By this time in a season, every team in the NFL has endured injuries and finds itself trying to fill voids left by players relegated to the role of spectators. When the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants square off at 3:15 Sunday in Giants Stadium, one player who will be glaring by his absence will be New York linebacker Antonio Pierce, the heart and soul of the Giants' defense who is out for the year with a bulging disk in his neck.
For Dallas fullback Deon Anderson, Pierce's absence means an interruption in what has turned into an always-entertaining matchup within the game. Each is among the most talkative players on his team. Each is extremely strong, and plays the game with passion and abandon. When the Giants and Cowboys get together, the Anderson/Pierce matchup results in never-ending talk, explosive collisions and countless bumps and bruises in the ensuing weeks.
"It would have been fun, messing with Pierce, but … he'll be sorely missed," Anderson said, not meaning a word of it. "But they'll still look the same, they'll run the same defensive fronts."
Anderson said his trash-talking relationship with Pierce began during Anderson's rookie season, in 2007.
"I remember my rookie year, and we played against each other, and it was just constant, you know?" Anderson said. "You've got to come after the rookie, so he was trying to get in my head a little bit, because I was a rookie. But it was just upset me, you know? So ever since then, if we have an ‘iso,' I'm trying to put everything that is me through him.
"I was a little upset when I heard he wasn't going to be playing, because, you know, Antonio and I have a little thing going. But he adds that little spark to their defense. When you hear him talking junk across the line at you … it motivates me a little bit more. But just knowing they're going to have someone in there (probably Chase Blackburn) that's not as vocal as he is, I'm going to have to look for other people to pump me up … but I don't really need people to pump me up."
Anderson said that while the Giants might be missing their defensive leader, or at least their defensive mouthpiece, he still expects New York to play the same style employed Sept. 20 when the Giants won the first game played in Cowboys Stadium.
"They look the same — downhill, smash-mouth," Anderson said. "But we're physical, ourselves, too. They don't look different. Same fronts, same blitzes, but I know they're going to try and throw a little wrinkle here or there, a different type of blitz or something."
At the beginning of the season, some pegged the Giants as the elite of the NFC East, and according to some, the NFC or even the entire NFL. But 11 games into the season, the Cowboys sit atop the division standings and enjoy a two-game lead over New York. A Dallas victory could effectively squeeze the life out of the Giants' season, but Anderson said that ending New York's playoff hopes isn't a motivating factor.
"I don't think anybody's worried about that," Anderson said. "We're worried about today, we're worried about getting through each practice this week, and then getting up there and busting their asses. Our main focus is getting this ‘W.'"
EXCLUSIVE: Trash talk
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