Cowboys-Giants Preview

The New York Giants dealt another blow to Dallas’ miserable

season three weeks ago – a defeat that contributed to this week’s

dismissal of the Cowboys’ coach.

In their first game since Wade Phillips’ firing, the Cowboys

take on the surging Giants at the Meadowlands on Sunday with Jason

Garrett making his debut at the helm.

Dallas (1-7) lost 45-7 to Green Bay last Sunday, a defeat that

sealed Phillips’ fate. He was let go the next day after compiling a

34-22 record in 3 1/2 seasons with the Cowboys.

The team went 11-5 last year and won the NFC East, but Phillips

couldn’t survive Dallas’ worst start since 1989 this season. The

Cowboys, a popular preseason pick as Super Bowl contenders, have

given up 40.3 points a contest over the past three weeks.

“I told (players) they should not think this an admission of

defeat or finality in this season,” owner Jerry Jones said. “We

have eight games left and we have one goal – to win.”

That task falls to Garrett, the former Cowboys and Giants

quarterback who was promoted from offensive coordinator to interim

coach. Garrett was a finalist for the St. Louis head coaching job

in 2009.

“Wade is no longer the coach. I am the coach and what we’re

going to do going forward (is) get ready to have a great meeting, a

great walkthrough and a great practice on Wednesday and give

ourselves a chance to beat the Giants on Sunday,” said Garrett, who

conducted his first full practice Wednesday.

New York (6-2) will try not to let that happen as it seeks its

sixth straight victory and fourth in a row in the series. The

Giants’ latest win over the Cowboys came Oct. 25, a 41-35 victory

in Arlington that dropped Dallas to 1-5.

While the Cowboys have continued to struggle, the NFC

East-leading Giants appear to be getting better with each game. New

York came out of its bye week and pounded Seattle 41-7 last Sunday,

as the NFL’s second-ranked offense outgained the Seahawks 487-162

with a balanced effort.

Eli Manning went 21 of 32 for 290 yards, three touchdowns and no

interceptions, while the Giants ran for 197 yards behind Brandon

Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware. New York is averaging 401.0

yards and leads the NFC with 27.0 points per game.

“We’re just playing well right now, and we need to keep that

going,” offensive lineman Rich Seubert said. “It’s a long season

and we still have eight games left. We need to keep plugging away

and keep on getting better.

“We have the Cowboys coming in this week, and they’re a

dangerous team. Everybody knows their record and that doesn’t

matter. They have a good defense and we have to find a way to beat

them.”

New York knocked quarterback Tony Romo out with a broken

collarbone in the October matchup, with Jon Kitna taking over under

center. The veteran has thrown for 749 yards with four touchdowns

and six interceptions in three games.

Dallas is averaging 359.3 yards – 10th in the league – but

wasn’t able to move the ball against the Packers’ formidable

defense, getting held to a season-low 205 yards.

The Cowboys’ beleaguered defense, meanwhile, gave up 400 yards

for the second time in three weeks, as Green Bay gained 415. The

Giants had 497 against Dallas.

Things got even worse for the Cowboys’ defense this week, as the

team announced starting end Marcus Spears is out for the season

with a calf injury. The six-year veteran had 19 tackles in

2010.

New York will try to take advantage as it looks to match its

last offensive effort versus Dallas, but will have to do it without

Steve Smith. The Pro Bowl receiver, who has caught 47 passes for

517 yards and three TDs, suffered a partially torn pectoral muscle

Thursday and won’t play.

Coach Tom Coughlin characterized Smith’s status as

“week-to-week.”

The Giants are also dealing with a banged-up offensive line, as

they aren’t expected to have starting left tackle David Diehl

(hamstring, hip) and could be missing center Shaun O’Hara (sprained

foot).

New York, with a one-game lead over Philadelphia in the

division, is looking to remain focused against a struggling

opponent – one that could get a boost from the coaching change –

before visiting the Eagles next week.

“We’re going one game at a time,” Coughlin said Monday. “The

next game is our total concern, and that’s as far as our thinking

goes. It’s right there.”

The Giants haven’t beaten the Cowboys four straight times since

taking six in a row from Sept. 18, 1988-Sept. 30, 1990. New York

has won the last two meetings in East Rutherford.