EXCLUSIVE: Q&A with Nick Folk

IRVING, Tex. - Sunday's game between the Cowboys and New York Giants very well could be one of those close slugfests between the two longtime rivals that are typical among games between divisional foes.

Chances are that the defenses will shine — in part because the defense is the strength of each team, and because each offense recently has performed at less than peak levels. New York was held to just six points last week in the Giants' loss to the Denver Broncos; in two of their last three games, the Cowboys have scored just seven points.

If that is how Sunday's game plays out, the outcome might well come down to the kicking game. RanchReport.com caught up with Dallas kicker Nick Folk to discuss kicking in the Giants' stadium, dealing with cold weather (the temperature is expected to be in the low 40s at kickoff Sunday) and where the Giants fall on the pecking order of the Cowboys' rivals.

RanchReport.com: The media often makes a big deal out of how hard it is to kick in Giants Stadium in December. What makes it so hard to kick up there? Or does the media just blow that out of proportion?
Nick Folk: It's a tough place to kick, but I've been up there twice and the conditions have been pretty good both times. I've only had one field goal there — I think it was 44 yards, in my rookie year — and it was a nice night there, and it was a nice night when we went up there last year.

It's just very "spotty" up there, because there are a lot of crosswinds. A front-to-back wind is easiest for a kicker, because all it affects is your distance, really. But crosswinds are pretty bad. There are just spots (in Giants Stadium) that affect the way the ball flies. If I remember right, there's a spot on the side near our (visitors') bench where, if you get it up in there, it will fly pretty good, but there are other spots where it just dies.

RanchReport.com: When you were in college (at Arizona), did any of the more northern schools where you played — the Washington schools, the Oregon schools — present similar challenges in terms of the conditions? Folk: Oregon State was cold, but none of them were really bad when we went up there. The coldest game I've ever played in was the Pittsburgh game last year — that was cold. That was pretty windy. Oregon State got pretty chilly and pretty windy, and Washington State was cold and rainy — maybe 45 degrees. But they weren't anything like Pittsburgh last year. It was like 10 (degrees) and a windchill around zero, or something like that.

RanchReport.com: Most of the other players, either on offense or defense, are on and off the field every few minutes. But as a kicker, you sometimes stand around for a while before doing anything, so how does cold weather change what you do on the sideline to stay ready and not run the risk of injury when you're called upon?
Folk: I put a big jacket on, I put some long pants on, and I sit on the heated benches — that's what I did (in Pittsburgh), and it worked out pretty well. I had a pretty good day that day.

A lot of guys did that. I think our punter, Sam Paulescu did it. I don't remember if (long snapper) L.P. (Ladouceur) did it. Brad Johnson did it, and he had long pants on. It was smart on my part, I think, because I have a big parka on, and then I take that off to go kick in the net (on the sideline) and keep the pants on to keep the leg extra-warm, stand in front of the heater to make sure the muscles are warm, and take it from there.

RanchReport.com: Bradie James said this week that the Cowboys don't like the Giants, and the Giants don't like the Cowboys. Do you feel that throughout the locker room?
Folk: I think so. I don't think it's just the Giants, though — I think it's throughout the NFC East. No one likes anyone.

It depends on the week, and who we're playing. We don't see Philly and the Redskins until the end of the year. Right now, we're getting ready to play the Giants, so we hate them right now. Going into the season, you circle those six games, and say "these are the big games of the year." Now we've got two of them left on the road, and one at home, so there's a long road in the NFC East ahead of us.

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