly. He is currently listed on the PUP-Reserve, and can be activated without passing through waivers from the Tuesday after Game Six to the Tuesday after Game Nine. Additionally, he could begin practicing with the team for up to three weeks without being activated.
-- WR Ike Hilliard likes the new offense, and after seven years in the league had a new pass pattern to run last Sunday vs. Green Bay. "It was kind of a naked flanker screen," he said. "I take a step back, catch the ball and slant up the middle. It almost turned into a bomb." LT Luke Petitgout made his block, but KGB (Packers' DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila) came around the other end and made the tackle."
Cowboys Personnel Moves:
--RG Andre Gurode, who has missed the last two games with a sprained knee, should be ready to play against the Giants after returning to practice full time this week.
However, coach bill Parcells has not yet made a decision on whether Gurode will return to the starting lineup in place of Matt Lehr, who filled in solidly the past two games.
He says it may come to down to a game-time decision as he wants to watch Gurode play with a little more confidence in practice. He has two more days to find out.
"I don't pay attention to that you don't lose your job to injury stuff," Parcells said. "Whatever guy gives me the best chance that day whatever the circumstance is. I use the term playing with confidence. That's very important to me, to be able to see a guy playing with confidence. We were in pads (Wednesday) so we had some contact and he did a pretty good job. Hopefully he'll be ready to go. I think there's a good
chance he will be."
-- CB Jacques Reeves' ascension to the starting lineup at cornerback means that he will have his load lightened a bit on special teams.
Parcells does not want him duplicating the 89 snaps he played against the Redskins.
Initially that means that Reeves will no longer return kickoffs. Parcells is considering rookie cornerback Nate Jones and Bruce Thornton for the return spot opposite running back Reshard Lee.
Parcells also acknowledged that a couple of practice squad players -- receivers Patrick Cobbs and Terence Copper who worked at the position in the preseason -- also are being considered for that role. Doing that however, would require the Cowboys to release a player from the roster in order to sign the practice squad player for the game.
--WR Woodrow Dantzler was worked out by the Cowboys on Tuesday. However, the Cowboys have yet to sign him to a contract. Dantzler was waived by the Falcons in training camp and remains an interest of Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, who has said cutting Dantzler was one of his biggest regrets last season.
--RT Torrin Tucker is young and therefore inconsistent, but it is quickly becoming show-me-you-can-do-it-or-we'll-start-looking-elsewhere time for him.
"These next few weeks and these next few games, that's where his career is going to go," Bill Parcells said. "He's going to either get over the hump or he's not going to get over it. Then you start looking for someone else if he doesn't."
Waiting in the wings is second-round pick Jacob Rogers. Rogers' problem is he is having a hard time making the active list. Parcells wants depth from his backup offensive linemen, and Kurt Vollers backs up left tackle and left guard in addition to Tucker, a second-year player from Southern Miss. But Rogers is making progress.
"I think if he had to play, I would not think we were going to have a disaster there," Parcells said. "I want to get Rogers involved. Right now, it's a little difficult."
Gaints at Cowboys Snapshot
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