Game Capsule

The Cowboys want to test the Giants secondary, but they won't have much success until they are able to set up the play-action pass.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET

GAMEDATE: 12/04/05

SURFACE: FieldTurf

TV: FOX, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver

SERIES: 87th meeting. Dallas leads the series 51-33-2. The Giants have won four of the past five games in New York. Eight of the last 11 meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less, including five by four points or less.

2005 RANKINGS: Cowboys: offense 13th (15th rush, 14th pass); defense 6th (9th rush, 10th pass). Giants: offense 8th (8th rush, 12th pass); defense 24th (7th rush, 27th pass).

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Cowboys want to test the Giants secondary, but they won't have much success until they are able to set up the play-action pass. Dallas is already forced to max protect QB Drew Bledsoe on most passing downs, and Giants DEs Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora will have a big advantage working against Cowboys OTs Rob Petitti and Torrin Tucker. So RBs Julius Jones and/or Marion Barber need to establish the ground game and help Dallas control the clock. The Cowboys aren't sure if CB Anthony Henry will be available, and the Giants would like to go after 5-foot-9 CB Aaron Glenn working against 6-5 WR Plaxico Burress. In what figures to be a close game, the Giants' offensive line must play with more discipline than it showed in committing 11 false starts against Seattle.

FAST FACTS: Cowboys: Bill Parcells is 67-32 (.677) as a coach in Giants Stadium. ... Bledsoe needs three touchdown passes to pass Jim Kelly (237) and Len Dawson (239) for 14th place all-time. Giants: RB Tiki Barber needs 401 rushing yards (80.2 per game) to break his own single-season franchise record of 1,518 set last season. ... QB Eli Manning has a touchdown pass in a league-high 12 consecutive games.

PERSONNEL NEWS: Cowboys: --C Al Johnson practiced Thursday and could play against the Giants. Johnson underwent surgery Nov. 24 to remove cartilage from his knee. Andre Gurode, however, could still start in his place.

--WR Patrick Crayton has practiced pain-free all week and will be ready to play against the Giants after missing the last five games with an ankle injury. The question is whether Crayton will be able to assume all of his former duties, including serving as the team's primary punt returner.

--RB Marion Barber has got the short end of the stick since Julius Jones returned to the starting lineup and he has had to share the load at running back. Barber rushed for 222 yards in two starts against Seattle and Arizona on 49 attempts. He has had just 37 attempts for 127 yards the past three games while splitting time with Jones, who had 163 yards on 49 carries.

"You don't really worry about all of that - who gets the ball," Barber said. "I knew what the situation was with Julius when he came back. I've (split carries) before, so it's not a big deal. I just stay ready and prepared and when it's my turn, I have to be ready."

--WR Keyshawn Johnson leads the Cowboys in receptions with 53 for 582 yards and six touchdowns. His receptions continue to be important - 32 of his catches have been for first downs, including nine on third down.

--LB DeMarcus Ware has not had a sack in the five games, dating to the Giants game Oct. 16 at Texas Stadium. He has four sacks for the season. But Ware continues to make an impact on the defense. He has steadily improved as a run defender. His pressure from the outside has helped free up defensive end Greg Ellis for sacks. Ellis leads the team with nine sacks and has benefited from opponents doubling and chipping Ware.

Giants: --RCB Will Peterson (lower back), who practiced Wednesday for the first time in nine weeks, sat out practice Thursday. He is listed as doubtful for Sunday.

--WLB Nick Greisen (ankle) returned to practice Thursday and is listed as questionable. If he can't go, the possibility for yet another juggling of the three-linebacker set is there -- Carlos Emmons would move to the weak side, Antonio Pierce would stay in the middle and Reggie Torbor would move up to the strong side, filling in for Emmons, who would be filling in for Greisen.

--S Shaun Williams (hamstring) is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game.

--DT Kenderick Allen (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Sunday's game.

--PR/KR Chad Morton (ankle) was upgraded to probable for Sunday's game.

--QB Eli Manning has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 12 consecutive games, moving him into second place on the Giants' all-time list. He is three short of Y.A. Tittle's record. Manning has 20 touchdown tosses this season, and all last season the combination of Manning and Kurt Warner managed only 12.

--Several Giants who requested anonymity are convinced that the Seahawks installed wireless microphones around the stadium to amplify the crowd noise and make it as loud as it once was in the old building, the Kingdome.

--Overheard walking to the locker room exit, an exchange between TE Visanthe Shiancoe and DE Michael Strahan, a 34-year-old veteran of 13 years. "Michael, your rookie year was 1970, right? Or was it 1971?" Several players within earshot laughed -- Strahan did not.

INSIDE THE CAMPS: Cowboys: Cowboys coach Bill Parcells admits being frustrated by the ongoing absence of cornerback Anthony Henry because of a groin injury.

He is now giving the silent treatment to Henry and the Cowboys' training staff.

Henry has missed two of the last three games since being injured against the Cardinals on Oct. 30. It now looks like he will miss this week's game against the Giants, as he has not practiced all week.

Parcells says he doesn't talk to the trainers. All he says is hello to Henry in the morning. And he's on a "need to know basis" with the trainers and Henry regarding his injury.

"I've been watching this for four or five weeks now," Parcells said, "and it's quite apparent to me that nothing much has changed, so I don't need to go over new ground."

Asked what was taking the injury so long to heal, Parcells said, "I don't know. I really don't know."

Asked if he was frustrated by Henry's long absence, Parcells answered, "I would say that would be an accurate term."

Parcells' frustration is rooted in the fact that Henry is a big part of the Cowboys' defense. He was probably their best defensive player through the first eight games.

Most important, they gave Henry a $10 million signing bonus to come over from Cleveland as a free agent for games like Sunday's against the Giants.

Aaron Glenn has played well in Henry's absence and will likely start again if Henry is not ready to play. But the 5-9 Glenn is no match for oversized Giants receiver Plaxico Burress. Henry was signed to defend the big receivers in the division, like Burress and the suspended Terrell Owens of the Eagles.

Giants: No less an expert then Dallas wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson has spoken out on the Giants.

"There is no doubt they're better than us," he said. "When you look at the teams they've beaten and how they've played, they are better than us."

Shocking? Controversial? A sign of surrender?

Nope, it's just the magical mind of Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells busy at work, trying to keep his opponents off-balance.

And this is the game to do it. The Giants and Cowboys are tied for first place in the NFC East, and with just five games remaining, every victory is crucial, every defeat is potentially fatal.

The Giants believe they are better than the Cowboys. In fact, middle linebacker Antonio Pierce doesn't think there's an offense that can seriously hurt the Giants defense.

"We're the dictators now," he said. "Earlier in the season, we weren't dictating to any offense."

Giants running back Tiki Barber had a cogent question after the Giants' 24-21 overtime loss in Seattle last Sunday. "If that's the best the NFC has to offer, what does it say about us?" he wondered.

What is says is that the Giants could make the playoffs and go far. It is merely a question of maintaining consistency and momentum.

"What we need to do to get out of this funk that loss produced is run the ball a lot," left guard David Diehl said. "We (offensive linemen) love running plays. We can get out there and deliver the blow instead of pass-blocking and taking that punishment. Besides, running the ball successfully will make it easier for Eli (Manning), make it easier for him to throw."

Barber has gained 1,118 yards and needs just 80.3 per game the rest of the way to surpass his previous career high of 1,518 set last season.

Getting that 80-yard day against Dallas would please him greatly, to say nothing of the horde of fans who will try to be as loud as the folks were in Seattle last week. Maybe they can prompt some false-start penalties, too.

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