Dallas at New York Giants; Game Preview

Breakdown preview of the Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants battle in week-two of the NFL season.


Dallas Cowboys (0-1) at New York Giants (1-0)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Monday, 9:00 ET
SURFACE: Grass
TV: ABC, John Madden, Al Michaels
SERIES: This will be the 82nd meeting between the teams and the Cowboys have a staggering 50-29-2 lead in the series. However, the Giants have won five of the last six, including both games last season. Interestingly, the very first meeting was in 1960, when the expansion Cowboys would finish their season at 0-11-1 -- and the tie, a 31-31 contest, was against the Giants in Yankee Stadium. The last meeting, however, stands as the Giants' most lop-sided victory in the series since a 41-10 game in 1962. They won, 37-7, last Dec. 15.

2003 RANKINGS: Cowboys: offense 2nd (7th rush, 8th pass); defense 17th (18th rush, 18th pass). Giants: offense 10th (6th rush, 20th pass); defense 26th (2nd rush, 31st pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Cowboys safeties Darren Woodson and Roy Williams had trouble keeping tabs on Atlanta TE Alge Crumpler in the opener, and the Giants will send TE Jeremy Shockey at them Sunday. Even if the safeties contain Shockey, it will make it more difficult for Dallas to offer help against the Giants' big-play receivers. The Cowboys are hoping the return of 315-pound DT Willie Blade will shore up their run defense. Dallas QB Quincy Carter must play a mistake free game and get help from the running game to set up the play-action pass. Because of Carter's mobility, the Giants may be forced to limit their blitz packages.
FAST FACTS: Cowboys: The team is 5-27 on the road since 1999. ... QB Quincy Carter is the first Cowboys quarterback to throw for 200-plus yards in seven consecutive regular-season games since Danny White did it in 10 consecutive games in 1983. Giants: The team is 6-7 at home on Monday Night Football. Overall, the Giants are 15-27-1 on Monday night.


PREDICTED SCORE: Giants 21, Cowboys 20

PERSONNEL NEWS
Cowboys:
   --Although guard Larry Allen (hamstring) practiced with the team on Thursday, he remains questionable for Monday's game with the Giants.
   Allen sat out of Wednesday's practice. Parcells said he needs to get on the field "more than once" this week to play against the Giants. With the game on Monday, Allen and the Cowboys have an extra day to get ready.
   Parcells' hard-line attitude regarding Allen, however, might be partly rooted in his assessment that the former all-pro guard played "average" against the Falcons after hobbling through practiced last week.
   If Allen can't go, Tyson Walter is preparing to start in his place.
   --Defensive tackle Willie Blade practiced Wednesday and Thursday. However, Parcells said it's too early to tell how much they will be able to count on him Monday.
   --DE Greg Ellis and DE Ebenezer Ekuban provided a very average pass rush against the Falcons, coach Bill Parcells said.
   He is not exactly a coach who deals with "very average" very well, so he plans to rotate backup defensive ends Kenyon Coleman and Eric Ogbogu sooner and have them take more snaps from starters Greg Ellis and Ebenezer Ekuban.
   "I want to try to keep them a little fresher," Parcells said. "I noticed the Giants did that pretty well last week against the Rams, and that might be a help to us."
   Ekuban said he did not feel tired at the end of the game but realizes the pass rush needs to pick up.
   "I think collectively all of us feel as though we are close," said Ekuban, who had one sack last season. "Our coach always says it's all about attitude when you are rushing the passer. So I think once we get that in our mind that we have to be fierce out there, it will come."
   -- CB Jemeel Powell, who was claimed off waivers, is getting more reps in practice this week, but the Cowboys are waiting to see if he'll be ready for Monday's game against the Giants.
   --LB Bradie James was left off the active roster for Sunday's game against Atlanta, but Parcells said it had more to do with needs on the defensive line and that his cornerbacks and safeties were better special teams players.
   --CB Terence Newman earned the praise of Parcells for his performance against the Falcons Sunday. Parcells said the Cowboys' first-round draft choice received no extra help from the safeties in his first regular season NFL game and did a good job.

Giants:

   -- OLT Luke Petitgout (back spasms) stayed out of practice again Thursday, and in fact didn't even watch because coach Jim Fassel said part of his treatment is to remain off his feet. "I am pretty sure he'll play," Fassel said. "He's a veteran and if he tells me he can go, then I'm going to believe him. So I guess I have until 7 p.m. Monday to decide [the deadline for submitting the Game Inactives list]."
   -- There is still indecision on Fassel's part on how to fix the O-line, specifically the RT job currently held down by Ian Allen. By Fassel's admission, "Ian had a rough game [vs. St. Louis] last week. I'm just not sure what I'm going to do." He has options, which include, of course, giving the 6-4, 310-pounder another chance. But this time he should activate his other OT, Jeffrey Hatch. Just in case, you know?
   -- Rookie DE Osi Umenyiori and LG Rich Seubert engaged in a brief flare-up of tempers during practice, but they were pulled apart without a punch being thrown.
   -- There is continued speculation that RBs Ron Dayne and Dorsey Levens will be kept on the Game Inactives list again for a second straight week, and Fassel agreed that there is such a possibility.
   -- Darnell Dinkins, the "fourth tight end" currently on the practice squad, assumed the role of Dallas QB Quincy Carter in practice. Why? "Because he's a great athlete and he can play quarterback and defensive back and wide receiver," Fassel said. Darnell played all those positions in college and for us. We better be prepared for Carter, because he's a developing quarterback with a lot of potential."

INSIDE THE CAMPS
Cowboys:
   Cowboys owner Jerry Jones compared Sunday's 27-13 season-opening loss to the Atlanta Falcons to a financial portfolio with minimal liquid funds but promising investments.
   "You might not have money, but you are still in good shape because of everything else," Jones said. "I felt that way about the loss. It doesn't look good or feel good. But overall, the things we are doing are sound and will pay dividends in the future."
   Jones admitted the Cowboys "had expectations that we would play better. We all know we had a chance and let it slip away. We had the opportunity to start the season off positively.
"But in no way have I given up on the idea that we won't play better this season, a lot better. If we play better, we will compete. We improved in the off-season. We will improve as the season goes along."
   Jones said he's not looking through "rose-colored glasses" either. He remains encouraged by the presence of coach Bill Parcells, the changes the team made in the off-season and the play of quarterback Quincy Carter.
   While things stand to get tougher with Monday's road game against the New York Giants (1-0), Jones said he will go to Giants Stadium with peace of mind because it was there, after a loss last season, that the ball started rolling in the Parcells hiring process.
   "That's where I initially got into the mix with Bill," Jones said. "I feel we have made good decisions and are going in the right direction."
   While he was disappointed that the defense didn't play well Sunday, Jones said the offense, especially Carter and the offensive line, started off much better than a year ago. This time last year bad-to-mediocre typified the quarterback play, and injuries riddled the line. The offense totaled 403 yards against the Falcons, including a career-high 268 yards passing by Carter.
   "Quincy did more good things than bad," Jones said. "He will get better as the season goes. I like what we did at running back with Aveion Cason and Troy Hambrick. And the offensive line has a chance to get more consistent."
   Most exciting to Jones was the play of receiver Joey Galloway, who caught seven passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. Jones said it was Galloway's best performance since coming to Dallas in February 2000 via a trade with Seattle for two first-round draft picks and a $42 million contract.
   Since Galloway's arrival, quarterback Troy Aikman was released after being plagued with a bad back in 2000 and the team has sank to three consecutive 5-11 seasons. Galloway has just 117 receptions and no Pro Bowls. After saying in the past that he wouldn't have made the trade if he'd have known how Aikman's situation played out, Jones is now looking at the former Ohio State speedster as a key to the team's success again.
   "Getting big plays for him will be successful for us," Jones said.

Giants:
   Jeremy Shockey gave the media its weekly couple of minutes Thursday, standing out on the practice field at Giants Stadium as they prepared for Monday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys and their former head coach, Bill Parcells.
   "I think the coaches have done a good job building a game plan for us," Shockey said in his newly-discovered role as Sir Bland. "But the game plan can only do so much for us. We have to do the rest on the field."
   Had enough?
   The next question concerned Dan Campbell, the NFL's best blocking tight end who bolted from the Giants to join the Cowboys last spring. Shockey and Campbell became close friends, and Shockey has said often how much he misses him (not to mention tight ends coach Mike Pope).
   "We are friends and we talk as much as we can," Sir Bland responded. "But we each have a job to do so I don't think we'll talk too much this week."
   Since Campbell took Shockey under his wing last season, has Sir Bland done the same thing for the Giants' young tight end, Visanthe Shiancoe?
   "Yeah, I have," he said. "I try to do for the young guys what Dan did for me. Remember, I tell them, you're only as good as your last play."
   Thankfully, it doesn't mean you're only as good as your last interview.


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